How to continue one's education without going back to school?
April 12, 2009 8:47 PM   Subscribe

How to continue one's education without going back to school?

I'm interested in a lot of different subjects. I already have a Master's degree I hope to continue lifelong learning. I'm self motivated, but what I miss about school was being directed towards the most cutting edge and respected theorists and being given a context for what you are reading.

Without signing up for classes, I'm wondering how I can find some of the resources that students have access to...for example, syllabi that list required reading for different classes. Also, any thoughts about how to pursue lifelong learning independent from formal schooling?
posted by mintchip to Education (15 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
OCW and it's ilk exist for this very purpose.
posted by phrontist at 8:53 PM on April 12, 2009

College textbooks can be bought by anyone. They'll still kill you on the prices though. Often times if you live in a place with a large university they will have "notes shops". Basically some students sit in on lectures and sell their notes afterward. I know I had to buy a week or so of notes for a few classes when a cross country Winnebago trip presented itself.
posted by sanka at 8:53 PM on April 12, 2009

I suppose it depends on your area of interest, but reading Research Blogging may help you to keep up with new scientific findings.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 9:20 PM on April 12, 2009

Also, you might want to check this list.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 9:21 PM on April 12, 2009

Check out this recent AP article for resources -- On the Net: College too expensive? Try YouTube.

Also, check out:
Academic Earth -- "Thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars."

Harvard@Home -- "The mission of Harvard@Home is to provide the Harvard community and the broader public with opportunities for rich in-depth exploration of a wealth of topics through Web-based video programs of the highest caliber."

Online Education Database -- "Free Podcasts from the Best Colleges in the World"

OpenLearn -- "The Open University provides high-quality university education to all."

World Lecture Hall -- "Welcome to World Lecture Hall, your entry point to free online course materials from around the world."
posted by ericb at 10:28 PM on April 12, 2009 [6 favorites]

On the Net: College too expensive? Try YouTube.

Primary resource: YouTube EDU.
posted by ericb at 10:31 PM on April 12, 2009

This company puts out DVDs by top professors in many subject areas. ai=16281">"> The DVDs are available through the company, libraries, Ebay.
posted by Elsie at 12:33 AM on April 13, 2009

Have you thought about taking a research degree?

This would not really be "independent of formal schooling" in the sense that you're not dissociated from formal schooling, but this approach would have the advantage of structure, context and access to folks more knowledgeable than yourself who can help guide as your objectives evolve. You'd also be able to participate in regular seminars and presentations in your domain of choice.

No location data in profile, but in the UK there is a research degree called an M.Phil.. Don't worry so much about the structure presented in the Wiki; this varies greatly according to the institution you're attending.

I'm associated with a University in London that allows research students to enroll and redefine and clarify objectives as they study. Without exams, a part time M.Phil at our institution takes at least five years, allowing for a broad and rich study.

While one might want to complete a course of study and be awarded a degree, realistically you wouldn't have to and could just drift along. I know folks who have been with this particular University for well over a decade, and just enjoy the infrastructure, experience and supportive environment a University offers.

An appropriate University environment can markedly help you in your goal to achieve life long learning, and perhaps even master a specific domain, but without the downsides that trying to learn a topic from blogs or independent study entails.

Don't hesitate to mail if I can provide further help!
posted by Mutant at 3:30 AM on April 13, 2009

Stanford on iTunes U might be a good resource, too.
posted by bcwinters at 5:36 AM on April 13, 2009

I guess this is why they invented conferences? I don't think there is a discipline that exists which does not hold conferences to acquaint people in that field with the latest tech or research. The conferences in my field usually acquaint me with things that are too new to be taught in classes.
posted by JJ86 at 5:58 AM on April 13, 2009

Open Culture is a wonderful fun resource.

See these metafilter threads:
Reading Writing & Arithmetic Resources
Oxford Podcasts
Science Hack
A People's History for the Classroom
The Ancient Web

Metafilter is a great resource for this. Use the 'education' tag, then browse the related tags that sidebar. I linked the threads above because they can be a good filter to the sites recommended. People find interesting things and link them, or they argue validity (like in The Ancient Web) and then link to better resources. I just did a quicky search through my favs and the education tag back through the last half of 2008. There's TONS more here.

Have fun and personally thanks for re-sparking my own interests in this sort of thing!
posted by dog food sugar at 8:09 AM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Many professors (at least at my university) had their syllabi posted online. I'm sure you could surf around on some universities websites by department, and then find professors who have stuff online.

Also if you have the time during the day, drop into a large lecture class. If you sit in the back row, nobody will even notice you're not a student.
posted by at 8:27 AM on April 13, 2009

I find only syllabi by adding "syllabus" to the end of google searches.
posted by tnygard at 3:13 PM on April 13, 2009

Here's a good syllabus finder.

There are also lots of free textbooks at Wikibooks
posted by susanvance at 6:18 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

On a related note, I recommend The Teaching Company (TTC) . Also see Autodidacticism.
posted by devnull at 3:52 AM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

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