Online, open education – about the best thing for autodidacts since, well, the printed word*.
Of course, open online courses and learning material aren’t just for autodidacts/infovores. There are many, many people out there for whom the fees of a college/university are simply out of reach. Further, there are even _more_ people for whom access to almost any sort of education, let alone top notch material, is impossible due to the tyranny of distance/their geographical location.
Enter open, online education. Course material that’s available as long as one has internet access, and is _free_.
It’s been around for a while, certainly, but I started to get particularly excited when some of the world’s top universities – MIT springs to mind – began offering _their_ course material. It opens up a whole new world, for people wanting to learn about everything from Ancient and Medieval Philosophy to Quantum Mechanics.
400 Free Online Courses from Top Universities (this site, and the Open Culture cause, are particularly fantastic)
Also, in what is going to be _fascinating_ to watch, Stanford (and KnowLabs) is about to offer three online courses, open to _anyone_ who wants to take them**. Why is it particularly interesting? Well, the class sizes are huuuuuuge (I’ve seen figures saying 130,000 people in over 190 countries for the AI course). How will that work? What fascinating data will be returned from it?
Oh, and for the AI course at least, one can choose to take part in one of two streams – the full-on one, with Stanford grade exams, assignment etc, and the more ‘relaxed’ one, without as much of the, well, heavy workload (but, I get the impression, all the same content).
I’ve registered for the AI course, and think the machine learning one looks pretty interesting, too :) But there’s just so MUCH to go out and learn!
* And a quick post, before I rush out to stuff my face with delicious mexican food :)
** Interestingly, the AI course’s terms of agreement say it’s a non-commercial release of the course (‘beta-access’), suggesting that at some point courses of this sort will be making money in some way. With fees? The sale of textbooks? Dunno…