Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Sites for Finding Great Online Lectures

Online lectures are a new trend, prompted by the spreading availability of high speed internet and the increasing importance individuals are placing on learning. Depending on what you want to learn (and who you want to learn it from), online lectures can be an hour long exercise or a series of lectures, similar to if you were auditing a course at college. A select number of programs will even issue a certificate of completion. Online lectures allow you to learn more about a particular subject without necessarily committing to a semester of intense study, and can increase your horizons as well as increase your negotiating power with employers. Here are five great sites to try for online lectures.

The YouTube EDU Channel

The YouTube EDU channel combines some of the best attributes of online lectures in place. The collection here ranges from informal but educative short videos (Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Animation) to intense lecture series from award winning scientists at leading universities (Game Theory with Ben Polak). Two of the advantages of YouTube EDU are the ease of sharing the videos you enjoy with others and the ability to format them into playlists that you can share or save for later.

MIT OpenCourseWare

OpenCourseWare is a program from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT. Nearly every subject or discipline taught at MIT has donated online lectures and course materials for the public at large to audit – free of charge. No credits or certificates are granted and most of the materials do not represent a full course, but for those who want to experience a little of what an MIT education can provide it is an excellent resource. For more intense learning, keep an eye on MITx, which plans to offer courses with certificates in an online learning environment this fall.

Virtual Professors

The Virtual Professors website is an online lecture library packed with lectures from professors and others who are leaders in their fields. Here you can learn about everything from how technology can make government more efficient to multivariable calculus. The difference between Virtual Professors and the YouTube Channel is that Virtual Professors allows you to download the videos, instead of constantly streaming. That means you can save and transfer the videos to a device that does not have internet access to watch later.

Open Yale Courses

Open Yale Courses is essentially an online audit of some of Yale’s best introductory courses. While it isn’t possible to access advanced or graduate courses or receive certification, Open Yale Courses can still expand your horizons. The lectures here also feel more like university courses, since nearly all of them are filmed in Yale classrooms during actual courses.

Academic Earth

Academic Earth pulls together lecture videos from Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Stanford, and other leading institutions. All of the major subjects are represented, and courses can be watched or paused according to your schedule. Though no certificates are issued through Academic Earth, these courses could help you prepare for taking a certification test elsewhere. Either way, Academic Earth and similar online lecture sites are a great way to continue your education flexibly, at your own pace.

Laura McPherson is a writer for Teacher Certification Degrees, a growing career resource for individuals interested in becoming a teacher.