Free Knowledge 101As tuition costs
for higher education continue to rise toward utter out-of-handedness, the open-courseware movement offers something revolutionary: free class materials, readings, and journals made available online for anyone who wants to use them.Heralded as the most democratizing education innovation since the advent of the printing press, the movement has some standout examples of groups helping people overcome the social and economic barriers to higher education. Here are a few:MIT OPENCOURSEWARE
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology publishes virtually all of its class materials online. That means that if you've always wanted to brush up on the combinational theory of hyperplane arrangements but didn't have the academic chops (or the financial means) to enroll at MIT, you can trudge through the info yourself.ccLEARN
No discussion of open courseware would be complete without the inclusion of Creative Commons' ccLearn, which aims to minimize the legal, technical, and social barriers to sharing educational materials by spreading the growth of access to free educational resources.iTUNES U
"Free" isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Macs, but at Apple's iTunes U (in the iTunes store), users can freely download more than 200,000 educational media files from prestigious universities directly into their iPods. (Those devices, however, aren't free.)CONNEXIONS
Connexions, a program which was launched at Rice University in 1999, plays with the idea that we don't think or learn linearly; rather, we learn by making connections among things we already know. Connexions, therefore, uses modules that, unlike words in textbooks, can be arranged in any number of ways.CONTINUING EDUCATION For other examples of open courseware, check out Curriki, TeachForward, and the Open High School of Utah.