What can you learn for free

I’m all in favor of self-educating – most of my genetics I learned on my own. So I was interested to see what you can really learn from free online sources like MIT Open Courseware, in an article by Josh Dean, “How Much Can You Really Learn With a Free Online Education?”

I got that long-dormant lost-in-class feeling that triggers notebook doodles and clock watching, and I started to dread "going." And so, in a departure lounge at Miami International Airport, around the time Lewin said, "We now come to a much more difficult part, and that is multiplication of vectors," I decided to drop the class.

I wonder what the internal impact of the program is – what difference does it make when you’re enrolled in a course, to have all the lectures of the course (albeit, from a past semester) online? Personally, I don’t like doing the same thing in my courses every time I teach them. If I had an online lecture set, I’d probably expect students to listen to those in their free time, and add a bunch of additional content to my lectures.

"You know where we're heading with this," says Shigeru Miyagawa, who believes that OCW has enriched current students and faculty, enhanced MIT's reputation as an institution at the forefront of innovation, and provided an invaluable opportunity to show off its smarts to those prospective geniuses that top schools fight for. "You can already see it. You" -- here he means an institution -- "can't afford not to do OCW. I foresee that in five years, all major institutions will be opening courses to let the world see what they do. It's a no-brainer, right?"

Well, there is a downside. MIT doesn’t offer human evolution.