Directory

ALISON

From its website

ALISON* is the world’s leading free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills. … Through the ALISON learning platform we can assist people around the world in educating themselves, thereby creating a more equitable and sustainable global society.

We believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available for free online. We also believe that Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free…” will, through ALISON, become a reality.

* ALISON stands for “Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online”.

Summary

ALISON started in 2007 in the UK.  Information Week reportedly called it “the original MOOC.”  (MOOC–Massive Open Online Course)

It offers courses in major groupings including Business and Enterprise Skills; Financial and Economic Literacy; Health Literacy; Digital Literacy and IT Skills; Personal Development and Soft Skills; as well as Language and Diploma courses.  The courses are FREE (but larded with advertisements and time for them to load and clear before you can get to your learning).

After completing the registration, I (Doris) completed an introductory module on Adobe Connect, the same-time meeting application.  It took 40 minutes to complete the module and do the assessment.   The video lecture, offered by a teacher in Great Britain with his own online teaching studio, was clear but might have been better if he had had participants in the room to interact with.  The follow-up assessment was a standard read the question, click on the answer, with immediate feedback on right/incorrect choices.  There could be variations on course teaching methods because there are many different instructors and topics.

ALISON can be used to introduce you to topics via the short modules.  If you like them and are learning, then you could continue with ALISON offerings or one of the many fee-based training/learning options advertised on the same page with ALISON course material.  Do check to see when the ALISON course was launched because it may be outdated.  Second, the advertising distractions mentioned earlier, can be eliminated entirely for a 50Euro annual subscription or reduced to popups between modules for 15Euros a year.    But I would only pay the subscription if I were absolutely sure that ALISON would give me exactly what I wanted.  Why pay a fee when there are many heavy-weight university-based MOOCs that  are free of cost and advertising from the get-go?

Harvard Medical School Open Courseware Initiative

From its website

The mission of the Harvard Medical School Open Courseware Initiative is to exchange knowledge from the Harvard community of scholars to other academic institutions, prospective students, and the general public. Through the MyCourses initiative, Harvard has created a web-enabled distance learning environment for the four years of medical school. Mycourses is being expanded to support residencies and fellowships during the summer of 2002. By the end of 2002, MyCourses will be expanded to include Continuing Medical Education. By serving the needs of the medical school, graduate medical education and continuing medical education, the Mycourses platform provides lifelong learning for those associated with the Harvard community. Recognizing our moral obligation to share this knowledge with other academic communities and the general public, we have launched the Open Courseware Initiative. Every faculty member at Harvard, in every course, may share course content with the public by simply checking a box on a web page to identify course resources to post to the Open Courseware Initiative. The Academy at Harvard Medical School, a community of scholars encouraging innovation and quality teaching, will encourage the use of the Open Courseware Initiative Platform among all the faculty.

Summary

If you have ever wanted to say that you have studied at Harvard, this Initiative might be the right opportunity for you.

iTunes U

From its website

The world’s largest online catalog of free education content.

Learn a new language. Study Shakespeare. Discover the cosmos. It’s all possible on iTunes U, home to more than 500,000 free lectures, videos, books, and other resources on thousands of subjects. Among the hundreds of colleges, universities, and elementary and high schools on iTunes U, you’ll find Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, and UC Berkeley, along with other distinguished institutions such as MoMA, the New York Public Library, and more. The free iTunes U app gives you access to an online catalog of free education content from leading institutions. The topics range from science to technology to art to music to philosophy and history.

Summary

The University of Chicago adds to our understanding of iTunesU.

iTunes U offers educational multimedia content from hundreds of colleges and universities across the country. It can be accessed through the iTunes Store. If you want to access content from iTunes U, you must first download iTunes to your computer. The University of Chicago launched its site on iTunes U in October 2008.

To get started, set up your iTunesU account from an iPad, iPhone or iPad Touch or Windows PC.

EdX

From edX’s website

edX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. Based on a long history of collaboration and their shared educational missions, the founders are creating a new online-learning experience with online courses that reflect their disciplinary breadth.

Along with offering online courses, the institutions will use edX to research how students learn and how technology can transform learning–both on-campus and worldwide. Anant Agarwal, former Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, serves as the first president of edX. edX’s goals combine the desire to reach out to students of all ages, means, and nations, and to deliver these teachings from a faculty who reflect the diversity of its audience. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is governed by MIT and Harvard.

Summary

Courses are started throughout the year.  All edX courses are free. The lectures, homework, simulations, and textbook are all available online.  Each course overview reviews the content and methods; time required; prerequisites (if any); faculty profiles, etc. Below is the description of the  course titled The Ancient Greek Hero scheduled for Spring 2013.  It does not have prerequisites.

“The Ancient Greek Hero” will use the latest technology to help students engage with poetry, songs, and stories first composed more than two millennia ago; this literature includes the “Homeric Iliad and Odyssey,” a selection of lyric poetry (including the songs of Sappho), excerpts of prose history, seven tragedies, two Platonic dialogues, and the intriguing but rarely studied dialogue, “On Heroes” by Philostratus. Through English translations that have been carefully prepared and arranged for this course, as well as through supplementary comparative material drawn from cultures other than the Greek, and featuring a wide variety of media such as vase painting, European opera, and cinema—from Ingmar Bergman’s version of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” to Ridley Scott’s science fiction classic, Blade Runner—the course provides students who have no previous background in classical Greek civilization with a fully engaging and immediately accessible introduction to the most beautiful moments in this ancient literature, its myths, and ritual practices.

Academic Earth

From its Website

A world-class education at your fingertips.

Academic Earth aims to provide everyone with the opportunity to earn a world-class education by offering free online classes and online learning tools. Whether you’re looking to advance your career or take classes that interest you, Academic Earth can connect you to the world’s top universities and scholars.

Summary

This is a repository of FREE university courses and lectures that have been made available online.  (Did we say free yet?)  If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to sit in on a lecture at a prestigious university, this site offers a window into classrooms at UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Yale, and more.  The university level content is wide ranging such as business, mathematics, engineering, science, humanities, social sciences, art and design, and test preparation for ACT, SAT, GRE, and LSAT, etc.

The top ranked courses include an introduction to Computer Science and Programming, Introduction to Ancient Greek History and Physics II:  Electricity and Magnetism.  Academic Earth also offers “playlists” that take you to short-term lecture series on You Are What You Eat (3 lectures), The Nature of Evil (6 lectures), Love is in the Air (6  lectures) and Living a Good Life (3 lectures).