Free Yale College Courses Debut Online

Today, Yale University is making some of its most popular undergraduate courses freely available to anyone in the world with access to the Internet.

The project, called “Open Yale Courses,” presents unique access to the full content of a selection of college-level courses and makes them available in various formats, including downloadable and streaming video, audio only and searchable transcripts of each lecture. Syllabi, reading assignments, problem sets and other materials accompany the courses.

The production of the courses for the Internet was made possible by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The seven courses in the sciences, arts and humanities—which were recorded live as they were presented in the classroom to Yale students—will be augmented with approximately 30 additional Yale courses over the next several years.

“Information technology allows the knowledge and passion of leading Yale faculty to reach everyone who wishes to explore these subjects,” said Yale President Richard C. Levin. “We hope students, teachers and anyone with an interest in these topics, no matter where they live or what they do, will take full advantage of these free and easily accessed courses.”

Diana E. E. Kleiner, Dunham Professor of the History of Art and Classics and the director of the project, noted that the full content of all the courses is now readily available online and may be accessed at the users’ convenience.

“We wanted everyone to be able to see and hear each lecture as if they were sitting in the classroom,” Kleiner said. “It’s exciting to make these thought-provoking courses available so broadly for free. While education is best built upon direct interactions between teachers and students, Yale believes that leading universities have much to contribute to making educational resources accessible to a wider audience. We hope this ongoing project will benefit countless people around the world.”

Kleiner said the courses reflect the broad liberal arts education provided by Yale College, which encourages critical thinking, intellectual exploration and creativity. She said Yale plans for future Open Yale Courses to include music and the arts.

Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest said that the availability of the Yale courses has significance far beyond the university.

"Making the talents of Yale's faculty available for free on the Internet is an important step toward the Hewlett Foundation's goal of providing access to knowledge and educational opportunities throughout the world," Brest said. "Truly, all the world is becoming a classroom." 

The URL for Open Yale Courses is: http://open.yale.edu/courses/

The first courses available through Open Yale Courses are:

  • Astronomy 160: Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics, with Professor Charles Bailyn
  • English 310: Modern Poetry, with Professor Langdon Hammer
  • Philosophy 176: Death, with Professor Shelly Kagan
  • Physics 200: Fundamentals of Physics, with Professor Ramamurti Shankar
  • Political Science 114: Introduction to Political Philosophy, with Professor Steven Smith
  • Psychology 110: Introduction to Psychology, with Professor Paul Bloom
  • Religious Studies 145: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), with Professor Christine Hayes

To encourage the widest possible use of the courses, the license that covers most of the lectures and other course material on Open Yale Courses is Creative Commons’ Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. This license permits the free use or repurposing of the Open Yale Courses material by others. Under this license, users may download and redistribute the Open Yale Courses material, as well as remix and build upon the content to produce new lectures or other educational tools. Commercial use of the Open Yale Courses material is prohibited.

The Open Yale Courses project is produced and supported by the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2), which promotes the innovative use of technology to enhance learning at Yale and beyond.

Open Yale Courses allows the public, in effect, to audit the Yale College courses for free online. There is no “enrollment” in the courses and Yale does not offer credit for those who use the course materials.

Yale also has developed partnerships to enable these resources to be widely utilized in academic settings around the world.

In India, Yale is working with the Indo-U.S. Inter-University Collaborative Initiative in Higher Education and Research’s Amrita satellite network to broadcast courses to universities throughout India.

In China, China Education Television (CETV) has agreed to broadcast individual lectures on CETV. CETV broadcasts are viewed by millions of Chinese. 

Individual faculty members at universities around the world will use Open Yale Courses in their classrooms.  Faculty at the following universities are participating:  University of Bahrain, Instituto de Tecnologia de Buenos Aires -- ITBA (Argentina), Fudan University (China), University of Ghana, Jimma University (Ethiopia), Tec de Monterrey (Mexico), University of Mumbai (India), Peking University (China), University of Tokyo (Japan) and Waseda University (Japan).

“We applaud Yale for making available their most valuable resource, the knowledge of their faculty, to contribute to improve the quality of the teaching in the world. We look forward to benefiting from and contributing to this effort,” said Patricio Lopez, president of the Virtual University, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico.

Yale Vice President Linda K. Lorimer, who is responsible for the University’s Office of Digital Content, commented, “Open Yale Courses gives us a new opportunity to share our intellectual treasury with everyone and for free.  We welcome other universities, high schools and non-governmental organizations to use these and future courses we will post on the Internet.”

Open Yale Courses will be featured in the more than three hundred American Corners located in libraries and universities abroad. American Corners is a public diplomacy project of the U.S. Department of State, and each day thousands of young people come to American Corners to pick up a book about life in the United States, learn about U.S. colleges and universities, or watch a video about the United States.  American Corners partnerships are often located outside of the capital city or in remote areas of the country.  With Open Yale Courses available at American Corners, students and lifelong learners will be able virtually to audit a class taught by one of the top professors in the world.

Open Yale Courses also will offer secondary school students who are considering applying to study in the United States the opportunity to see how subjects are taught in an American university.  Toward this end, educational advisers throughout the Middle East will be trained in their advising workshop next spring on how to use open educational resources, including Open Yale Courses, to prepare students for academia in the United States.

In addition to Open Yale Courses, Yale provides a growing library of free video and audio offerings on the Internet featuring Yale faculty and distinguished visitors to campus. This free resource includes a large variety of public talks, interviews and musical performances.