Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top 100 Open Courseware Projects

Open courseware projects provide a head rush for many autodidactics because those projects often offer lecture notes, chapters or entire textbooks online, illustrations, charts, and other tools that help the reader learn a given subject. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) gained notoriety for its online open courseware (OCW) offerings and many other colleges have followed this example; however, the self-learner probably knows that many college professors have offered their course outlines and materials online for years before MIT laid claim to this effort.
Whether you're taking a break from tuition courses, need supplementary materials for college courses, require materials to help out on the job, or want to gain life experience, online open courseware can help you reach your goals. The 100 open courseware sources listed below are freely available for anyone to use, whether you're a student, an instructor, or a self-learner. The courses are categorized by subject and listed alphabetically within that subject.
While you cannot earn credits for working through these "courses," in some cases you can obtain credits if you're a registered university student. Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative (OLI), for instance, provides credits to Carnegie Mellon and to other university students when their instructors provide a "course admit code" for registration. Otherwise, individuals who aren't students can work through the modules — which range from biology to statistics — at no cost.
Finally, this list is not all-inclusive, as college-level courseware projects number in the thousands, perhaps more if you count professor home pages that are "open courseware" but have never been labeled as such. With this list and some search capabilities you can spread your wings and find more subjects to your liking.

Education Arcade

MIT researchers are creating academically driven computer games that rival commercial products and make learning fun.
It's early afternoon on a Sunday at Boston's Museum of Science. Brittle winter light floods the lower lobby of the Green Wing, where about a dozen young students are huddled in teams, peering at Pocket PCs, their parents listening nearby. There's a palpable sense of urgency among the team members; everyone's shouting at once. Eleven-year-old Katie Long, a self-assured fifth grader from Wellesley, MA, steps in and takes charge of her group-two girls, one boy, a father, and two mothers-by fiat. She's figured out what to do with the technology and begins organizing her troop into attack formation.
The boisterous students are playing Hi-Tech Who Done It!, a crime-solving game created for the museum by MIT faculty and students. It incorporates handheld computers connected to the museum's wireless network, which the students are using to catch a thief. First, they use the Wi-Fi network to locate information stations that contain clues, and then they download the clues to their handhelds. Each team member has an assigned role, such as biologist, detective, or technologist; some of the clues are available only to certain characters. But all of the teammates can beam data they gather into each other's computers through the wireless network. The idea is to collect clues and objects, conduct interviews, and glean relevant facts from museum exhibits, sharing the accumulated information and using it to solve the case of a mysterious theft from the museum's collection. As it works its way through 11 exhibit rooms, the team becomes more comfortable with the technology and quickly establishes a modus operandi: gather information fast and worry about its meaning later. The students on Katie's team are exuberant, running from room to room, so enthused that their parents and a videographer taping the event can barely keep up. In the end, Katie's team solves the crime, arresting a security guard who has stolen the museum's mummy. But more, the students have learned how to work as a team.
Hi-Tech Who Done It! is part of a research project called the Education Arcade that aims to make computer and video games a valuable component of teaching. The undertaking is a collaboration between MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will ultimately bring together a consortium of educators, game designers, publishers, and policymakers to develop sophisticated games that range from quick demonstrations that illustrate points made in lectures to semester-long projects that support the content of courses. The educational games will be aimed at motivating high-school students or helping advanced-high-school or first-year college students learn complex concepts. Teachers will also benefit, as the Education Arcade is developing a website that will serve as a clearinghouse for lesson plans coordinated with existing commercial games, projects and programs to help students learn to create games, and online forums where teachers can share best practices with their peers.


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