I’ve never been to Yale or any of the Ivy League institutions but spent the past weekend attending their lectures from the comfort of home.
The lessons from philosophy to physics are taught by scholars and scientists and recorded as they were delivered to Yale students. Each course provides the selected reading material, past exam questions and answers, and lecture transcripts.
There are no pre-qualifications and no registration needed. On top of that, there are no fixed schedules to follow and all courses are FREE and available to anyone in the world who has access to the internet.
For that, we have to thank – not the universities but Sir Tim Berners-Lee for giving us the World World Web and making our lives so interconnected that we can’t live without his invention. TimBL is a boomer who was knighted by the good old Queen and aptly recognized as the inventor of WWW at the 2012 Olympics when he tweeted these simple yet magnanimous words –
“ This is for EVERYONE ”
What a powerful statement!
A long time ago, I met a wise man who told me that you can bring a horse to water but can’t force it to drink. But if a horse is so very thirsty, he will find water somehow even if you lead it the wrong way. In other words, if you are not interested to learn, you won’t learn anything no matter how people try to teach. But if you are keen to learn, you will find a way to gain knowledge even if people around you will not teach.
You may say this is nothing new but I was still in primary school then so those words were insanely profound to me. I digress here but still on the subject of learning and acquisition of knowledge, the key message is ‘you can’t keep knowledge from people who want to learn’.
Yale is not the only university taking this step to make selected lectures available for everyone. Berkeley, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge and many more are joining in to expand their campuses online.
Why are they doing this?
One practical reason is for the university to raise its profile, its lecturers and their academic work. Universities that offer free online courses are doing out of choice or, out of no-choice. It’s one of those things that you can’t ignore if the rest of the industry thinks it’s a good idea to adopt.
Prior to online courses, computer-based training was the only self-paced learning tool but they were expensive to produce and distribute due to licensing issues. Internet as the primary technology and infrastructure enabler changes how things can be done easily, effectively and economically.
Now that knowledge is available everywhere and accessible to anyone, life-long learning becomes a reality for many people around the world without even having to leave home.
We can drop in and get out of a lecture anytime, go through a lecture as many times as we want, choose what we want to learn, and the best part is we don’t have to spend our retirement savings on any of these courses.
Sounds like a dream school? Yes, only at Yale…and Princeton … and anywhere do you want to go today. Enjoy your learning journey anytime anywhere. JY