Getting a free education online has come a long way over the last few years. MIT OpenCourseWare appeared to be the first, offering the Internet free access to its course content. While I haven’t used MIT OpenCourseWare, I have used Standford University’s YouTube channel to learn about Lisp (Scheme). I’ve also viewed a couple of Khan Academy’s lectures on business. The issue now is finding the right course/lecture, given the huge range of options.
Academic Earth attempts to aggregate a lot of the online courses, in addition to offering credits for certain courses and online degrees (which, I assume, require some fee). While Academic Earth certainly does offer a great deal of value, I have found that it lacks the polish required to get it from “good” to “great”.
iTunes U is similar to Academic Earth, but uses Apple’s iTunes infrastructure to organise and distribute the information. While I’m not a fan of Apple or iTunes, I certainly appreciate the service provided. The issue here is that iTunes is a proprietary piece of software and is not available on Linux.
So I went looking for a way to access iTunes U on Linux and found tunesviewer. Tunesviewer worked on Ubuntu 10.04 without a problem. It’s as simple as browsing the topics you’re interested in and setting the podcasts to download.