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Education!
February 2, 2010 10:25 PM   Subscribe

Do you want to go to IIT for engineering? Or maybe Yale? Open classes are everywhere now.
posted by pelham (22 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ok, maybe not everywhere, but in a lot of places.
posted by pelham at 10:36 PM on February 2, 2010


Thanks for the reminder. I always mean to do the MIT open courseware, but then get distracted. Here goes (yet another) college try!
posted by davejay at 10:54 PM on February 2, 2010


Yale has Robert Shiller's class online, which has some really excellent stuff for anyone interested in finance. Shiller is the author of Irrational Exuberance.
posted by mullacc at 11:08 PM on February 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched Yale's Financial Markets by Prof. Robert Shiller over winter break. Two observations:

1. Not as fun without homework and graders.
2. I don't think any of their guest lecturers was on the level with students.

The endowment manager declares market timing is impossible; we're led to believe the 28 percent annual return is due to diversification. Deal made in passing to buy an airline in partnership with another group. When pressed for details he gives an incredibly evasive answer about treating it as an experiment in behavioral economics. I checked the news on this, and their business partner? A Ponzi scheme taken down a few months after the conclusion of the recorded class. Probably the most interesting is the Blackstone speaker who suggests that private equity is an attempt to create insider information legally.

I'd go on, but I don't want this to turn into a thread about a single class.
posted by pwnguin at 11:13 PM on February 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


FUCK YEAR, this guy got me through Intro. digital circuits. Both my generic white guy roomate and I found the IIT brown dude so much more understandable than the brown dude our school hired....

Also the IIT guy probably doesn't steal his lecture slides from University of Toronto....

Also, he doesn't call them "flippy-floppies"
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 11:20 PM on February 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


hmmm...free college. interesting. i wonder if that will work out as well for universities as giving away free news has been for the newspaper industry.
does anybody else get the feeling that the internet is hell-bent on destroying all money and the possibility of anyone earning any?
posted by sexyrobot at 12:31 AM on February 3, 2010


You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by ymgve at 12:35 AM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


No. You can use online course material to learn things for yourself but it does not confer onto you any sort of accreditation or mark of actual qualification.

In North America, in many cases you can simply ask any University professor to sit in on their lectures. Hell, in the larger classes held in lecture halls, you can basically walk in and no one will care or check to see that you are a student, assuming your presence there isn't disruptive*.

Tuition is just the cover charge to get past exam hall bouncers so you can get grades or whatever.

*Please note that all of this should be taken with a grain of post 9/11 salt
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 12:51 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure you could go to sections and office hours, too. Probably not labs.
posted by ryanrs at 1:23 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps giving away materials can helps restore the primacy of the evaluation and filtering function of Universities rather than have them simply function as an informal credit rating service that tells you nothing more than that the student's tuition cheques cleared.
posted by srboisvert at 1:24 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can use online course material to learn things for yourself but it does not confer onto you any sort of accreditation or mark of actual qualification.

Just Like College.

Most forward thinking colleges have come to the same conclusion I have, and no, that's not a barometer of their intellectual level (it's a barometer of mine). Our greatest national debt is neither monetary nor moral. We have lost not the desire, not the ability, but the will to learn. We no longer understand the mechanisms by which we can stoke our own intellectual furnaces.

Perhaps free flowing cutting edge information and ideas will be our new figurative gasoline and perhaps lead us to our new literal gasoline.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 3:14 AM on February 3, 2010


That rose-colored past where everyone in college was there for a good reason. Was that ever true? Weren't they just there because they were rich?
posted by smackfu at 5:33 AM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Without the ability to ask questions, you're not going to learn much besides a bunch of facts. The empty areas in your head, the parts between the facts—you need to be able to ask questions to fill those in.

does anybody else get the feeling that the internet is hell-bent on destroying all money and the possibility of anyone earning any?

Only for education and the arts, in all their glorious forms.

And since these are the two things that all civilizations are evaluated on, I welcome it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:41 AM on February 3, 2010


On one hand I think this is great. On the other hand, it's frustrating that I could virtually attend these lectures, do all the work, learn all the material and.... that's it? Why does a mechanism not exist to get a grade and course credit? There's no good reason for people to have to suffer through some inept local doesn't-give-a-fuck instructor when everybody could be taking classes from the best instructors in the world. It's deeply frustrating.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:46 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I am beginning to hate to plug Apple, don't forget about iTunes U.

do all the work, learn all the material and.... that's it?

You have the knowledge - if you are already in a technical field, this could further your career - even without a formal peice of paper.

During the course of my career (1991 onwards), I have found that there are two types of people; those who are continually learning and those who are deadweight.
posted by jkaczor at 6:06 AM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


In North America, in many cases you can simply ask any University professor to sit in on their lectures.

Did this last semester (albeit with a prof who remembered me from classes I took with him undergrad), had a lot of fun. Excellent class, great guest speakers.

Though it was a little difficult, because it was a large class (~70 students), so I felt guilty speaking up, as I didn't want to take time form the paying kids, and I didn't want to intimidate/discomfort them being so much older (yeah, sure, I knew who Paul Warnke was, becuase I actually been to a talk by Paul Warnke -- a guy who died when most of the students in my class were preteens).

But at the same time, I didn't want a prof who'd remembered me to think I'd gone stupid. If I'd been paying, I wouldn't have worried about speaking up. That said, when I asked the prof about it, he told me to speak up if I had something to say. But generally, I'd wait until none of the kids seemed to want to speak. So I had this constant worry, am I participating too much or too little.

And, to be frank, it was also difficult because I was out of practice with extemporaneous thinking on my feet, outside of what I do for work. Participating in Metafilter has perhaps sharpened my writing, but it's hurt my response time: I'm now used to having time to write, then edit, then hit submit. And the course load plus an 8-12 hour mentally exhausting a day job was -- well it was too much; I didn't have time to work as diligently as I should have for that class.
posted by orthogonality at 6:07 AM on February 3, 2010


Rich? Education? Geez, what kind of U did you go to?

It's the PARTY, stupid.
posted by Goofyy at 7:02 AM on February 3, 2010


In North America, in many cases you can simply ask any University professor to sit in on their lectures.

This is actually a form of theft with the professor as a collaborator. Check any University's student handbook and you will see that they charge a reduced tuition for auditing a course. The classroom and the lecture are not the professor's to give to you.
posted by srboisvert at 7:20 AM on February 3, 2010


This is actually a form of theft with the professor as a collaborator. Check any University's student handbook and you will see that they charge a reduced tuition for auditing a course. The classroom and the lecture are not the professor's to give to you.


Maybe this is true at private universities. UC Berkeley (for instance) says this:

"With the consent of the instructor, registered students and interested individuals are permitted to audit classes. Arrangements are made directly with the faculty member under any rules the faculty member may establish, and those auditing ordinarily do not participate in discussions, exams, or written papers. Audited classes are not recorded on the student's class schedule or on academic transcripts."
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 7:29 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure about other universities but the University of Toronto allowed anyone to sit in as long as the lecturer allowed you to (and I don't think I've ever had a lecturer who didn't). In fact, quite a few of my evening math lectures (ordinary differential equations, group theory, etc.) had older, mature students that sat in and asked lots of questions. It was obvious they weren't regular students because they were never at the exams.

I thought it was great and generous of the university as a paying student. Most students just mindlessly copied notes anyhow.
posted by tksh at 7:36 AM on February 3, 2010


Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender!: "Maybe this is true at private universities."

It's also true at my publicly funded community college. They have a strict policy that only paying students may attend. Even auditors have to pay tuition to not receive a grade. It was apparently quite a bureaucratic process to allow translators for the deaf into the classroom.

The difference, I believe, is that giant research universities have such a large research budget that dwarfs their teaching function, and the sole purpose of CCs is teaching. For example, we also have strict 30 person limits per class, as required by accreditation. Even for online classes taught by the same person we keep separate rosters.
posted by pwnguin at 10:27 AM on February 3, 2010


I wanted to do an online MIT course a couple of years ago. However, the course was highly dependent on assigned readings which were largely articles from obscure journals. (I was unable to get my hands on the photocopy compilation they had made.)
posted by neuron at 8:09 PM on February 3, 2010


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