Online Courses for Free and Customized Educational Videos



Yup, it's me. High school was awesome.

I've been a huge fan of MIT's online OpenCourseWare initiative. For 10 years, MIT has made several of its engineering courses (and a few others in the Sloan business school) available online free of charge. Impressively, it was more than just a few PDFs - there was lecture videos, lab notes, problem sets, and exams.  It was truly an interactive way to learn for those of us proactive enough to seek out information online.

Now, Harvard and MIT are teaming up to offer free online courses. Similarly, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michiganan are also planning to offer free online courses. The two groups are using different companies, which will bring the competition needed to truly flesh out the best way to offer information online.  The best thing about these efforts is that they will be actual courses, which will be graded either by professors, peers or crowdsourcing.  While I doubt that you'd be able to use these for any actual course credit outside of the involves university, it's still a great idea.  Just think about what this can look like a generation from now. 

Hopefully, universities will be as inventive as TED, an educational video site, is when it comes to interactive educational video. They've just unveiled a great way to mix and match segments of videos as well as add annotations, quizzes, and other parts to create a product customized for a specific audience. This is great because sometimes it can be a pain to send someone a video and mention what part they should pay attention to - with this solution, the video itself can be as brief and contain the relevant text itself.  Cool stuff!

Here's to using technology to help improve education! And for free!