MIT is Calling All Autodidacts

Teach Yourself OnlineMIT leads the revolution in free learning

By Erica Bailey 

With the advent of modern technology, autodidacts are getting access to knowledge – and not just from your average university – via the Internet. Although these college courses won’t make you a rocket scientist or grant you a degree, those with a lust for learning now have access to some of the best professors at several of the nation’s leading universities – and it’s all free.

Leading the way is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). For five years, MIT has been offering course materials for nearly all of its classes online through a project it calls OpenCourseWare.

In the fall of 2002, MIT introduced complete online video lectures for some of its classes. Today, there are 30 lectures available through video or audio. Anne Margulies, executive director of the OpenCourseWare project, said the program intends to add two or three complete video lecture series each semester. The popularity of the program is growing, she said, and it’s “just the beginning . . . (as) more universities will open up to video lectures.”   

In fact, a number of universities around the world already are emulating the OpenCourseWare concept. A list can be found on MIT’s OpenCourseWare Web site at
Yale also is preparing to offer video classes with complete course information. Seven courses, covering topics such as political science, psychology, the Old Testament, astrophysics, physics and modern poetry, are scheduled to be available for the fall of 2007 and will be accessible through Yale’s main Web site, 

Other U.S. schools offering OpenCourseWare classes are the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health (, Tufts University (, Utah State University ( and the University of Washington (