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Monster list of free online college courses

A wide variety of topics are covered.

By Karen Datko Oct 18, 2009 8:14PM

Just the other day, we were thinking it might be time to brush up on advanced complexity theory. And because we're expanding our vegetable garden, knowing more about soil mechanics might help. (Well, maybe not because we haven't taken the prerequisites.)

And in case we've forgotten about the particular charms and indignities of aging, we can take free courses on that too, courtesy of Johns Hopkins.

If you have knowledge gaps you want to fill, you can do it online -- for free. To help you find a particular topic, is building "The master list of free online college courses." Feel free to let them know of courses that don't yet appear.

We had no idea how engaging these free online courses could be until we checked out a few on this massive list.

For instance, a course available through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's OpenCourseWare caught our eye -- American Consumer Culture. Two of the books on the reading list can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg. Two others, including "Fast Food Nation," are likely available  at the local library.

The related reading is intriguing as well, and includes the Museum of the Moving Image's "The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2008." That's right. You can watch hundreds of old political commercials, if you're so inclined. If not, move on to Game Theory, or take French online.

For better or worse, taking free online courses is not the same as enrolling in a class. Your study is self-directed and you won't earn credits toward a degree. But homework and exams are optional.

Costs can be involved but they're optional too. For instance, if we really had the background to understand the MIT course on advanced complexity theory (not even close), we could download the lecture notes for free but we'd also want to acquire the recommended books.

Published June 5, 2009



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