Yale Launches Open Courses

Click here for 250 Free Online Cours­es From Great Uni­ver­si­ties

Yes­ter­day, Yale announced that it is pro­vid­ing “free and open access to sev­en intro­duc­to­ry cours­es taught by dis­tin­guished teach­ers and schol­ars at Yale Uni­ver­si­ty.” I’ve list­ed the course line­up below, with links to each course. You can access the home­page for the project here.

With this launch, Yale becomes the lat­est pres­ti­gious Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ty to give glob­al users access to online edu­ca­tion­al con­tent. But its approach is rather dif­fer­ent. The high pro­file ini­tia­tives led by MIT and UC Berke­ley both deliv­er high vol­umes of con­tent, and they’re designed to be scal­able. (MIT gives users access to mass quan­ti­ties of course mate­ri­als cre­at­ed by its fac­ul­ty, while Berke­ley dis­trib­utes through iTunes and YouTube over 50 cours­es that the uni­ver­si­ty records at a rea­son­able cost.) In con­trast, Yale’s project is more bou­tique and high-touch.

Each course fea­tures a syl­labus, read­ing assign­ments, class notes, and pol­ished lec­tures, which, when tak­en togeth­er, con­tribute to a more round­ed learn­ing expe­ri­ence. The lec­tures can be down­loaded in one of five for­mats (text, audio, flash video, low band­width quick­time video, and high band­width quick­time video). And quite notably, Yale has designed the cours­es to be down­loaded fair­ly eas­i­ly, which means that you can put the lec­tures onto an mp3 play­er if you’re a lit­tle tech savvy. This does raise the ques­tion, how­ev­er: why aren’t the lec­tures also post­ed on Yale’s iTunes site? This would sure­ly facil­i­tate the down­load­ing of lec­tures for many users, and it would offer an easy way to dri­ve sub­stan­tial traf­fic to the cours­es.

As some have already not­ed (see the com­ments on this page), Yale isn’t offer­ing online cours­es in the truest sense, mean­ing you won’t get access to a live instruc­tor here. Nor will you be able to inter­act with oth­er stu­dents. It’s a one-way, soli­tary edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence. But there’s a rea­son for that. Not long ago, Yale exper­i­ment­ed with a more com­pre­hen­sive form of online learn­ing when it cre­at­ed, along with Stan­ford and Oxford, an e‑learning con­sor­tium called “The Alliance for Life­long Learn­ing” (a/k/a All­Learn). For many rea­sons, the ven­ture (where I spent five years) was­n’t ulti­mat­ley viable. And so Yale has opt­ed for anoth­er mod­el that has its own virtues — it’s less cap­i­tal inten­sive; it’s free (All­Learn charged for its cours­es); and it will get edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als into far more peo­ple’s hands, which is per­haps what mat­ters most.

As a quick note, let me add that this project was fund­ed by the Hewlett Foun­da­tion, and Yale expects to add up to 30 addi­tion­al cours­es over the next sev­er­al years.

To vis­it Yale’s open cours­es, vis­it the fol­low­ing links:

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Comments (4)
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  • I’m a cur­rent Yale stu­dent, and I’m glad that they’re rolling out this more com­pre­hen­sive sup­port for open online cours­es… how­ev­er, I wish that they also com­ple­ment­ed this with MIT style course avail­abil­i­ty which even Har­vard has for large lec­tures, because it would be great to be able to have lec­tures to com­ple­ment nor­mal study and just for gen­er­al learn­ing as a great resource and for stu­dents look­ing to go beyond course eval­u­a­tions to see if pro­fes­sors are any good.

  • M. Sandula says:

    Sir, The Yale cours­es are tru­ly excel­lent. The tran­scripts and read­ings are price­less for those of us who learn by read­ing not by lis­ten­ing. How­ev­er, print­ing some of the tran­scripts is like print­ing the last line of an optometrists eye chart. In addi­tion some of the tran­scripts can­not be print­ed at all or print with dropped words and lines at the right side. I can’t seem to get around this glitch. I have con­tact­ed you before but noth­ing seems to change.

  • Joshua Davis says:

    prof.L. Hammond,obviously a schol­ar, would allow his inter­net stu­dents to appre­ci­ate his eru­di­tion if he focused more on an expli­ca­tion of the text(poems). I feel an inor­di­nate peri­od of time in his lec­tures in the Mod­ern Amer­i­can Poet­ry course is spent on back­ground mate­r­i­al: biog­ra­phy, phi­los­o­phy, psy­chol­o­gy, meter, scan­sion. Short shrift was giv­en to exam­in­ing the text of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

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