Archive for the ‘Open Courseware’ Category

Get Into the Rhythm: 50 Open Courseware Collections for Musicians

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

By Megan Jones

Finding a place to take free classes can be a bonus for musicians struggling to pay the rent. The following open courseware collections include classes, entire courses, and lessons that are sure to please the musician in you. Select from college courses from some of the top-ranked universities, educational open courseware collections, music schools, and even podcasts and webcasts.

University Collections

Whether you take music classes from MIT or learn about early cultures from Utah State University, these university collections offer plenty of quality classes.

  1. MIT OpenCourseware Music and Theater Arts. MIT offers a great collection of free music classes ranging from musical structures to specific music styles from around the world.
  2. Columbia Interactive Arts. These art classes offered through Columbia often include music classes such as the history of the pops or music from the renaissance and baroque.
  3. The Open University Arts and History. Search this section of The Open University’s courses to find plenty of music classes that include examples such as Creating musical sounds and Using film music in the classroom.
  4. Harvard University Extension School. These classes change every semester with only two semesters offered at a time, so stay updated with the course offering here. Some classes have included topics such as History of Blues in America.
  5. Gresham College. The lectures assembled here include several courses on music including such varied topics as Chamber Music Fights Back and The Composer in Action.
  6. Sofia Project. This project of the Foothill College offers only one music class at this time, but stay tuned for any potential additions in the future.
  7. Fathom. Search this site to discover all music courses offered from any of Fathom’s member institutions.
  8. Utah State University. The anthropology department offers a class on cultural anthropology that includes information about music, dance, and more in early civilizations.
  9. Brigham Young University Division of Continuing Education. The free classes offered here include organ workshops, English horn, and adult modern dance.

Open Educational Resources

From an open courseware consortium to a huge collection of free online books and texts on music, these resources will provide you with plenty of information to help your music appreciation.

  1. OER Commons. Search for "music" at this collection of shared lessons among teachers and professors and you will find a variety of classes that range from classes constructed by Pete Seeger to an introduction to musical instruments.
  2. Qedoc. This educational resource sharing site provides many helpful resources for musicians and music teachers with such fun items as the Country Music Nicknames Quiz and Famous Composers I.
  3. Connexions. With topics such as Noisy Learning, Michael’s Sound Reasoning, and A Parent’s Guide to Band, you know the courses here will be varied and interesting. Just click on "Arts" or search for "music" in the search box.
  4. Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. Learn about music on this government site that provides information ranging from Broadway to blues to gospel.
  5. Open Vault. This media library and archives provides 140 different music lectures, videos, and more that go back from 1973.
  6. Open Courseware Consortium. Search for any musical topic with this resource and find open courseware classes offered by any of the consortium participants.
  7. MERLOT. Find almost 300 educational music classes and resources all specifically designed for faculty and students of higher education, but available to anyone.
  8. World Lecture Hall. Search for "music" at this site and find courses from around the world with topics on music such as Rhetoric of Popular Music and Physics of Sound.
  9. Project Gutenberg. While not technically an open courseware collection, this amazing resource of free downloadable books offers enough information to fill a number of courses with topics on any music subject you could want to learn about.

Music-Only Resources

These resources focus only on music instruction through either specific instrument lessons or with classes on music theory, songwriting, and more.

  1. Berklee Shares. This premier free music lesson site offers a wide variety of classes any musician can enjoy. Study specific instruments or more technical aspects of making music.
  2. Ricci Adams’ Search by lessons, trainers, or utilities to find a vast amount of free lessons and classes from this site.
  3. May Music Studio. Learn to play an instrument with the free lessons on this site or find out about music theory, songwriting, and more with the more academic classes offered.
  4. Gary Ewer’s Easy Music Theory. Get 26 free lessons complete with an instruction sheet, quizzes, and answer sheets to learn the basics about music theory.
  5. These ten lessons culminate with an examination to see how far you’ve come. Using a combination of video, text, and photos, these lessons will have you playing the piano in no time.
  6. PracticeSpot. Get resources, classes, and much more from this site that specializes in helping musicians improve their talent.
  7. Folk of the Wood Acoustic Classes. Learn to play the mandolin, violin, mountain dulcimer, banjo and more at this site that specializes in wooden instruments.
  8. Drum Bum Drum Database. This huge database offers many lessons about drumming in general and for specific drum types.

Free Lessons and Classes

These free lessons and classes don’t necessarily come from a university or music school, but offer a great selection that will provide you with the information and lessons you want.

  1. About U. Take a wide variety of music and music related classes here that range from guitar lessons to learning about pop music.
  2. Wikiversity. Get free classes on music theory, music appreciation, understanding music, and more at this resource that offers open source classes.
  3. Learn about classical music, jazz or opera; learn to play the guitar; learn how to get signed to a record label; and much more on this site that makes it easy to learn how to do what you want.
  4. Free Online Education. Look through the free online music classes available through this resource with everything from drum lessons to a history of music class.
  5. Instructables. Find short, simple and fun lessons that range from making a drum to building a stereo tube amp.
  6. Essentials of Music. This site has a wealth of information about classical music which includes articles, a glossary, and more.
  7. BBC Training & Development Radio Courses. Learn important radio skills such as editing and interviewing with these free online courses from the BBC.
  8. Free or Affordable Distance Education. This site offers a good selection of free online dance classes that anyone interested in combining their love of music with dance should check out.

Videos, Podcasts, and Webcasts

From full university courses to lectures from experts in the field to interviews with musicians, these podcasts, videos, and webcasts bring you many hours of free instruction.

  1. UC Berkeley Webcast Courses. Study such interesting classes as Earthquakes and Music from the offerings found here. Be sure to browse through the older course offerings as well.
  2. KQED Radio Perspectives. Get podcasts from this California radio station and learn what radio listeners find worth discussing.
  3. Stanford on iTunes. Download courses from Stanford that you can listen to on your iPod. Open the application and search for "music" to find plenty of classes for you to enjoy.
  4. How to Play the Cello. Watch these videos to learn the basics about playing the cello. From storage and cleaning to finger position to tuning, you will begin to feel more comfortable with your cello after this primer.
  5. Violin Masterclass. With these Quicktime videos, you can learn all you need to know to get started playing the violin. There is also a section just for children learning to play.
  6. Guitar Noise Podcast. Get 30 minute guitar lessons for free with this podcast that brings you everything from basic strumming to advanced techniques.
  7. Front Row. From Boston College, these podcasts offer a wide variety of lectures. Search for "music" and come up with subjects as varied as the roots of Gaelic music or Russian rock music.
  8. UChannel. Get educational lectures on these podcasts from member organizations. Some of the music-related subjects include programs as The New Mediterranean Symposium, We-think: the power of mass creativity, and Future Radio.
  9. University of British Columbia Podcasts. Scroll through these podcasts to find lectures on subjects such as opera and music from the play "Beautiful Thing."
  10. University of Oregon Campus Radio. Stream two different campus radio stations from UO, one of which offers university talk radio in addition to eclectic music.
  11. University of Virginia Podcasts & Webcasts. Do a search for music among these podcasts to pull up some interesting podcasts and webcasts that explore such topics as bridging cultures through music and music as medicine.
  12. University of Washington Television. Get videos that educate and explore music in video classes that include contemporary composers and piano power.
  13. NPR Podcast Directory Music. Browse through this collection of podcasts offered by NPR affiliate stations that touch on various topics of music including A Musician’s Life, musician interviews, and more.
  14. Open Source. The podcasts here courtesy of Brown University include a variety of topics that sometimes touch on the musical. Listen to learn about the Tanglewood Music Center or the connection between Bob Marley and Barack Obama at a literary festival in Jamaica.
  15. Library of Congress Webcasts. Browse through the titles here within the "Culture, Performing Arts" section to find a decent listing on music-related webcasts.
  16. WGBH Forum Network. The lectures here are provided by some of the best cultural and educational institutions in Boston. Click on the "music" section for several interesting webcasts.

100+ Free Open Courseware Links for Writers

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Writers today need to understand how to diversify by writing for different markets, including personal blogs, websites and for technical assignments. This versatility means that whether you’re an amateur writer, one who has been working in the writing field for years, or one who has received professional training at traditional or online universities, you will need to adapt to the changing times and grow your writing skills.

Even those whose majors were not writing intensive in college, or those with no writing background, have a lot to learn to continually succeed in the writing world. Luckily, you don’t have to waste time or money going back to school. This list of 100 free open courseware links can help you improve your essay-writing, fiction, blogging, and even managing your own small business.

Essay Writing and Research

For tips on critical writing, essays and figuring out your audience, turn to this list.

  1. Essay and Report Writing Skills: The Open University’s writing course challenges writers to consider the purpose of writing, as well as general tips for improving writing.
  2. Rhetorical and Critical Writing: Learn how to target and persuade your audience in this course.
  3. Advanced Writing Seminar: MIT’s advanced writing class involves many different types of writing.
  4. Foundations of Language and Communications: Sharpen your research and reasoning skills in this class.
  5. Writing About Race: Writers with a social conscious and those who want to effectively depict their characters will want to take this course.
  6. Writing and Experience: Exploring Self in Society: The writer learns techniques in self-examination in order to write with a strong sense of self.
  7. Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose: Get tips for organizing an essay, preparing a thesis and conducting your own research in this Utah State course.
  8. Finding information in arts and history: Make your research process more effective when you take this course.
  9. Targeting New Audiences: Finding Your Niche: This course in market research and narrowing your focus can help you reach more readers.
  10. Writing and the Environment: Study the writings of scientists in order to learn techniques in persuasion and more.
  11. Writing About Literature: Get tips for analyzing and writing about literary forms like poetry, plays and novels.
  12. Advanced Essay Workshop: Even if you’ve had a lot of practice writing essays, this advanced course can help you sharpen your ability to write about identity.
  13. Writing and Reading the Essay: This course focuses on the style and techniques of the literary essay.

Communications, Media and Society

This list features great courses and resources for journalists and those who write with social or global conscience.

  1. Expository Writing: Analyzing Mass Media: Academic writers learn how to analyze mass media outlets in order to develop their own research.
  2. Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Views and Print, Photography and Film: Learn how to write passionately about issues that appeal to you in this course.
  3. Identity in Question: Understanding the factors that shape a person’s or community’s identity is vital as a writer. Learn how to consider this question here.
  4. Consumer Culture: Better understand your audience and methods for writing for mass media outlets here.
  5. The Building Blocks of News: Learn the basic questions that news stories are supposed to answer, as well as how to write professionally and ethically.
  6. Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision: Learn why rewrites are important and get tips on editing.
  7. Reporting Across Platforms: Freelance writers have to be able to write for a number of different media outlets, including the Internet and print platforms. Learn how to treat each one uniquely in this class.
  8. Identity in American Literature: Keepin’ It Real Fake: Gain insight into the ways that American writers depict different racial and ethnic groups.
  9. The Interview: Writers can get tips for conducting and writing interviews here.
  10. Expository Writing: Food For Thought: Writing and Reading about Food and Culture: Bloggers and reporters who write about food and culture will benefit from this free course.
  11. Documentary Photography and Photo Journalism: Still Images of a World in Motion: Writers who are curious about branching out into photojournalism can explore the new medium in this course.
  12. Telling Untold Stories: Reporting Across Cultures: Better understand issues and themes like diversity, multimedia storytelling, stereotypes, race relations and more in this course.
  13. Proofreading Your Writing: Purdue’s tutorial will help you clean up your pieces.

Technical Writing

Read below for tips on writing for medical and scientific platforms.

  1. Introduction to Technical Communication: Perspectives on Medicine and Public Health: Study the writings of physicians to learn about technical style and issues.
  2. Intro to Tech Communication: Technical researchers learn the basics of technical writing here.
  3. Introduction to Technical Communication: Ethics in Science and Technology: Writers who work in science and medical fields can learn about unique ethical standards here.
  4. The Science Essay: Scientific writers can learn techniques about appealing to an audience and revising their work in this course.
  5. Technical Writing: Here you’ll find a great resource for technical writing.

Language and Grammar

Brush up on grammar, punctuation and structure with these classes.

  1. Introducing Representation: Consider how language is used to communicate thoughts, expressions and feelings.
  2. The Writer’s Workbench: 50 Tools You Can Use: Tools explained in this course include sentence structure, special effects and more.
  3. Language and its Structure I: Phonology: Go beyond your writing to study language in a greater context in this course.
  4. English4Today: Membership to this project is free, and you’ll get to learn about punctuation, grammar and more.
  5. Language and its Structure II: Syntax: Brush up on your understanding of syntax here.
  6. 1 language Online English Courses: Review grammar dos and donts like passive voice, plural nouns and more.

Freelance and Finance

For tips on managing your writing business, getting loans and marketing your services, turn to this list.

  1. Assessing Your Company’s Financial Needs: Learn how to determine your business’ financial standing in this course.
  2. Running a Profitable Company: Writers who are unfamiliar with business techniques may have a hard time making a profit. Learn how to do so in this course.
  3. Online Marketing Tips: The Internet is a valuable branding tool for independent writers. Learn how to make the most of its marketing possibilities here.
  4. HP Learning Center: Learn about designing a logo, writing your own marketing copy and creating your own marketing materials here.
  5. Introduction to Accounting: The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free introductory accounting class here.
  6. Maintaining an Agile Company: Get tips on being flexible and and learning how to reinvent your brand so that it always attracts an audience.
  7. My Own Business: The SBA’s class helps new entrepreneurs create a business plan and organize their new business.
  8. Start-Up Basics for the First-Time Entrepreneur: Lessons in this course include learning how to identify new opportunities.
  9. Preparing a Balance Sheet: Learn how to balance your company’s finances and budget when you take this course.
  10. Analyzing Your Competition: Find out ways to study other writers’ advertising and pitching tactics here.
  11. Competitive Decision-Making and Negotiation: Learn about different bargaining and negotiation techniques and that can help you secure higher rates and attract more clients in this class.
  12. Preparing a Cash Budget: Understand the basics of expected cash intake and spending here.

Technology, Web Writing and Design

Below is a list of courses that teach writers about blogging, Internet writing, the digital revolution and more.

  1. Writing and Experience: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing and Publishing in Cyberspace: This highly specialized course teaches web writers how to maximize Internet techniques.
  2. Technology for Professional Writers: Writers learn how to compete in the evolving marketplace here.
  3. The Dynamic World: Textuality and Technology: Discover the many ways that technology now affects literature. You’ll also get an introduction to digital media and writing for different media.
  4. Build and Engage Local Audiences Online: Learn how to reach out to audiences online in this course.
  5. Multimedia Reporting: Covering Breaking News: Online news means that all reports need to be accurate and timely. Learn how to cover breaking news on your own here.
  6. HTML Basics: New web writers can take this class to understand basic HTML coding and format.
  7. Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice: Discover how digital media can open up your narrative techniques in this course.
  8. Digital Poetry: Learn about factors like animation, hypertext and more in this evolving poetry form.
  9. Evaluating Sources of Information: This course is dual-purpose: you can get tips on finding quality research materials and discover ways to design your own blog so that others will notice its authority.
  10. Introduction to Web Writing: Wikiversity’s introductory class can help writers who are unfamiliar with web writing catch up.
  11. Web Page Authoring: Here is another course that teaches HTML format, design and more.
  12. Quick Ways to Clean Up Your Writing: Web writers aren’t exempt from grammar and typo mistakes. Learn fast tips for making your writing easy-to-read and error free.

The Classics

Understanding the classics, from mythology to philosophy to poetic form and structure, can be very helpful to your writing.

  1. Greek Mythology: Keep all of your gods, goddesses and myths in order when you take this course, which can help with inspiration, allusions and more.
  2. Classical Drama and Theatre: If you want to become a playwright, or if you’re interested in classical literature, take this course.
  3. Classical Rhetoric and Modern Politics: This class can serve as a foundation for political writers and persuasive writers.
  4. Foundations of Western Culture 1: Homer to Dante: Fiction writers, journalists and essay writers can benefit from a review of the trends, works and individuals that shaped Western culture.


If you’re looking for inspiration or examples of great literary forms, check out these courses that analyze Shakespeare, American literature and more.

  1. Prizewinners: If you’re aiming to become a world-famous fiction writer, study writers like Seamus Heaney in this course.
  2. Forms of Western Narrative: See how your style fits in with the techniques, media and sub-genres of Western literature.
  3. World Literatures: Contact Zone: All writers need to have a global perspective these days, and this course studies the effects that come about when different cultures converge.
  4. Literary Studies: The Legacy of England: The influence of British literature on English language fiction is vast: analyze its effects here.
  5. The American Novel: Track the evolution of the American novel according to changing social standards, politics, economic trends and more.
  6. Literary Terms: Review these terms before writing literary criticism.
  7. Introduction to Shakespeare: Read plays like Othello, Richard III, Much Ado about Nothing and other Shakespeare classics.

Legal Resources

Here you’ll learn how to protect yourself professionally, understand Internet law and more.

  1. Freedom of Information: Journalists and reporters will learn about the Freedom of Information Act and Public Records Laws in this course.
  2. Online Media Law: Bloggers and other Internet writers will learn about writing and criticizing government, as well as gain an understanding of Internet publishing laws.
  3. Introduction to Ethical Decision Making: This class isn’t all about the law, but coordinating your business and writing with an ethical perspective are vitally important to your career and reputation.
  4. Literary Law Guide: This resource has great information for web writers, bloggers and more.
  5. Avoiding Plagiarism: Lessons in this resource include Safe Practices and Is It Plagiarism Yet?
  6. Law for the Entrepreneur and Manager: Learn how to protect your business here.
  7. Privacy Rights and the Law: Writers working for UK-based publications and websites can review human rights and privacy laws here.

Videos and Podcasts

There are loads of podcasts and instructional videos online for writers. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing: Listen to these famous podcasts to learn about grammar, usage and more.
  2. The Secrets: Listen to podcasts about writer’s block, characterization and other fiction writing techniques, career building, and more.
  3. Small Biz Tech Girl: If you need help learning how to use web tools to start up your business or blog, listen to these podcasts.
  4. The Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy: Fantasy writers get tips on standing out amongst the competition here.
  5. Freelance Radio: FreelanceSwitch’s podcast channel, Freelance Radio, offers up tips and news stories.
  6. Hot for Words: Who said learning about words had to be boring? These videos feature a hot blonde host who explains the origin of weird words.
  7. The Writing Show: This popular podcast is a great resource for writers. You can listen to interviews with other writers, get tips on essay writing, and more.
  8. Perfcast: Bloggers can find tips for advertising and more on this site.
  9. How to Write Better Almost Instantly: Writing workshop teacher Rix Quinn shares easy tips for transforming your essay-writing techniques.
  10. Litopia: Educate yourself on the publishing industry when you listen to Litopia’s podcasts.
  11. Novel Writing Made Easy: Learn how to take the novel writing system and "dumb it down" so that it’s more approachable.

Creative Writing

From poetry to short stories to developing characters, these courses can help you become a better creative writer.

  1. Comedy: Writing comedy is harder than you think. This course teaches techniques and studies the works of Mark Twain, Shakespeare and others.
  2. Writing on the Contemporary Issues: Imagining the Future: Learn how to analyze present day issues and social trends in order to depict futuristic communities and themes in your writing.
  3. Writing and Reading Short Stories: If you want to be a short story writer, take this course.
  4. What is poetry?: This course covers topics in poetic techniques, the imagination and poetic form.
  5. Start writing fiction: Learn all about character development and experiment with different genres in this course.
  6. Agatha Christie and Archaeology: Learn how Agatha Christie gained inspiration for her novels from trips to the Middle East.
  7. The Creative Spark: Get techniques for uncovering your creativity in this class.
  8. Writing and Reading Poetry: Analyze 20th-century poetry and poetry techniques in this class.
  9. Emotion: an introductory picture: By understanding how and why people react to situations, your fiction writing will improve.
  10. Introduction to Fiction: Analyze the different forms of fiction and narrative styles in this course.
  11. Tragedy: Learn about the tragic hero, ethical crisis and the scapegoat in this course.
  12. Screenwriting Class: UCLA professor Steven Barnes has put up a modified version of his screenwriting class here.
  13. Pattern and Variation in Poetry: This class can help you find your own style and understand how to analyze others’ works as well.