10 January, 2007

MIT Open Courseware

Ever felt like studying linguistics but were too stingy to pay out tens of thousands of dollars for a degree course? (Come on, we all know you’re good for it.) Or what about civil engineering, or anthropology? Medicine? Physics? Well, now, thanks to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you can.

This amazing institution has put most of its courses online through the MIT Open Courseware programme. Take ten seconds to have a look at the site (2 minutes if, like me, your government can’t get it’s act together to make broadband available even in the major cities) and you’ll see what I mean. It is an absolute cornucopia of educational goodies, a treasure-trove of pedagogical riches, a … Well, you get the idea. I’m impressed.

I know you can get information about most things from the Web (with a bit of poking around) but to get so much, from such a well-respected and trusted source, and for it to be already structured into courses, is just staggering. As a piece of epistemological generosity, as a gift of inestimable value to the world, it ranks alongside some of my other most-admired reference sites, such as Project Gutenberg, Wikipedia, How Stuff Works, APOD, The Domesday Book, and the Dilbert Archive.

MIT says it intends to have each and every one of its courses online soon. I can only gasp in admiration at these people.

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