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Free Online Course Materials from MIT

Lori Halley 29 March 2009 6 comments

Did you know that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers free online access to the materials used in almost all of its courses? 

While you won’t earn credentials from MIT or get access to its faculty through the OpenCourseWare site, it’s a remarkable resource for self-education — or as a starting point for crafting your own professional development programs for staff and volunteers, especially in the areas of management and communications.

MIT OpenCourseWare offers a variety of educational resources from lecture notes and readng lists to problem and answer sets,  videos and audio, and other features, depending on the course.

No registration, user ID, or password is needed to view these course materials online, or to download them for offline use.

Course materials may be redistributed for non-commercial purposes and without charge, on a Creative Commons Share-Alike license, as long as proper attribution is given to MIT and the course authors. (See the terms of use for details.) You may also revise and modify the materials to suit your organization’s needs. (See MIT’s case studies (PDF) to learn how others have benefited.)

Here are a few of the courses I’ve spotted that may be of particular interest to people working in non-profit organizations and associations:

  • Management Communication — communication principles, strategies, and methods to develop the writing, speaking, teamwork, and interpersonal communication skills necessary for managers;
  • Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier — see especially the lecture notes on Personal Information on the Web,  Anonymity vs. Transparency, and Profiling and Datamining Post-9/11, and the extensive reading list on Internet ethics and privacy issues;
  • People and Organizations — examines the historical context in which professionals work and the major challenges facing the management profession today, with a focus on  negotiations, teamwork and leadership;
  • Building and Leading Effective Teams — introduction to leadership, teams, and learning communities: lecture notes for an intensive one-week workshop from the Sloan School of Management;

And if none of the available courses meet your organization's requirements at the moment, you can get notification of new OCW courses, translated courses, and video/audio features by subscribing to RSS feeds to match your areas of interest.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Sunday, 29 March 2009 at 7:01 PM


  • chris holt said:

    Sunday, 29 March 2009 at 3:30 PM

    I have been following MIT's open university process for a few years now and it has really grown. My only complaint, if I could complain about such a cool thing, is the lack of standards in the offerings structure. It could be a little more organized in terms of course notes, free readings and a/v stuff. But on the whole..it'll evolve and they were leaders in this revolution to open universities in the first place so I give them huge Karma marks.

  • Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot]

    Dmitriy Buterin [Chief Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 29 March 2009 at 5:32 PM

    Just happened to be reading Lifehacker article on online learning, quite a few great links on this subject in the article.


  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Sunday, 29 March 2009 at 6:57 PM

    @Chris, agreed, that was my only quibble, too - some courses have notes, some have only reading lists, etc. I wonder if it's a question of evolution of the site, or of the different pedagogical styles of the course authors?

    @Chief Apricot, cool coincidence!

    I was thinking this morning that, just as a recession is reputed to be a good time for companies to increase their advertising, a recession may be a good time to ramp up one's professional skills with a little low-cost training, too.  

    Microsoft has quite an extensive selection of online MS Office tutorials, for example. That could be a useful investment of time, for people who haven't had a chance to master the finer points of the latest versions of office software.

  • Kristiana said:

    Monday, 30 March 2009 at 8:42 AM

    I have to admit that I have been concerned with my drastically tightened professional development budget, so it's always nice to find more high quality resources available.

    To toss out a slightly west-coast bias, Stanford also has a lot of lectures available for free on iTunesU.

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Wednesday, 01 April 2009 at 10:45 AM

    Thanks for the tip, Kristiana! For anyone who'd like to look into Stanford University's offerings, here's the link: http://itunes.stanford.edu/ Access is free -- you just need to have iTunes installed on your computer in order to download the files, and a player that can handle .mp4 AAC files.

    Let's see what other high-quality low-cost (preferably free) training materials and online courses are out there...

  • Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

    Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] said:

    Thursday, 02 April 2009 at 12:47 PM

    Open Yale Courses http://oyc.yale.edu/courselist are more academic or general interest, less practical for staff/volunteer training -- but you never know when a free Introduction to Psychology course http://oyc.yale.edu/psychology/introduction-to-psychology/content/class-sessions might come in handy!

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