by Jamie Littlefield, About.com
What is OpenCourseWare?
OpenCourseWare is class material such as syllabi, reading lists, lecture notes, and other documents that were once used in an actual classroom and are now available to the public for free. Several universities make this material available on their websites as a service to the public.
How is OpenCourseWare different from enrolling in an actual course?
You can access OpenCourseWare materials whenever you want and can use it however you please. However, you will not have any access to university faculty or other support services. You cannot receive credit for using OpenCourseWare.
Who uses OpenCourseWare?
Self-educators, autodidacts, homeschoolers, unschoolers, and anyone else who is interested in learning on their own can take advantage of OpenCourseWare. If you're interested in learning online, but feel anxious about investing money and time into a program, you can use OpenCourseWare to experiment. Some people choose to study the material in groups, meeting in person or through the internet.
Where can I find OpenCourseWare?
There are several colleges and universities that offer OpenCourseWare material on their websites. Take a look at these top sites:
- MIT – The forerunner of OpenCourseWare, this college provides dozens of detailed courses, as well as audio and video lectures.
- Fulbright Economics Teaching Program – Offers economics and marketing OpenCourseWare.
- Tufts University – Provides users with access to material from a number of disciplines including medicine, nutrition, arts, and sciences.
- John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – Offers many health-related courses.
- Utah State University – Provides OpenCourseWare for multiple undergraduate disciplines.