In this increasingly ”connected world”, obtaining free education online is actually a relatively simple thing to do.
If you do not have Internet at home, you can go to your local library and use one of their freely available computers.
The best online college offer free classes, and you can make use of the top gratis audio book and podcast resources. Most of those are available in the library, though strict time limits of computer usage time, that could be used to go through some of the lessons available online.
Free online educational resources offer briefer, yet highly informative lectures. 45 minute to one hour available time limit, set by major metropolitan libraries is sufficient for one lecture per day. You will only need to bring your headphones, since most libraries enforce a code of silence by requiring video watchers.
Auto didactic learning is well represented at Khan Academy, that was founded by MIT and Harvard Business School graduate Salman Khan in 2006. It offers a deep selection of 3 to 10 minute educational videos covering a wide variety of topics, from math, science, economics segments, basic humanities lessons, and computer science tutorials.
People taking up the formal education appreciate the extensive test preparation assistance offered at Khan. Geeky types would go for fun clips, such as the futility of dividing by zero or the “Lebron Asks” science series. Khan Academy includes progress tracking and practice exercises based on skill level, ensuring you are picking up the practical skills taught by the easy-to-digest clips.
You Tube Education covers the full spectrum of knowledge, from basic videos covering kindergarten-level skills to full lectures from top university professors.
Lesson in counting by ones or an introduction to lasers and fiber optics, with in-depth explanations of niche topics like the science of dreaming and Latin American revolutions are all there.
The Education channel has excellent visual organization, sorting the videos by education level, topic (math, science, business, engineering, and “lifelong learning”) and subtopics (statistics, calculus, and algebra).
The videos on YouTube originate from various sources, which can be a little bit confusing when you are trying to figure out which video to watch next, in order to progress your knowledge systematically.
Better structured approach to learning and a higher level of learning than Khan Academy can be found at
Udacity. Regimented coursework similar to ones in formal education, is the brainchild of computer science professor Sebastian Thrun. He led the Stanford team that developed Stanley, the robotic car than won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. Udacity offers 14 different geek-centric courses, from basics like “Introduction to Physics”, to intermediate courses like “How to Build a Startup,” and advanced programs that teach you how to program AI for a robo-car or use Nvidia’s CUDA < a href=”http://www.onlinecultus.com/?p=2090″>technology to harness the power of GPUs, amongst other things.
Udacity’s programs are split into multiple units, each containing short lectures, quizzes, exercises, and homework assignments, with no set deadlines to accommodate today’s fast-paced world.
Udacity graduates say the work involved is serious and demanding. For example, the Udacity’s “Building a Search Engine” course is an introductory course, the program is detailed, as well as difficult and intense informative. It is a fact that only one out of ten students in his class managed to pass it out to the final exam.
If you manage to stay until the end, you can learn your chosen subject inside and out. You receive a certificate of completion, with indicated knowledge level. Some paid courses offer certified exams that you can show off to employers.
And if you really, truly manage to learn and pass, it might just pay off in a big way: Udacity works with over 20 high tech companies . They can help the outstanding students in finding them jobs in their chosen fields.
Imagine: Learning at the library could turn you into an honest-to-goodness job at Google or Facebook. That is something!
Crowd sourcing knowledge
The Wikimedia Foundation intention to bring crowd sourced knowledge to the masses does not end with Wikipedia. Wikiversity, is a project “devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning” says the main page of this site.
Wikiversity contains information categorized into education level, general topics, and subtopics, which can be searched using different filtering methods. The web site is not developed as the ones of the Khan Academy and YouTube, but it is worth the trouble.
Wikiversity has wider range of topics than most other online education resources: from basic reading, writing, and arithmetic to oddballs like stellar evolution, dentistry, and “Media information cognition.” The site offers resources in line with what you can find at traditional school, such as curated courses with progressive learning schemes, assigned Wikibooks reading, handouts, presentations, and essay ideas. The search is divided: by school, resource type, learning project, educational level, participation and completion status.
Some of the courses and lessons offer polished materials of university-level quality (check out Historical Introduction to Philosophy), a large number of the courses and individual pages lie dormant and half-finished, especially if you go into niche topics. If you are looking for a detailed education on a topic, choose the courses found in the Completed Resources and Nearly Completed Resources lists.
Learn languages online
It has never been easier to learn a foreign language!The world travelers, do not have to invest in costly language courses to learn a foreign language.
In addition to this the San Francisco Public < a href+”http://www.onlinecultus.com/?p=967″>Library offers its patrons access to Gate PowerSpeak and Mango Languages programs Language Lessons for the low price of absolutely free. The software costs hundreds of dollars.
BrokeAssStuart reports that full 19-unit courses are available in Mandarin, French, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean and Spanish, while primers in English, Italian, Greek, German, and Russian stick to three-unit tutorials.
And this does not end here.
For example, a California resident can obtain a library card by a San Francisco Public Library, even if one does not actually live in the city. The tutorials can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection, not just PCs at the library.
Go check you library terms! You might be surprised by the terms they offer.
Most libraries let their patrons check out current e-books to their e-readers. The New York Public Library offers over 30,000 e-books. Other available resources to be considered are: Coursera, Academic Earth, Google Code University, or University of Reddit.
A whole world of information available at your fingertips is available at the local library.
Let every day be the first day of the rest of your life, but especially let today be a new beginning.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie