What is open courseware?

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the pioneer of the open courseware movement, and to date has posted materials for 1800 of its courses on the MIT open courseware site. Other open courseware sites include:

However, only a small proportion of these courses include webcast lectures (either downloadable MP3 or streaming video). The material for most courses includes a syllabus, required reading, a schedule of lecture topics and lecture notes. On the UMass open courseware site, some of the lecture notes are quite extensive, including essentially entire lectures in PDF format. An example is Polysci 220 – International Relations, which has lecture notes that look like full transcriptions of the professor’s lectures. By contrast, the lecture materials for History 313 – 19th-century Europe, are quite rudimentary, no more than a paragraph or two.

Your best bet is to scan these sites for subjects of interest, and then look to see whether the lecture materials are useful. On the MIT site, you can scan this list, looking for the icons that indicate video or audio content for the lectures.

A useful digest of 200 open courseware offerings is Online Education Database’s list of 200 Free Online Classes to Learn Anything.
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