Education-Portal.com recently ranked UC Irvine as one of the top ten providers of free online courses. The ranking illustrates how UCI provides university-level courses free of cost for anyone around the world as a part of the OpenCourseWare (OCW) initiative.
OCW’s goal is to promote the spread of knowledge by allowing worldwide access to the materials and resources related to the courses.
“[I am] very happy that UCI is recognized as one of the top universities with the best free online courses,” said Gary W. Matkin, dean of continuing education at UCI.
The purpose of these courses is to ultimately serve people, Matkin said, and make enrollment more accessible to students.
“These courses are meant for people to use in their daily lives,” Matkin said.
Most of the free online courses that are available are designed to be useful to everyone. As of now, there are not many actual courses provided at the university, but UCI is looking into adding more online classes.
Matkin stated that UCI is different from the other top-rated universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University. Unlike many schools that did not make it onto the list, all UCI courses are required to meet specific standards and are strategically designed to help students.
Instead of only providing basic courses, Matkin said, “UCI gives people courses, refers people to other subjects and refers people to other courses that they might be interested in.”
In addition to the lessons and topics that directly complement each course, links to outside sources help broaden the sphere on particular subjects.
Matkin also said, “By doing this, people are able to learn and become more educated in the comforts of their own home.”
Free online courses, such as the financial planning class, can target a generic knowledge seeker, or be arranged to target specific individuals or groups. The California Subject Exam for Teachers class is designed for individuals pursing a teaching position.
UCI courses are also popular outside of the United States. According to Matkin, UCI currently has four courses in Portuguese. A press release for these courses in Brazil led to many online hits in South America.
In addition to OCW, people can also find these courses via a general Google search. However, since the free online courses began in November 2006, they can be somewhat difficult to find.
“OCW is a world changing movement. There are a billion people who cannot get a hold of an education or classes … OCW allows people to do that [and] UCI … is able to be a part of this movement,” Matkin said. “This movement can make a difference in the world.”
Online courses are available at http://ocw.uci.edu/courses.
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