I have never let my schooling interfere with my education ~ Mark Twain
It’s clear our education system isn’t working.
We’ve been trained to pass the tests. We’ve been trained to cram loads of information. But who usually remembers what they’ve learnt after school? It is useful learning?
I certainly believe there is a place for schools in our society. In fact I work in the education system in developing countries. In addition to core subjects many children across these countries are taught invaluable life skills essential to being independent (see example here). Its nowhere near perfect (there is a constant lack of resources, good teachers and IT equipment amongst other issues, thrown into a pot of poverty), but there is constant experimentation and studies to determine the best way to learn. Our current system needs to change. Our world has changed so vastly in the last 50 years that it doesn’t make sense to still have the same structure (check out this video). Children are coming out of school as products of a system that creates corporate robots. School has seemingly become a place where our brainwashing to conform and blend in with society begins. We become afraid to make mistakes so we do everything to avoid failure, including never realising our ideas and passions. We don’t speak out or stand up. We lose innovation skills and creativity. We’re afraid to think outside of boundaries. We’re no longer curious about how things work.
Art, music, languages and the likes aren’t considered “real” subjects. Is anyone taught any real life applicable lessons like completing your tax returns, sewing buttons back on, cooking, budgeting and business skills? Are you encouraged to develop your passions and pursue further learning and attention to whatever they may be? It doesn’t get much better at university. Sure I’ve learnt a little bit from my studies but not much has stuck…or been useful. What university has taught me well is how to memorise. I’ve sat countless law exams where you need to memorise 100+ cases to do really well. What does that teach us? Surely it would be better to provide the cases and see how I apply them to the relevant areas of law against the hypothetical situation being judged? I’ve been in mathematical and financial exams where no formulas were provided and many people fail simply because they cannot remember them. Had they been there, they could have been applied and their true knowledge tested. Isn’t that what the purpose of these exams is? At the moment we are simply memorising machines who generally forget the information as soon as we walk out of the exam door (if we even remembered it prior to going in!).
So whilst the schooling system begins the process (hopefully) of undergoing significant and important changes, below are a list of the best resources you can use to further your own learning! The list includes all forms of free learning in videos, textbooks, lectures, notes and online courses. The internet is filled with sources of open learning nowadays. Unfortunately some of these are of very low standards so this list aims to encapsulate the quality resources available to you for your personal growth and learning adventure. Choose what you love, do a course you’ve never heard of or explore an area your partner is a whizz at just so you can shock them with your newfound knowledge! Initiate interesting conversations and debate. Develop your brain. Be curious, be fascinated, be intrigued.
Learning doesn’t end in the classroom. The day you stop learning, you’ve stopped living. I have a very good friend (read his ongoing journey cycling around the world with his family here) who encourages everybody to study at the ‘University of Life’. You never, ever stop learning at this University. The real world is a remarkable place of education!
For a couple of excellent talks on our education system watch Sir Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra on TED.
Have I missed any you feel should be on the list? Leave your comment below and let the world know!
- iTunes U - has thousands of lectures and podcasts from speakers and universities all over the world. Try Big Ideas, Philosophy Bites & SALT Seminars to start your exploring!
- Do Lectures - inspiring talks from people who are changing the world is the Do Lectures slogan. Enough reason to begin watching!
- Quite Interesting - Hosted by Stephen Fry this is a fascinating TV series about anything interesting! Buy the episodes here, read the new book here and check out the online site for Quibbles and learn ‘quite interesting’ tidbits to your hearts content!
- TED - unbelievable speakers, intriguing ideas and thoughtful discussions. This is definitely a place for ‘Ideas worth Spreading’. Check out 10 Inspiring TED Talks to begin your journey!
- Peer 2 Peer - groups and courses created by members of the p2p community (you can begin your own!) to complete tasks on a particular topic with group feedback!
- MIT OpenCourseWare - lecture notes, videos, assignment and exams from MIT content across 2,100 courses!
- Saylor - college level courses with certificates from Art History to Chemistry and Psychology…and it’s free!
- Quora - question and answering platform for professional topics.
- StackExchange - a network of 85 question and answer sites with 2 million users. Ask away!
- ALISON - over 400 free courses and certification are available across numerous categories!
- UC Irvine OpenCourseWare - a Californian university providing their content online!
- Connexions - education material released as modules as an initiative of the Rice University.
- Open Yale Courses - Yale lectures in every subject with suggested readings, exams and problems. Very well organised.
- Academic Earth - online classes across a broad range of topics from top scholars with courses from Physic to Greek history.
- Blackboard – collaborating, connecting, learning…the possibilities for self improvement are endless!
- Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative - online free courses from another University across a broad range of subjects!
- Google Scholar - one easy place to search for scholarly literature for whatever you’re interested in!
- YouTube EDU - educational videos from primary school to university to beyond the walls of schools. An incredible collection of material!
- OpenCourseWare Consortium - a collaboration of higher educational institutions come together to provide you quality courses…for free of course!
- OpenLearn - over 600 free courses complete with activities and unique skills courses (such as neighbourhood nature).
- Video Lectures - with over 15,000 videos there are endless hours of learning in video style lectures here!
- Boston College Front Row - videos from lecturers across a wide range of subjects.
- Wikiversity - open learning run in multiple languages Learn absolutely everything, get daily small lessons and explore over 18,000 resources!
- United Nations University OpenCourseWare - a developing area with course material on a number of areas relevant to the UN.
- Udemy - Courses on just about anything! Take and build online courses on any subject.
- Big Think - Numerous posts and videos from Arts to Truth & Justice from the worlds big thinkers!
- 99 Percent - “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. This site focuses on what happens after the inspiration!
- Coursera – interesting courses from top universities (including Penn & Stanford), free online for you!
- Textbook Revolution - like Bookboon, another resource proving free core subject text books.
- Bookboon Free Business eBooks - written by experts from personal development to accounting, finance, management and strategic marketing
- Financial Management Training Center - courses and exams in finance.
- MIT Sloan School of Management - lecture notes, exams, projects, study groups…it’s all here from a leading business school!
- My Own Business, Inc. - start your own business, or build your own businesses courses with a certificate provided upon completion.
- The Foundation for Economic Education - lessons in economics.
- Small Business Administration – covers business courses in starting, managing, financing and contracting in business.
- The Ludwig von Mises Institute - free literature, video, encyclopaedia and a blog and the academy of online learning in liberty studies.
- The Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA Program – it won’t result in a MBA but you will learn about non profit management.
- London School of Business & Finance Global MBA – join their Facebook page to get all the content from the MBA!
- Small Biz Bee – check out this site for references to free courses listed under strategy, small business, marketing, financing, communication and leadership!
Technology, Engineering & Design
- Google Code University - the content of computer science degrees!
- Stanford Engineering Everywhere - syllabus, handouts, networking, homework and exams with course content on computer science, artificial intelligence, linear systems and even iPhone application programming delivered via video!
- TU Delft OpenCourseWare - comprehensive engineering science courses from the Netherlands (delivered in English)..
- Codeacademy - simply the easiest way to learn code!
- Pop!Tech - bringing together innovators from all fields to inspire change, asking proactive questions, sharing ideas and come up with real solutions from unique experts!
- GEL Conference - videos from GEL conferences and events from speakers similar to TED.
- Open Art Lab - IT design lesson videos from a professor of Digital Media at the University of North Carolina
- Udacity - no lectures to be found here! You learn by finding solution to challenging problems or taking a class!
- VideoLectures (Computer Science) - keynotes, events, lectures, interviews…search the tags and be fascinated!
- Dream.In.Code Tutorials - community learning from all the program languages you could want.
- Free Computer Books - the name says it all!
- W3Schools - learn how to make a website from scratch. All the information you need is here in a simple format.
- Northern Arizona University – computer maintenance and repair courses.
- Typing Web – learn to type, play typing games, or become an expert!
- University of Notre Dame - various courses here but have a look at the new Applied Multimedia course.
- Planet Photoshop – 100′s of tutorials on design techniques like the Hollywood Smoke Effect!
- Patrick JMT - hundreds of math tutorials broken down by sub topic. The perfect place to learn maths or support your studies!
- Wolframalpha - a knowledge database of immense proportions. Enter your calculation or topic or search hundreds of subjects!
- Khan Academy - the very popular site with over 3,200 videos from arithmetics to physics! You will be sure to find your answers here.
- UMass Boston Mathematics - a developing area with courses currently in calculus
- Oxford University Mathematics - diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate course content.
- Intute Mathematics - Intute closed in 2011 but it still houses a significant collection of relevant archives in relation to all things maths!
- Free-Ed College Mathematics - college courses in all sup-tobics of required mathematics!
- Math Forum @ Drexel University - problems, puzzles, help, blog and resources from teachers, students and math magicians!
- Math Guru – extensive high school mathematics broken down by math concept. An excellent resource.
- Graphing Calculator - the calculator you need to draw your graphs and find the answers to all your plotting questions!
Science & Health
- Berkeley - online video and content for all their courses! Another wonderful University easy to use open courseware site.
- HowStuffWorks Science - self explanatory!
- Tufts – specialising in science schools (medicine, nutrition, veterinary studies, art science) there are numerous online courses for you to participate in!
- Harvard Medical School Open Courseware - a listing of content from all Harvard’s units in medicine.
- Johns Hopkins OpenCourseWare - provides content from the School of Public Health’s most popular courses.
- Science Buddies – science fair projects, ideas, answers and resources for students, parents and teachers alike!
- Learners TV – numerous videos, lecture notes, animations and medical tests in this one location.
- University of Michigan Health – an interactive course with certification on public health disparities
- Global eLearning Centre – run by USAID this learning area provides courses on numerous topics related to sustainable and key public health topics such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, data analysis and monitoring & evaluation amongst many others!
- Earth Science Australia – covering a broad spectrum of topics on geology.
- BBC Languages - comprehensive learning with videos, audio, activities, tests and a whole lot of extras!
- Livemocha - active courses including role playing and writing. Choose one (or more!) of 38 languages.
- Learn10 - A brilliantly effective way to learn a new language! A web gadget for 10 new words every day!
- Lingo Pass - practice speaking your new found language in discussions.
- One Minute Languages - free materials to download to your iPod, mp3 player or computer!
- American Sign Language Browser - choose a word and watch the action!
- Auslan Sign Bank – the language of the deaf in Australia complete online dictionary and finger spelling.
- Internet Polyglot – languages lessons with flashcards, games, lists and lessons to help you memorise your new language.
- Fluent in 3 Months – a brilliant blog by Benny the traveller with loads of posts on learning languages, language hacks, tips, hints, tricks and reviews!
- Drawspace – learn to draw; basics to advanced!
- Improv Everywhere - watch the missions in public scenes of chaos and joy!
- Digital Photography School – join the over 500k strong community with Darren Rowse at DPS for everything photography!
- Interactive Art School – mini oil painting tutorials.
- Minnesota University – Philosophy and the Arts courses!
- University of Korea – lecture notes in Fashion and Popular Culture.
- Open Washington – a course on ‘Shakespeare’s Comedies’.
- Harvard Law – essays, broadcasts, videos and entries on current law events.
- Biography – hundreds of biographies of famous members in our society.
- University of Washington’s OpenUW - a small set of courses covering the American Civil War, Revolution, History of Jazz & World War 2.
- HyperHistory - over 3,000 files covering 3,000 years of history.
- US Department of Interior - a detailed course on managing archaeological collections.
- Moodle Commons – a course on political philosophy.
- University of Chicago – on Aristotle & Ethics.
- Harvard Law School - lectures, videos, essays and posts about current law events and topics.
- Lewis & Clark Law School - podcasts on interesting law topics.
- Bailii – an incredibly comprehensive law resource on British and Irish case law & legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related material.
- Centre for the Study of the Public Domain – lessons focusing mainly on intellectual property rights, to contemporary literature on the operation of common property regimes.
- Law Cite – over 4 million indexed cases, law reform documents and journal articles
English & Communications
- Lifewriting - an intensive 9 week writing class given by a UCLA professor
- Guide to Grammar and Writing - a guide through words, sentences, paragraphs, essays and research papers!
- Purdue Online Writing Lab- writing resources and material for students, tutors and teachers at any skill level.
- NewsU - a host of interesting courses (such as Advanced Twitter for Journalism or Covering Islam in America) brought to you by the Poynter News University.
- Project Gutenberg – over 39,000 free eBooks to download or read online
- Etymonline - Etymologies are not definitions; they’re explanations of what our words meant and how they sounded originally. Have fun researching the hundreds of you use on a daily basis to see where they come from!
- Library Spot Grammar - a site that links to countless resources about everything English!
- Children’s Digital Library - A non profit that provides children’s books in multiple languages for access across the globe regardless of location!
- The Open University – Start Writing Fiction is one of their most popular courses. 12 hours of learning packed in this one module!