Have you ever taken a course at Harvard, MIT, the University of Oxford, Yale, or perhaps the University of Western Sydney? Would you like to take one? Free? I’m not joking. Through the internet, free courses taught by professors at the above universities and many other prestigious schools can be yours free of charge, and at your convenience. This is made possible through an organization called Academic Earth, and various universities that video their courses and make them available at no charge. At this point almost 50 universities offer over 750 courses with approximately 8,500 lectures total. You can’t get credit for the courses, but you are welcome to learn as much as you like.
The idea for Academic Earth came to a man named Chris Ludlow when he stumbled across a course from MIT on the internet. He later found other courses, but no single place where you could go to find all free university courses that were available via the internet. So, in 2009 Ludlow, Chris Bruner and Liam Pisano started Academic Earth.
When I first found Academic Earth a little more than three years ago, there were perhaps 50 courses from a dozen universities or so. There were only six literature courses – all from Yale. Now there are 14 literature courses and they are from not only Yale, but Harvard, MIT, the University of Oxford, UCLA, New York University, and Notre Dame as well. The 750 courses are grouped into nine general areas which include Art & Design, Business, Computer Science, Humanities, Mathematics, and Social Science. Literature is under Humanities, and the subjects of the literature courses currently offered include American Literature I: Beginning to Civil War; D. H. Lawrence; Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise; Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner; Modern Poetry; and Shakespeare After All: The Later Plays. The other subject areas also have quite a diverse collection of course offerings.
When you go to the Academic Earth site you will find a number of headings at the top of the screen. Explore each to get a feel for what is available. When you find something you like, simply click on the course, and you’re off and learning. Be sure to explore the “Video Electives.” They’re short and quite interesting. Also browse the “FAQ” section.
Enjoy yourself, but don’t get so wrapped up in the courses that you forget about Book Notes Plus.