1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email
Richard Nordquist

Back to School—for Free

By August 19, 2011

Follow me on:

How's this for a bargain? Regardless of your age, location, or educational background, you can participate--at no cost--in any of the 2,000 courses offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the most highly regarded research universities in the U.S.

Since its launch in 2002, MIT's OpenCourseWare (OCW) project has shared course materials with well over 50 million visitors--students, educators, and independent learners. Among the offerings are dozens of courses (both undergraduate and graduate) in writing, rhetoric, and linguistics.

There are disclaimers, of course. OCW doesn't grant degrees, and the materials posted online don't always reflect the full content of a course. (For instance, you'll probably need to buy a textbook, and you'll miss out on class discussions and labs.) But the OpenCourseWare site contains some rich academic resources--syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, and study questions--prepared by MIT faculty under an open license that lets users download and modify the materials for noncommercial use.

More good news. The success of OCW at MIT has inspired 200 other universities in 30 countries to share their course materials through the OpenCourseWare Consortium, where over 8,000 courses are now available--all at no cost.

Here's a small sample of what you'll find at the OpenCourseWare Consortium.

  • What Is Good Writing? (The Open University)
    This unit will help you to develop the basic skills and confidence required for writing by explaining what is involved in good writing and why it is so important.

  • Exploring the English Language (The Open University)
    How has the English language changed over the course of the last 500 years? What are the social and political contexts that have affected how these changes have come about? This unit will consider the development of the English language from the 15th to the 19th century.

  • English Grammar in Context (The Open University)
    In this unit you will develop knowledge and understanding of the differences between spoken and written English, factors that influence our use of grammar and vocabulary in speech and writing, and different ways in which grammar has been described.

  • Writing and Reading the Essay (MIT)
    This is a course focused on the literary genre of the essay, that wide-ranging, elastic, and currently very popular form that attracts not only nonfiction writers but also fiction writers, poets, scientists, physicians, and others to write in the form, and readers of every stripe to read it.

  • Technical Writing (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
    Analyze complex communication situations and design appropriate responses through tasks that involve problem solving, rhetorical theory, document design, oral presentations, writing teams, audience awareness, ethical considerations, and gender equity issues.

  • Language and Mind (MIT)
    This course will address some fundamental questions regarding human language: (1) how language is represented in our minds; (2) how language is acquired by children; (3) how language is processed by adults; (4) the relationship between language and thought; (5) exploring how language is represented and processed using brain imaging methods; and (6) computational modeling of human language acquisition and processing.

  • Rhetoric (MIT)
    This course is an introduction to the theory, the practice, and the implications (both social and ethical) of rhetoric, the art and craft of persuasion.

More Free Online Resources:
Online Resources for Writers (Summer 2011)


August 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm
(1) Gossy Ukanwoke says:

Thanks for the link back to Students Circle Network.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.