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Free Online Courses Stimulate E-learning Appetites

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

How do you return to school if there is no money in the budget and no time to meet homework deadlines?

Thankfully, there is a solution for wannabe students who are not prepared to pay tuition bills, or who are hesitant about committing their time to an online degree program.

They can try out one of the free online classes from top colleges and universities across the country.

In fact, following the lead of several Ivy League schools, Stanford University now offers 10 free online classes through its School of Engineering.

The free program, known as Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE), is available to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. It is the first time that Stanford has made these classes available tuition-free; and it is a wonderful opportunity for students and faculty all over the world.

Among the 10 classes included are: a 3-course Introduction to Computer Science, 3 courses in Artificial Intelligence and 4 courses in Linear Systems and Optimization.  Each class includes lectures, handouts, homework assignments and a syllabus. However there is no interaction with the instructor or with classmates.

In accredited online schools and online degree programs, instructors are readily available to assist students by e-mail, by phone and even during interactive online lectures. Classmates often assist each other by responding to message boards and e-mails. This is one of the most important differences between free courses and those for which tuition is paid. Also, there is no course credit received for these free classes; although the content is identical to the courses taken by Stanford students.

Still, the free courses are a great way to access valuable information taught by highly-qualified faculty. They also introduce novice e-learners and others to distance-learning technology and the future of education.

Stanford is only one of the schools offering free courses to the public. And in schools like MIT, Harvard and Yale, free courses are spread out across several disciplines — including English, history, science, management, psychology, astronomy, computer science, philosophy, physics, political science, religion, health, architecture and more.

Anyone who desires to further their education without spending any money may do so by taking advantage of these free classes. And once they have tasted the stimulation of newly-acquired knowledge, perhaps the next short step will be to enroll in an accredited online degree or professional certificate program.

Those with a dream in their heart to return to college should not hesitate to reach out and grab this free gift!

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Posted by vida