As it so happens, someone very recently brought to my attention a site called www.udacity.com, which announces itself as simple and as clearly as can be:
Free online university classes for everyone.
It’s a phenominally exciting initiative, second only to the Khan Academy, if you ask me:
The idea: great video lectures plus exercises to let anyone with (good) internet access learn some major topic really well. You have to be fluent in English, evidently, but apart from that the courses seem to be designed to give the broadest possible group of people access to this new form of – literally! – world-class education.
These guys are serious. With a pool of well-known researchers and teachers and set up to scale massively (the class on Artificial Intelligence which led to all this had over 160,000 people signed up).
The format is slightly different from the Khan Academy in that the courses start on a fixed date and have a fixed duration. So you really have to “sign up” for class if you want to benefit from what they have to offer.
As it so happens, these classes start tomorrow, Monday, April 16th and they will last for 7 weeks.
It looks like there will be a bunch of videos each week, plus some homework assignments, which you can then follow whenever you have time that week. You can enroll in multiple courses, but I’m sure they will be repeated at a later date, so it’s probably best to just pick what feels like a good match right now.
What can I say? IMO, this is a unique chance to learn about modern software programming on many levels. Whether you’ve never built any software or whether you are curious about how some really sophisticated problems can be solved, these six courses cover a breathtaking range of topics.
I don’t know how these courses will turn out, but I do know about some of the names involved, and frankly, I’d have loved to have this sort of access when starting out in programming.
FWIW, out of curiosity, I’ve signed up for CS101. What a nice birthday present.
There has never been a better time to learn than now. This world will never be the same again.