Yale University is making some of its most popular undergraduate courses freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet.
The project, dubbed "Open Yale Courses," presents access to the full content of a selection of college-level courses and makes them available in various formats, including downloadable and streaming video, audio only and searchable transcripts of each lecture. Syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials accompany the courses.
The production of the courses for the Internet was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The seven courses in the sciences, arts and humanities – which were recorded live as they were presented in the classroom to Yale students – will be augmented with about 30 additional Yale courses over the next several years.
"IT allows the knowledge and passion of leading Yale faculty to reach everyone who wishes to explore these subjects," says Yale president Richard Levin. "We hope students, teachers and anyone with an interest in these topics, no matter where they live or what they do, will take full advantage of these free and easily accessed courses."
Diana Kleiner, Dunham Professor of the History of Art & Classics and the director of the project, says the full content of all the courses is now readily available online and may be accessed at the users' convenience.
"We wanted everyone to be able to see and hear each lecture as if they were sitting in the classroom," Kleiner says. "It's exciting to make these thought-provoking courses available so broadly for free.
"While education is best built upon direct interactions between teachers and students, Yale believes that leading universities have much to contribute to making educational resources accessible to a wider audience. We hope this ongoing project will benefit countless people around the world."
Kleiner says the courses reflect the broad liberal arts education provided by Yale College, which encourages critical thinking, intellectual exploration and creativity. She says Yale plans for future Open Yale Courses to include music and the arts.
Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest says the availability of the Yale courses has significance far beyond the university.
"Making the talents of Yale's faculty available for free on the Internet is an important step toward the Hewlett Foundation's goal of providing access to knowledge and educational opportunities throughout the world," Brest says.