How To Learn From Open Resources Online


There are plenty of open resources on the Internet to allow for college-level learning on almost any topic. But diving in can be daunting.

If you want to read a textbook, answer the questions at the end of each chapter, and take a sample test, you can certainly simulate that kind of traditional classroom-based learning online, but there are many, many other possibilities.

Just as the three main “buckets” of traditional education are Content, Socialization, and Accreditation, or the “what,” the “how,” and the “why,” the world of open learning can be divided roughly into the parallel buckets of open content, social learning, and reputation-based networks.

Open content is the “what.” Content means textbooks, video and audio lectures, lessons, problem sets, and sample tests and quizzes. The most common form of open content that you have probably turned to for a quick definition or overview of a topic is Wikipedia. Open content, or open educational resources, are found on websites like MIT’s Open Courseware, The Open Courseware Consortium, the Open Learning Initiative, Khan Academy, Open Yale Courses, iTunes U, Academic Earth,, Scribd, Slideshare, Textbookrevolution, Wikiversity, and many more. In a bricks-and-mortar university, Open Content is the equivalent of the lecture hall and the library.

Open social learning happens on sites like P2PU, OpenLearn, OpenStudy, Wikianswers, Quora, Urch, and even Twitter. These are places where you can ask or answer a complex technical question, form or join a book group, or get help studying for the SATs. These sites can be the equivalent of the pizza and study group, the tutoring center, or the seminar…

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