Of all the changes that the Internet has brought to life, one of the very best has to be the widespread availability of educational and learning materials. Today, if you can get on the net, you have available to you an astounding amount of information. You can virtually learn anything.
But to get the best of the materials available to you , you should start with the best resources. This post, brief though it is, will help you discover the very best educational materials on the Internet.
The Khan Academy
The very best place to start in your virtual classroom is The Khan Academy.
The Khan Academy is the fruit of Salmon Khan, a second generation Bangladeshi American, with multiple degrees from MIT and Harvard. Khan did not start his work life intending to radically transform education. Initially he was an analyst for a hedge fund, albeit one with an amazing intellect.
But in helping out a young cousin in her studies, Khan discovered his passion, and the rest is an amazing set of video tutorials, 3200 strong, hosted at The Khan Academy, as well as via You Tube. Khan’s work has been recognized for its effectiveness, and drawn major financial backing from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.
The Khan Academy says of itself: ”The Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.”
Courses range from math (of all types from K-12), chemistry, physics, finance, history, art history and others. If you are interested in using the web to deepen your knowledge of any of these topics, you should check out The Khan Academy.
Cost? Absolutely free. Value? Priceless.
Another series of amazing learning materials available free for your use is found via Apple’s iTunes U.
Yes, I know, I know. This is an Apple iOS only service.
Right. iTunes U has no Android app. No Windows Phone app.
Now, then, for the bunches of us who have an iPhone, iPod or iPad, lets have a peak at the offerings.
iTunes U features courses from notable universities including Yale, Stanford, Duke, Harvard, UCLA, and many many more. The list is very impressive.
Some universities are obviously using iTunes U more as a means of recruiting students (a disappointing approach indicating that they don’t generally see the potential for the delivery of classes via the Internet).
Others, however, provide full length courses with amazing depth and content. For instance, the General Chemistry course offering from Ohio State University includes 115 video lectures.
To gain the full advantage of iTunes U, it is suggested to use the iOS apps for iTunes U, and not simply use the courses available via iTunes on a Mac or PC.
This post only barely scratches the surface of what is available online. While I have focused only on two offerings, I wanted to point out that many (most?) universities and colleges are offering courses online. Of course as credit bearing courses they include cost. The Khan Academy and iTunes U are free.
I confess that in light of the astounding cost of traditional universities and colleges, the courses available online seem much more cost effective. There genuinely should be no reason for a world class education to not be available via the Internet.
What has been your experience with online education or training? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?