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A Little Educational Anarchy at MIT

One of the most interesting aspects of the early Internet days - Web 1.0, in today's terminology - was the spirit of freedom that ruled the online culture.�� The notion of selling services did not come easily to the Internet, where traditionally what you found online was free to use.

Open source software and software modifications could be found scattered across the landscape, as could databases of formerly unavailable material.�� Perhaps the best example of this online anarchy is Linux, an open source operating system that was posted online by their Finnish authors, available to any and all who wished to use it, modify it, upgrade it - and eventually, as it came to pass, sell it.�� An example of the Web 1.0 culture at its finest can be found on a couple of servers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a reputation as: a) one of the finest schools in the nation, particularly in the physical sciences, and b) a place where the uniformly brilliant undergraduates occasionally pull off-the-wall stunts.�� The spirit of anarchy can run high among new generations of physicists, technology innovators and future Nobel winners.

Some of that other-worldly exuberance is exemplified at the MIT Open Courseware site.�� Here the spirit of no-cost online access is maintained at a remarkable level, extreme even by MIT standards.�� The course materials for all 1900 classes offered at MIT are available at no cost to anyone who cares to download the material.�� Free lecture notes, videos of lectures and other relevant material, even exams are provided at no charge, no school registration required.�� You will have to invest in the textbooks, and possibly in some software to download files in unusual formats.

There is also no degree or certification or any sort of recognition provided. The site offers education for education's sake - just the sort of purity that characterizes truly benevolent anarchy.�� It costs the school about $15,000 to collect the materials for each class, prepare them for online presentation, gain open source rights, and post them. A nice MIT touch is the classes that are translated into Chinese, Thai and other languages for ESL students. You're invited to contribute to the cause if you are so inclined.

If you're in need of a new career, one of the schools here on Get Degrees is the place to devote your hours allotted for renewed learning activities.�� But if you are interested in quantum physics as it is taught in one of the places where it was conceived, then check out MIT's remarkable experiment in free education.�� It's not task free; you'll be downloading .zip files and audio and video files.�� But when you do, you'll be in a virtual classroom at one of the nation's finest universities, no student ID required.

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