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You Have No Excuse for Remaining Ignorant


If you’re reading this, you have access to the intertubes. Which also means you have access to this:

The web has made it easier than ever before to get a free education, and you'd join the ranks of great thinkers in history who were also self-taught, like Joseph Conrad, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Paul Allen, Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway. You, too, can be an autodidact; the breadth of free educational materials available online is absolutely astonishing.

Grab some larnin' from the University of Washington's free online courses; Greek mythology, American Revolution, Heroic Fantasy are just some of the offerings. If you get tired of that, you can study economics at the University of Nebraska.

Teach yourself sign language from Michigan State University. Browse through the vast treasures at the Library of Congress. View free videos on all sorts of subjects from Annenberg Media, a major supplier to most distance learning universities, or read the core documents of American democracy.

Learn mathematics with this extensive list of free online math courses from Whatcom Community College. Visit Carnegie Mellon University and take Biology, Causal Reasoning, Statistics, and more, all for free.

The linked story continues like that for eight more paragraphs. You can learn anything you want to know, at the college level, for free. But just like traditional education, you have to want to.

And the interweb can help with that, too. Say you want to learn something, but don’t have the time? Back to the google, or start with one of my personal favorites, David Seah.

In 1998, William Bogart remarked that the primary differences between a modern college and one in the 1300s were that we no longer wear robes and no longer speak Latin. In the intervening decade, technological progress has eliminated the need to sit face-to-face in high-priced lecture halls.

Craig Newmark (hattip) notes that although these free online courses will not lead to a sheepskin, employers will like develop substitute credentials. Students, too, have an interest in avoiding the massive costs—and debt—associated with our 14th-Century model of education. Look for more learn-to-work transitions, like internships. The Ivory Tower is beginning to crumble.