Thursday, October 6, 2011


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Technological advances have made it possible for universities to deliver online courses to almost anyone anywhere in the world. Nothing new, but what is new is top universities like Harvard, MIT, Oxford and Stanford are now jumping on the bandwagon. These ivy league institutions are offering some of their courses online for FREE. I repeat, FREE!

The courses are delivered via the university website and also uploaded on YouTube (video) and iTunes (audio). Yale University's course on Roman Architecture, for example, has garnered over 500,000 views. 

Profs Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun.
Leading experts on artificial intelligence.
Stanford's School of Engineering is offering three courses this semester: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Databases and Introduction to Machine Learning. 'Distant' students get the same professors, classes, assignments and exam as the campus students who pay US$50,000 for the Artificial Intelligence (AI) course. The only difference is if they pass, they get a statement of accomplishment, not a Stanford degree. The AI course has attracted more than 130,000 registrants worldwide, with ages ranging from high school students to retirees. If you or your children are interested, click on the links to register. You may need some knowledge of higher maths, but other than this, there are no restrictions. Classes begin this month.

Top universities in China are watching in alarm at the growing number of students drawn to these free western online courses. The Ministry of Education has gathered the country's best scholars to produce 1000 videos over the next five years in an attempt to win back their students. The first 130 videos are ready and will be made available to the public soon. 

If you have grandchildren of kindergarten, primary or high school age, there are free online courses for them too. One that I highly recommend is The Khan Academy. There are close to 2500 videos on subjects such as arithmetic, algebra, physics, chemistry, biology, finance, history and computer science in their online library delivered via YouTube. I checked out Basic Addition and was so impressed by what I viewed.

If your 5-year old grandson can't sit still to watch this 7+ minute video, you might want to watch it yourself and teach him basic addition using these creative approaches. There are 40 videos in this section covering all levels of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You choose the level that's most appropriate for your grandchild.

Thanks to rapid increase in the availability of high-bandwidth Internet service plus interactive software, education can be brought to the masses, regardless of their geographical distance. And now with so much free stuff online, lack of money is no longer a barrier to acquiring knowledge. The educational divide between rural and urban students will disappear in the near future. For developing countries, the government must set up the infrastructure necessary to ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of a good education.

1 comment:

Joshuas Law said...

That's a great news, now every one have a chance to get learn the thinks at Harward, MIT, Oxford etc... at free of cost online. really impressive move by those institutions.