[Por razones prácticas he preferido escribir este post en inglés, aunque en muchos de los webs enlazados abajo tienen una versión en español. Disculpa las molestias.]
What will be the best way for an E. T. to learn as much as possible about human nature? In the movie, he watched TV all day. But is prime TV the best way to learn about the world In the past few months (and for some even years) we witness an impressive amount of bloggers, articles (both academic and newspaper) and general conversation that are writing about and discussing the recent education revolution. I´m referring to the Massive Open Online Course, commonly known by the acronym MOOC. The MOOCs are the free virtual university classroom and it is the symbol of this new and exciting era where accessibility to knowledge was never simpler and more accessible.
You are probably thinking what the majority were saying in the first couple of years since 2008 (and what some still do today): ‘we don´t have time for that’ or ‘I have a daytime job’. Well, while this certainly is true, the MOOCs provide unprecedented opportunity where people of half a century ego only dreamt of.
This is why I decided to make it easier to all of you that are knowledge addicts and put together a list of useful links to some of the many resources.
My own experience with online learning and virtual classroom started years ago when I first started viewing courses and podcasts through sites as Academ.org and LearnersTV and such. Later I upgraded to Google Academic Earth, with a large variety of courses from all subjects and a multitude of universities. While my extracurricular passion is Social Psychology and Social Science I also inscribed and followed classes about Economics, Philosophy and Psychology (I even tried Mathematics but I admit that it wasn´t my cup of tea).
Today, thanks to innovators such as Andrew Ng (London, 1976), Daphne Koller (Jerusalem, 1968), Bestian Thrun (Solingen, 1967), Anant Argawal (Bombay, 1960) and many more we have platforms that not only provide us with the courses but also the framework for us to be able to take one step further towards making it an official diploma. Probably the biggest of all is Coursera with more than 17 million students from all over the world. The 400 classes are given in 83 different education centers all over the world in all the major languages.
The MIT open courseware, whether it is learning Italian language and home cooking simultaneously, psychology or the world of Finance, you have the opportunity to follow your passion into a more profound level. If you are more into language try Duolingo or maybe to learn computer code (in codeacademy), possibilities are endless.
Other important universities also began their own web of free and shared lectures. Some of the most known are: Cornell’s eCommons (like this interesting one about Quantum Theory made simple), Harvard’s edX (initiated with MIT), Stanford Online and many others (click here for a list of 775 free online courses from different universities).
Other centers and platforms that are just as good are: Udacity, Iversity (where I personally take a course this semester), Khan Academy, e-learning, Edmodo (highschool education), Open2Study, P2PU amongst others.
And so, as Koller tell us in a wonderful TED Talk, today, education can travel over barriers as financial difficulties, distance to the closest education facility, and physical disability. With a click of a mouse and average internet connection (whether private or public), everyone can become a student and participate in this wonder we call universal knowledge.