Skip

i + e = δ
July 18, 2011 5:53 PM   Subscribe

144 sites for online education. Categories include science and health, business and money, history and culture, law, computer science, mathematics, and languages.

Some suggested additions: MathConcentration, Alison (interactive syllabus-based learning), and PatrickJMT (math tutorials).

A few of the sites in the list are part of the OpenCourseware Consortium, given previous mention on the blue.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (19 comments total) 200 users marked this as a favorite

 
A couple of weeks ago I was checking out MIT OpenCourseWare for courses in architecture and was disappointed with how primitive it is. If you're lucky you get a couple of slides lacking in information and context. There simply isn't enough course information so that you can learn even the most basic architectural concepts. Oh, and navigating through the courses and figuring out which ones to take in a huge PITA. Lots of courses are actually nothing more than repositories with little concern given to actually designing the entire online course experience.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:02 PM on July 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Unfortunately, very few sites offer courses beyond the sophomore level. I can however highly recommend Stanford's Fourier Transform course.
posted by Ardiril at 6:09 PM on July 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's great to have these resources. There's a lot of stuff here, from elementary-level math to material for beginning undergrads. I have no doubt that it can be very useful as a refresher to former students, as review and enrichment for current students, or as a preview for autodidacts.

But, contrary to the claims of many on Metafilter and elsewhere, there is no way this stuff can add up to a formal education. A lot of the courses have very partial materials: a few slide lectures, or a page of exam solutions, or some review sheets. Gilbert Strang's MIT video lecture series for undergrad linear algebra is really an enormous exception in terms of completeness. The technical courses are often years behind the times (like a Tufts course on Blender that's a few versions behind now). Most often, this stuff is only a marginal improvement on buying the textbook and just reading it.

Nothing on this list comes close to duplicating the benefits of graded homework, group study, cramming for exams, professor office hours, or TA sections, which is really where most of the actual learning happens.
posted by Nomyte at 6:13 PM on July 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


But, contrary to the claims of many on Metafilter and elsewhere, there is no way this stuff can add up to a formal education.

Obviously true to me, Nomyte, but then I'm not anti-scholarship/anti-education. I've gone through several colleges, seen the good and the bad, and despite the worst that's out there, completing a degree always says at least one positive thing about you: you can finish what you start.

Plus, all the benefits you list. Actual dialog is far better than sterile reading, every time. And the book is at most half the class, even in a highly technical class. Usually more like 25%.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:46 PM on July 18, 2011


Obviously true to me, Nomyte, but then I'm not anti-scholarship/anti-education.

I sympathize with your point of view, but I'm afraid to be mistaken for an academic loyalist. I admire "the university" as a cultural institution, but I don't think a highly structured, residential learning experience should be the only way to get a thorough education. Unfortunately, universities are the only learning communities we have left. None of the alternatives — like self-study and online learning — offer the benefits of ready access to learning peers and instructors, library resources, software labs, and active researchers. Asynchronous communication doesn't even come close to the spontaneity and convenience of raising your hand in class to ask a clarifying question and getting an immediate answer.

But if I could take that Fourier analysis class at some sort of learning annex, in the evenings, instead of in the mornings, three days a week, at $500 a credit, at my local college? I'd do it in heartbeat.
posted by Nomyte at 7:05 PM on July 18, 2011


Previously: Sal Khan, Not that Khan.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 7:16 PM on July 18, 2011


i + e = δ

Out of curiosity, what is this? It doesn't have any significant mathematical significance as far as I know
posted by jpdoane at 7:38 PM on July 18, 2011


Π and e stand around and φ walks by. "Mongrel," whispers π to e.
posted by Nomyte at 7:48 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


i + e = δ

Π and e stand around and φ walks by. "Mongrel," whispers π to e.



The great prince issues commands,
Founds states,
Vests families with fiefs.
Inferior people should not be employed.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:04 PM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I admire "the university" as a cultural institution, but I don't think a highly structured, residential learning experience should be the only way to get a thorough education.

Word. Traditional universities have had ample opportunity to leverage technology and pedagogy to improve the cost effectiveness of higher education. IMHO, they have failed miserably by every conceivable metric. Higher education consumes unprecedented levels of GDP and that spending continues to grow far in excess of the rate of inflation. Far too much of that spending has been directed toward non-educational efforts at the expense of the educational mission (the growth of administrative ranks being the most glaringly obvious). Institutional status seeking has become the growth industry (colleges becoming universities, sports programs, etc.), education is now a sideline.

My prediction: As rational alternatives evolve (online or otherwise), expect ever more unrestrained rent seeking behavior from the dinosaurtraditional educational industrial complex (ever increasing credentialism, accreditation and guild shenaniganry).
posted by Consult The Oracle at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I need to totally reboot my math education. I'd like to start from the ground up, because honestly I have no idea how fractions work.
posted by jnrussell at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just started my new job as an Instructional Designer (designing online courses) for a university. This is a timely post for me. It's an interesting and unstoppable field of education. I am in my heart a traditional academic, which is why I think working in this field is so exciting: online courses are as academically rigorous, possess as much integrity, and are as educational as the content specialists and designers make them. No different than the real world really.
posted by madred at 7:34 AM on July 19, 2011


I need to totally reboot my math education. I'd like to start from the ground up, because honestly I have no idea how fractions work.

Khan Academy looks like it would allow you to do exactly this.

Also, fractions are just division. If you can understand division or percentages, then that's all fractions are. Just a different notation for the same concept. (Adding and subtracting fractions with other fractions can be tricky, but the rules are a logical consequence of the fact that it's just division.)
posted by vogon_poet at 8:11 AM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


My prediction: As rational alternatives evolve (online or otherwise), expect ever more unrestrained rent seeking behavior from the dinosaurtraditional educational industrial complex (ever increasing credentialism, accreditation and guild shenaniganry).

I shared housing with someone who was pursuing a Master's degree in Psychology at the University of Phoenix online. He wrote essays about his grandparents and collaborated on 500-word "reports" with groups of several other students, who routinely failed to complete any work. The one course on quantitative approaches he took didn't actually involve any computation.

My prediction: the traditional university education will become (i.e., is rapidly becoming) increasingly restricted to two groups — the wealthy elite and the academically gifted. Everyone else will get a far inferior distance learning experience as a surrogate, under the pretense that it's "just as good."

My (elite, private) alma mater isn't suffering much financially these days. It's getting the newest equipment, erecting new buildings on campus, and cranking up tuition by some astronomical amount every year. It's the state schools and community colleges that are getting dismantled — and usually it's not because they spend too much on new facilities.
posted by Nomyte at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2011


Thanks, vogon_poet! Of course you're right that fractions shouldn't be that hard, and I recognize this, it's just that I have a few years of really inconsistent math education/magical thinking to unlearn when it comes to this stuff.
posted by jnrussell at 8:58 AM on July 19, 2011


Ardiril... Thanks for that Fourier link. I didn't watch it, but I did go over to a video of an MIT professor discussing wave interference. that was awesome stuff!
posted by symbioid at 10:41 AM on July 19, 2011


I admire "the university" as a cultural institution, but I don't think a highly structured, residential learning experience should be the only way to get a thorough education. Unfortunately, universities are the only learning communities we have left. None of the alternatives — like self-study and online learning — offer the benefits of ready access to learning peers and instructors, library resources, software labs, and active researchers.

So true, Nomyte. I'm teaching myself Mandarin. I have the advantage of multiple online & downloadable courses, with native speaker MP3s, computer-checked quizzes, and even the (sadly defunct) LanguageBuddy provided me with a bilingual speaker live over Skype (she would critique my Mandarin; I her English).

But it lags behind a real course, because of the lack of structure. OTOH, the lack of a schedule allows me to pursue it despite my chaotic living situation, and occasional financial turbulence.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2011


Nomyte: But if I could take that Fourier analysis class at some sort of learning annex, in the evenings, instead of in the mornings, three days a week, at $500 a credit, at my local college? I'd do it in heartbeat.

Can I teach at your hypothetical institution?

(Except I'm not an expert in Fourier analysis. But I do know some other useful things.)
posted by madcaptenor at 4:48 PM on July 19, 2011


I saw there was one ASL link (American Sign Language), for a dictionary, but I was surprised he didn't have this guy who has a whole ASL course online for free.
posted by marble at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2011


« Older The Cinefamily   |   A Brief Survey Of The Short Story Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post