Yale to post free videos of lectures online

Through a new initiative, the Open Educational Video Lecture Project, Yale intends to make it possible for anyone to have the classroom experience by simply using the Internet. This service will be available for free.

Through a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, complete courses, including actual classroom lectures, will be accessible online for free universal access.

Several schools have put course materials online for anyone to use at no cost, but Yale plans to record lectures in a digital video format so that users can have the experience of being in a classroom and observing a professor teach.

During the 2006-2007 school year, seven undergraduate courses in liberal arts disciplines including physics, psychology, and English, will produce videos of all class lectures.

The lectures will become available on a web site in the fall of 2007. They will be accompanied with text transcriptions in several languages, syllabi, and other materials pertaining to the course, and users will not be required to enroll or register for the services.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a similar web-based service, OpenCourseWare, which is accessed daily by thousands of people from around the world. Through OpenCourseWare, current MIT students can access materials to assist them in self-learning and studying, and the same materials are available for free on the Internet.

However, MIT’s program is limited to course materials such as syllabi, PowerPoint presentations, and problem sets.

“Sometimes professors only put a syllabus of texts,” said Moneer Helu, a senior Mechanical Engineering major at MIT who uses OpenCourseWare regularly.

“If you lack a lecture format or a textbook, then it’s hard to learn if you teach it to yourself.”

Helu uses OpenCourseWare for online texts and study questions to aid him with problem sets. Some professors put exams from previous semesters online to help students prepare.

Yale has had online forums for many of their courses before, where professors would upload PowerPoints of their lectures, but this was primarily used only by current students. The Video Lecture Project, directed by Diana E. E. Kleiner, improves on the previous programs of both schools by integrating the classroom experience with course materials for the public.

“I think it is a very good thing for the public to have access,” said Jared Levant, a 2006 Yale graduate with a degree in Economics and Mathematics and in Political Science.

Levant is currently teaching high school geometry for a year and plans to attend a graduate program in finance and investment. He intends to use the Yale video lecture project and MIT’s OpenCourseWare to refresh his knowledge and further his learning.

“I would definitely use the video resources in a future academic endeavor such as graduate school or research for on the job,” Levant said. “I would definitely use it for going back to get an MBA or Juris Doctor.”

The university’s goal is to offer several dozen undergraduate courses over the next few years, and continue to use the Internet to publicly share educational material and information.

Helu is excited about Yale’s improvement on the educational resource.

“By putting video lectures online, you can achieve the ultimate aim of an OpenCourseWare program,” he said. “That is, to help people get access to a top-tier education who wouldn’t be able to receive it otherwise.”

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