Learning Medicine

Learning Medicine
The Ultimate Guide to Study Skills in Medical School

Friday, September 28, 2012

Learning Stuff Online - Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, MIT OCW and more

So Much to Learn, So Many Sources, Too Little Time

There has been a huge surge recently in open-source learning platforms on the web. It all started with Khan Academy and MIT Opencourseware a few years back, and the whole web education sphere has blown up.

I'm overwhelmed by how much good material there is now. It's not just random amateur YouTube videos. Rather, there are libraries of very high quality teaching freely available for the world made from expert teachers.

I've been checking out a lot of these sites for my own learning needs, and I thought I'd share.

1. Udemy - an online marketplace for lessons. Lots of free stuff, but they also have paid material that is high quality. It's heavy on the tech/programming and entrepreneurship material. I'm currently taking a course on Web Development. 

2. Khan Academy - the catalyst for online education. His library is huge now and the learning community is really robust. For K-12 stuff, I think this is a great source.

3. Coursera - a new entrant with a big idea. They've gotten a lot of universities to partner with them and offer tailor-made courses on a wide range of topics. How they make money,  no one knows, but this is the forerunner of the MOOC (massive online open course) world. It's worth checking out.

4. MIT Opencoursware. MIT was the first university I think to really offer their class recordings for free on the web. It didn't have everything, but they lead the way on open access. Now, many universities have followed suit and are making their recordings public. Recently, OCW has begun a more interactive program with EdX where you can collaborate with other learners and the instructors themselves. There is a computer science course starting up Oct 1. For my medical friends, a course called Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical & Public Health Research is starting up Oct 15. This could be a great opportunity to learn alongside other enthusiastic students, for free, at our leisure. And, if you so choose, there are even certificates now showing that you put your time in. I think this type of credentialing for online learning is going to be the future - employers and others will increasingly look to verification of online learning to assess the skills a prospective employee has. 

5. Udacity - don't know much about it, but it looks like they're focusing on some computer science courses. Worth checking out.

6. Codeacademy - this site has gotten a lot of press for being a good place for people to learn how to program. I haven't used it much myself but some of my friends have really enjoyed it. 

7. CK12 - just found this a few days ago. It looks like it's a really well done K-12 learning source. They have pages and custom textbooks made to teach basic high school subjects. This is a wonderful endeavor. I wish I had all this stuff in high school.

8. Floating University - found this the other day too. It's pretty much a 12 part series of "big ideas", the kind of things you learn from studying liberal arts for 4 years at college. They've got some of the leading minds in areas such as physics, medicine, economics, philosophy, and more, giving their distillation of the essential ideas in their respective fields. This is a real gem. And again, it's free! Definitely worth checking out. I started watching the video on political philosophy with my wife the other night. Rather than watch something stupid on TV, we're going to sit on the couch and watch one of these lectures each night after dinner. 

So there you go. A short list of the best places to learn anything (well, just about everything) on the web. Something that is missing is a site cataloging high quality lectures on medicine. Filling that need is something I'm working on with one of my classmates. I'll share more about that in a few weeks, but we're trying to do what Khan and others have done with K-12 to medicine. If this is something you might be interested, shoot me a line in the comments section.
If there are others that I missed, please post them in the comments, and I'll update this thread.

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