Check out the Academic Earth web site to view and listen to free lectures from the top scholars at Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. Below is a review of Academic Earth reviewed in the July 2009 issue of Choice Reviews Online:

Academic Earth, an entrepreneurial effort that is free online, is “an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education.” Six top-rated universities and their scholars provide more than 1,500 videos of courses and individual guest lectures that take place in the classroom. No registration is required and no credit is given. Optional registration allows users to save favorite lectures and post comments.

Video and audio portions of each lecture are excellent throughout. Users may select lectures/courses by browsing among the 17 discipline areas–from astronomy to religion–and by instructor, institution, or featured course/lecture.

An advanced search feature offers 32 subjects and filters for narrowing a search. Searching and navigation are easy and download-time, to either a PC or an iPod, is fast.  Lectures run from approximately 40 to 90 minutes, and courses are composed of approximately 20 to 45 lectures.

Many lectures feature related materials, including transcripts, PowerPoint slides, assignments, readings, and more. Students can assign grades to each course, and lecture and grade averages are posted. The FAQ file is a good way to start, and a feedback form is readily available for comments and questions.

Similar sites do not compare, including MIT OpenCourseWare (CH, Aug’07, 44-6573; course materials only), and Apple’s iTunesU (individual lectures and short video clips). Academic Earth is more inclusive–offering full lectures, courses, and related materials all in one place.

It would be of great use to students and other Internet users who want to learn more about a topic. Some academic disciplines are missing, e.g., art, sociology, and geology, but new material is regularly added, and most likely this user-friendly site will expand its offerings.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates, general audience, and professionals.” 

B. Anderson, Northern Illinois University

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