I loved getting my college education, however, I did not love (and still don’t love) paying the bills for it. So what’s a good way to get some of the benefits of a college education without cashing out for thousands of dollars?
On-line lecture series. (Isn’t it interesting that the plural of series is series? No? OK, then.)
There are a variety of sources to get on-line lectures, with the most obvious being at Youtube. My favorite, however, is AcademicEarth.org. The site is very well-designed and easy to navigate. You can search for a particular topic you are interested in, or browse through a series of different subject areas, schools, or professors.
The most impressive part of the site is the quality of the instruction. Professors from Yale, Berkeley, MIT and more have entire courses available for you to listen to or watch.
This is where another great design move pays off. They have RSS feeds of the lectures in both video and audio format. You can just pop them into your everyday RSS reader and just pull off the next lecture as you finish the previous one. The organization is stellar and I found a breeze to get through the technical part of using the site to the actual content.
I listened to the class on economic game theory from Yale’s Benjamin Polak, and was very impressed. How much you get out of the class. of course, depends on what you put in. I did not, however, buy the books or do any out of lecture reading assignments. I basically just listened to the lectures and thought about them during the day.
I found an amazing amount of applicability to this particular class in my every day life, though. For example, there was a leak in the ceiling of my apartment. I would call the superintendent every couple of days to see that it would get fixed. For weeks this went on and nothing happened. It was only when I started calling and visiting his family every day, or to use the economic terms, when I added costs to the delay of fixing my ceiling and improved his payoffs, that he actually came to fix it.
While this is a pretty simple example, if you decided to listen to this particular course, I think you’ll find a lot of application in your life like I did. It is pretty friendly to people who are uncomfortable with math. There isn’t a lot of it in the course, and in the lectures, you can safely ignore or skip over the sections that deal with the theory behind the examples.
So for a college experience that may not be so different from what many graduates actually did in college, check out AcademicEarth.org.
If you have any great sites for learning or education, just throw them in the comments.