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Free Classes Online - More and More Schools Offer Free Classes Online

courses available video textbooks

In the spirit of public service and love of education, many websites offer not just online classes, but free classes online. Free classes online are unpaying, unofficial courses available in every major field. Ranging from simple slideshows to full-on lecture series, these courses are useful for refreshers, crash courses, and guided learning for a growing number of users.

As one might expect, free classes do not result in valid, credible diplomas; they are a different sort of resource, available in surprising abundance from an array of high quality schools. For some, they represent a freely available refresher course, a chance to reacquaint oneself with a half-remembered lesson. Others use free online classes as a primer, a chance to chew on the idea of a class or field before investing in expensive coursework. At times, it can even be a way to familiarize oneself with an online class before approaching one for real. A few even use free classes online for pure love of knowledge and find them preferable to simple textbooks in their systematic approaches to learning.

Whatever the reason, the options are many. Multiple top tier schools including MIT, Yale, and Stanford all offer free courses online. In many cases, these courses are assembled scrapbooks donated by professors, including lecture notes, old tests, answer keys, syllabi, and lesson plans. In this way, an online learner can get free access to some of the country’s leading minds without paying a dime.

What these courses do not generally offer is the textbooks themselves, which generally must be acquired to complete the reading assignments. Most texts can be borrowed from libraries or purchased secondhand. MIT provided an interesting solution to this problem by working out a deal with Amazon where their open source classes would get 10% off any sale made through their links, thus generating income to keep the service available. Indeed, Amazon is a fine source for used textbooks: books costing $150 off the shelf can regularly be found for $15.

Some online courses offer videos and transcripts of lectures. Yale is great for this, offering thorough archives of video lectures for free through their Open Yale courses. Professor Donald Kagan’s course on ancient Greek history, for example, includes a text transcript, mp3 track, and three qualities of video for each lecture from the Dark Ages to the Polis.

The breadth of classes available with free classes online is staggering. The Open University, a free England-based online college, will help teach conversational French in fifteen hours. Utah State provides two hours of streaming video on the subject of Cattle Management. The University of California Irvine even provides a slideshow and quiz for how to run a spa.

Given that making video is cheap, easy, and useful to live courses, it does not take much money to offer free classes online. Even relatively minor public universities like Eastern Illinois University have been known to throw some lectures on Youtube, such as those offered by a group of English professors who call themselves the Close Reading Cooperative.

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