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  1. OpenCourseWare continues growth

    brian on 2005.10.06
    at 02:35 am

    I’ve been lax posting here for a while. Tonight, I’ll break that.

    I am a proponent of Open Content. I’m very interested in educational technology (truth be told I’ve thought about graduate study in this field about once a week since college). Certainly, there are cases and audiences for paid content. However, education is a basic human right, and whenever possible, that type of content should be available. Education benefits everyone. If your neighbor gets smarter, you benefit.

    On this topic, MIT bust on the scene a while back with the OpenCourseWare initiative. Others have come out to offer their courses, including my neighbor, Tufts. The downside of these, however, is that the majority of the courses are pretty high-end. Great if you’re already studying one of these topics in a doctoral program. Anyone up for Introduction to Applied Nuclear Physics? Not so great for the rest of us paying a mortgage with a 40-hr a week job.

    Today I discovered the Sofia Open Content program from Foothill and DeAnza Colleges. They have freshman-level courses. Two that have caught my eye are and Introduction to Programming Java, and Physical Geography. Outstanding.

    I’m interested in Introduction to Java Programming because I hear that java is a good programming language to learn first, both for its importance and ubiquity, and for it’s C-like-ness, and many other languages, like PHP are C-like. Versus say Ruby, which is supposedly easy to learn, but not terribly applicable to other languages… since many languages are C-like.

    Unfortunately, I am unlike Jake in that I just can’t find half-written tutorials on the web and be a zen-programming-master in two weeks. I need some structure to my learning.

    The intro to Physical Geography reads as such: Physical geography is the study of the earth’s dynamic systems – its air, water, weather climate, landforms, rocks, soils, plants, ecosystems and biomes – and how humans interact with the earth’s systems.

    Since I’m a weather geek, you don’t need me to tell you why this appeals to me.

    What could be better? A course to teach me to write a weather program that takes live data from a weather station, and do something cool with it, like archive to a database and show the observations live on the web.

    Anyhow, I’m glad to report that someone is making Open Courseware content for the rest of us.

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