Thomas Paine, an English-American politician was one of the first proponents of free public education. Though an idea conceived in 18th century was considered too radical for its time. But finally it got its way in 20st century. 1970 saw the emergence an ‘Open Learning’, elevating the idea of free education. It was based on the principle of universal access of information to acquire interest based, self-guided, independent learning.
In order to build up on the goal of open education, UNESCO adopted and promoted the phenomena of OER (Open Education Resources). UNESCO’s conference on ‘Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education, held in 2002, defined OER as: “The open provision of educational resources, enabled by information and communication technologies, for consultation, use and adaptation by a community of users for non-commercial purposes.” OER works under the open licence model which allows the user to reuse, retain, revise, remix and redistribute the content. The most important features of OER are:
- No Technical Barriers
- No Price Barriers
- Minimum Legal Barriers
UNESCO believes that through OER, the goal of universal access to high quality education can be achieved. The key idea behind the formulation of OER is to establish peace, economic and social development and intercultural dialogue, among the nations of the world.
Many reputed universities and educational institutes came together to offer courses, degrees, certificates and credits. The authenticity and value of the online open courses remains at par with the quality of campus courses. So nothing changes in the digital learning platform, except for the bandwidth of the institutions. Besides, the open resources are not limited to higher education rather provides equal and open access to a learner of any age, grade or subject. Here is a list websites that would help you to access the empowering world of free education:
Resources for Elementary and Secondary Education:
- Librarian Chick: It comprises of books, quizzes, videos, etc.
- K-12 Tech Tools: It offers OERs, from art to special education.
- Curriki: It consists of a community of volunteers, teachers and educationalist which provides access to over 50,000 free resources.
- Khan Academy: It works on the mission of providing free, personalized, world-class education.
- Edutopia: Supported by George Lucas Educational foundation, it provides induction led learning dedicated to K-12 segment.
- Discovery Education: A subset of Discovery family, dedicated to dissemination of knowledge to wider set of audience.
- Arkive: It brings to the table a variety of engaging and informative educational games.
- Teaching Channel: It blends the curriculum with technology and provides high quality educational videos.
- Librarian’s Internet Database: It provides young learner with the access to high quality resources, including enormous range of newspapers and magazines.
- The Concord Consortium: It is a not for profit educational research and development organisation dedicated to the field of maths, science and engineering.
- Education.com: It provides in-depth knowledge of wide range of topics, along with numerous engaging activities, worksheets, assignments, etc.
- Success for All: It is a non profit organisation, which works towards sharing of knowledge with research-led educational programs.
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: It comprises of various web educators, who have come together to strengthen the knowledge base of young minds through digital media.
Resources for High Education:
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – It is the most recent advancement in the area of free online education. There are in all 560 universities by far, which are offering a great variety of programs as a part of MOOCs via following online portals:
- Future learn: It is UK’s first free open online education provider, launched in 2012. It works in association with British Library.
- Coursera: It is a US based external online education provider, which presents a wide range of 500+ courses.
- Edx: It is a not-for-profit, collaborative initiative of Harvard University and Massachusetts University of Technology.
- Udemy: It is an online higher education market place offering 35,000+ courses currently catering to over 9 million students.
- Udacity: It offers free courses categorised in three groups – beginner, intermediate and advanced level.
- World Education University: With a large pool of renowned mentors and dedicated teachers, it provides high quality academic programs for free.
- Academic Earth: Launched in 2009, it believes in delivering world class education by following the concept of open resources and free access of knowledge.
- Unizin: Formed by a syndicate of far-famed institutions to promote digital learning and teaching.
- MOOEC: It provides free online English lessons in collaborations with various universities and colleges.
- Aprentica: It is a Latin American based academic content network.
- ALISON: It is an Ireland based online academy founded in 2007 by distinctive entrepreneurs, to promote the unblocked access to academic and vocational skills.
- EduKart: It is an India based free higher education enrolment platform.
- Open Culture: It is a rich virtual resource which provides access to 1000+ MOOCs, 750 free movies, 700 free audio and e-books and much more.
Besides, collaborative resources many universities are also running MOOCs independently:
- Stanford Free Courses
- Harvard Free Courses
- MIT Free Courses
- UC Berkeley Free Courses
- UCLA Free Courses
- Yale Free Courses
- Carnegie Mellon Free Courses
- Duke Free Courses
The learning management system of the online tutorials comprise of:
- Sharing of information through videos ranging from live on campus lectures to recordings from a tutors’ office or field.
- Real time meetings and interaction with the tutor and fellow students, via webcam and microphone. You can also participate in various discussion forums, for the exchange of ideas.
- Lessons from your instructor shared in the form of PDF or word documents.
- Open access to your subject related text books, articles, research papers, blog posts, e-books and electronic journals.
- Assessment of performance through online tests and assignments. The assignments and tests are synced with proctoring tools, to retain the authenticity of the test score.
- Project submission, to be undertaken either individually or as a part of a team.
There are many verified certificate courses, which not only add to your knowledge but also to your academic profile. But the idea behind open learning is not to gain credits from ace institutes but to encourage subversive thinking to tackle the world issues in a collective manner.