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The Ultimate Guide to Using Open Courseware: 70+ Apps, Search Engines and Resources for Free Learning - College

The Ultimate Guide to Using Open Courseware: 70+ Apps, Search Engines and Resources for Free Learning

While you can't get college credit for taking open courseware classes, you can make the most of the information and education they offer both in personal and professional aspects of your life. After all, even if you're not working towards a degree, taking the same courses as those in the ivy league can't possibly hurt you and may even be able to better keep you informed and on the cutting edge of what's going on in your field. So how can you make the most of these free online courses? Here are resources we've collected that can help you search for classes, find information and learn everything you need to know about how open courseware works.

Search Engines and Directories

Check out these sites for finding courses and materials you're interested in.

  1. A World of Ideas: Give this site a look for catalogues of both audio and video lectures from universities and radio stations on a wide range of topics.
  2. Open CourseWare Finder: Type in the genre or subject matter of courses you're interested in and you can find loads of links to courses from all over on this search site.
  3. OpenContentOnline: Browse courseware by subject on this directory site containing links to courses on everything from artificial intelligence to literature.
  4. OpenCourseWareConsortium: This site provides a portal to search through hundreds of free courses or to add new courses you know about to the database.
  5. iBerry: Check out this site for a huge directory of open courseware organized by school and subject matter that can point you in the right direction for any type of learning.

Open Courseware Collections

There are hundreds of classes offered entirely for free from universities and educational institutions all over the world. Here are a few places where you can start looking to find free courses that suit your personal interests and needs.

  1. MIT OpenCourseware: The pioneer of open courseware and perhaps the most popular site for free educational resources, MIT offers courses in a huge range of subjects. Get course materials on everything from aerospace to art history.
  2. Columbia University Interactive: Explore interactive learning resources at Columbia University including e-seminars, class websites, simulations and more.
  3. Open University: The Open University offers this Learning Space as a way to give access to course materials in math, law, languages and a variety of other subjects.
  4. Tufts University: Visitors to this site will find life sciences-centered course materials from Tufts' schools of medicine, arts and sciences, nutrition science and several other divisions.
  5. University of Notre Dame: You'll get access to the materials for a large variety of courses taught at Notre Dame University through this Web portal.
  6. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative: Carnegie Mellon University offers this site full of "intelligent tutoring systems, virtual laboratories, simulations, and frequent opportunities for assessment and feedback" to help you learn.
  7. Berklee Shares: This site provides a large number of free music courses that can enable you to learn several instruments, music arranging, improvisation and production.
  8. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Those interested in the medical field can read and learn from materials offered by Johns Hopkins in the fields of HIV/AIDS, mental health, genetics, population science and much more.
  9. Harvard Extension School: Harvard is one of the most prestigious colleges in the nation, and you can watch video lectures and read and learn from course materials found on this site.
  10. Utah State University: Check out this site for courseware that ranges from classes in anthropology and history to physics and economics, plus much more.
  11. United Nations University: This global learning site offers news, information and resources on conservation and peace keeping projects as well as open courseware in fields like biodiversity, water resource management, fisheries and more.
  12. University of California, Irvine: This California college offers courses that range from high school completion to spa operations.
  13. Greshem College: Find audio and video, lectures and events and more on this London-based college's site.
  14. University of Washington: Here you'll find open courseware materials that you can take for fun in the humanities, communication, psychology and many other fields.
  15. Duke Law Center for the Public Domain: Browse through lectures on a wide range of subjects related to law in the modern world.


What easier way to learn than by listening to lectures, books and speakers on your MP3 player while you're driving to work, running errands or working out at the gym? Explore the information these resources have to offer.

  1. Classics Podcasts: Haverford College offers students and the public alike this podcasting resource, which allows anyone to listen to ancient texts to be heard in Latin. The site also features podcasts of modern news and views delivered in Latin as well.
  2. Berkeley on iTunes: This resource from the Calfornia-based college offers anyone the chance to listen to lectures, find out about events at the school and get connected with what's going on at the school at any time.
  3. Cambridge University Podcasts: Podcasts on this site consist of lectures from esteemed faculty and scholars, content from museums and college departments, and even a few specific subjects within the school. In addition, visitors will find audio and video recordings, CamTV and a variety of course materials.
  4. Western Kentucky University: Called "HyperManyMedia" this site offers visitors the chance to listen to podcasts directly taken from or related to courses being taught at WKU. Current offerings include Introduction to Literature and Western Civilization.
  5. Harvard Business Online: This site was created to offer Harvard students and the general public access to ideas and commentary from the leaders in the business world -- in podcast form.
  6. Princeton University Channel: You'll find podcasts that cover a range of topics through this Princeton site but mainly focus on political and social issues in lectures, panels and events with academics from all corners of the globe.
  7. Stanford on iTunes: Stanford is now offering podcast downloads from iTunes that will let you listen to faculty lectures, course materials, interviews, and even get sports and entertainment information.
  8. Yale University Podcasts: Check out this site for podcasts from Yale that cover topics like art and architecture, international affairs, health and medicine and more.
  9. Johns Hopkins Podcasts: Listen to lectures and discussions about subjects like "China Rising", "Countering a Nuclear Threat" and "Medical Horizons".
  10. Boston College Front Row: Visit this site to get recordings and videos of discussions held at scholarly events hosted by Boston College.


Check out these sites for free videos of lectures, workshops, meetings and conferences that can help you learn without spending a dime.

  1. CalTech Today: CalTech has created a streaming theater that allows you to easily view videos on issues in science, technology and culture.
  2. UCLA Webcasts: With these archived videos you'll be able to keep up with interesting events happening on UCLA's campus and watch academic meetings, lectures and more.
  3. University of California TV Video on Demand: Check out videos on agriculture, public affairs, the arts and several other topics on this great site designed to make learning for students and the public easy and interesting.
  4. Butte College: Butte College provides televised recordings of some of the classes it offers, and you can see them here whether you're in the class and trying to make up for a skipped day or just want to learn about something new.
  5. Duke University Multimedia: Those interested in learning more about math can check out these videos, developed by Duke University's math department.
  6. Free Documentaries: Get excited about politics by viewing one of the numerous free political films found on this site.
  7. Nobel Prize Lectures: Here you can learn the history behind many Nobel Laureates and even hear some of them read their work and give lectures and speeches.
  8. Webcast Berkeley: Listen to podcasts and videos from this site that gives you access to materials and events from Berkeley.
  9. CERN Webcast Service: The European Center for Nuclear Research provides access to videos and other resources that discuss science and energy-related concerns.
  10. The Royal Society: This site provides access to a large number of webcasts. You'll be able to find videos on everything from physics and mathematics to climate and the environment.


Whether you need texts for your online courses or just to entertain and educate yourself, check out these sites which are full of free and informative reading material.

  1. eMedicine: Nearly everything the medical student or aspiring medical student could want to look up can be found in this huge online medical text.
  2. FreeTechBooks: The best resource for free tech related textbooks and guides, this site provides access to numerous computer science and programming resources.
  3. Project Gutenberg: Read the classics for free online with scans and digitalization of numerous public domain works on this site.
  4. Perseus Digital Library: Tufts University maintains this online archive of hundreds of ancient Greek and Roman texts, as well as an ever expanding amount of other resources.
  5. Text Archive: The Internet Archive has compiled this directory of open source texts that you can access for free over the internet.
  6. World Public Library: Check out the public domain ebook and edocument repository provided by this site.
  7. Many Books: This site can be a great place to find learning materials to use on your PDA, iPod or ebook reader. Titles are by both well-known and lesser known authors.
  8. Electronic Text Center: The University of Virginia maintains this online resource which contains tens of thousands of digital texts for you to use and access for free.
  9. Authorama: Is the book you need to take an online course old enough to be in the public domain? If so, check out this site for free access to the text.
  10. Oxford Text Archive: You can download and use the texts on this site for free. They come in a variety of formats and primarily cover topics related to literature and the arts.
  11. Textbook Revolution: This site provides hundreds of free texts, books and educational materials that you can use to learn for free.

Educational TV

Many networks, websites and organizations provide broadcasts on a wide variety of topics that can help educate you or serve as great supplements to existing course materials. If you missed it on TV, check it out on these sites.

  1. Biography: Learn about the lives of everyone from modern celebrities to important figures in history through the interviews and videos provided by this channel's site.
  2. Discovery: Discovery owns several networks including Animal Planet, Discovery Health, TLC and more. On their site you'll find videos from recent programs, background information, and even special materials for teaching and learning.
  3. PBS: On the Public Broadcasting Service's websites you'll find clips of the shows they air, information, news and more to help you learn more about literature, science and the world around you.
  4. BBC Learning: Whether you want to learn a new language, explore history or brush up on your math, you'll find hundreds of lessons, resources and tools to help you do so on this BBC-based learning portal.
  5. Book TV: Book TV is part of the C-Span 2 network. This site lets you watch recent interviews with authors and experts in literature, get suggestions on what books to read, and find out the latest news about literature around the world.
  6. TVO: Visitors to this site can take advantage of videos and podcasts from Canada's largest educational broadcaster, TVO. The site also has partnerships with the Independent Learning Center which offers a number of distance learning courses.
  7. Research Channel: You'll have access to webcasts, videos and other materials from researchers, speakers and notable thinkers from around the world through the resources on this site.
  8. NOVA: This PBS program is well-known and regarded for its programs on the latest in scientific research. On the website you can watch recent episodes and find links to more information on the Web.
  9. National Geographic Education: Find interesting articles, videos and special educational programs through National Geographic's site.
  10. American Field Guide: If learning about the natural flora and fauna that call America home is more your area of interest, then this site is a must for your online education. It contains thousands of clips designed to give you insight into all the ecosystems that make up our natural world.

Resources, Articles and Guides

These sites can give you the information and understanding of open courseware you need in order to make decisions about what programs, courses and universities will work best for you.

  1. What Is Open CourseWare?: Get the basics on courseware from this article and ensure you know the story behind free online courses.
  2. Open CourseWare Movement Grows Across Planet: Read here about how open courseware is changing education everywhere in the world.
  3. A Free, Green Education: Learning online not only saves paper and gas but can also educate you on many ecological issues. Check out this site for recommendations on open courseware that can help you learn to be greener.
  4. Video Education: Free Online Learning Resources Mini-Guide: Here you'll get a guide to finding open courseware that's in video form.
  5. Public Access to Education: Open CourseWare: Read commentary and opinions on open courseware from this blog's post.
  6. How Stuff Works: MIT Open CourseWare In Action: Get some insight into how open courseware may affect your career and education through this practical article.
  7. The Stingy Scholar: Check out this blog to get ideas on how to save money on education through open courseware and a variety of free online resources.
  8. Self-Made Scholar: This blog is full of ways you can work to educate yourself, including articles on open courseware.
  9. Business Education Is Now Free With Open CourseWare: Learn how you can get education and insight into the workings of the business world through the suggestions in this article.
  10. Open Teaching, Learning and Certification: This blog focuses on how open courseware and other open education programs can help and improve education and teaching.
  11. Blog: Here you'll find posts that are dedicated to free educational resources like open courseware.

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