Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Rumbling You Hear

That rumbling is the sound of the shifting landscape of education. Here are 8 sites, listed in no order that are turning things over.

1. MyAlgebraBook.Com, a free and interactive online course put together by the overachieving Eric Kean, a math professor at Western Washington University. Home school students, home school teachers and private educators take note, this can save you time and money.

2. MITx - A combined effort of the MIT,  Harvard, UC Berkley and the University of Texas system to put college level courses online, for free, for anyone willing to take the time to learn subjects ranging from artificial intelligence, circuits, and solid state chemistry. While the classes are not currently transferable to a university system, independent exams are available to certify the completion and knowledge gained through the course. 

3. Udacity - Udacity operates in a similar manner, offering university level courses taught by university level educators with independent certification available following completions. 

4. MRU - Marginal Revolution University is constructed by Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrock, both part of the esteemed economic faculty of George Mason University. Their initial offering is on developmental economics, and is less lecture intensive then other offerings. They prefer smaller segments, so it is easier to work into a busy schedule. I'm most interested in this, if only because I am a huge fan of the blog these two gents run. 

5. Khan Academy - Perhaps the granddaddy of all online courses, the Khan academy offers a full range of learning materials at no charge to students and educators young and old. K-12 subject matter with quizzes to verify understanding in each subject. Anecdote,  I have seen classmates in university level calculus successfully skip greater then half of the lectures in a semester and learn their material at home with a text book and the Kahn materials. He came to the end of the class with an A.  If you look at one thing on this list, you should look at this. 

6. Mises Institute - Ludwig Von Mises Institute is the finest home of Austrian (see, good, applicable, predictive) economics in the world, with a vast array of written and recorded material available. They also do online courses from time to time, designed for High school / university level reading comprehension. 

Coursera - Coursera is similar to Udacity and MITx but is far more expansive in scope of subject matter. The caveat is that the certification is not as robust. Nevertheless, the material is university level and can sharpen a mind for zero cost with materials and courses from 33 national level universities. 

8. Udemy - Udemy is for grown up who need to learn practical skills. Office, Python, Tablet Programming, Music Theory, Operations planning. It's designed to go beyond the university and be applicable in the workplace. I see this becoming big. 

Teaching children of all ages at home has never been easier nor more informative. I find it an increasingly untenable position to support the public education of children, even on a personal level. If you care about the education and critical thinking of a child, the is the public education system only hampers their development. 

Open the tool box for your mind and you will be surprised what is available.