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250 Free Distance Education Resources

May 14, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 1 Comments

Whether you’re studying online or at a traditional college, there’s no question that school is expensive.  But not everything has to cost an arm and a leg.  There are plenty of free distance education resources out there for cash-strapped students—if you know where to look.  Here are 250 free ways to enhance your education online.

Free Classes

Many of these schools and sites offer a large number of free courses and courseware.  These links to individual classes represent only a small sampling of what they have to offer, and the sites are worth exploring further.

Agriculture and Agricultural Engineering:


The Arts:



  • Biology 1A: A course introduction lecture in biology from Berkeley.
  • Biology: A Carnegie Mellon University introduction to cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry.
  • Biology of Water and Health: Touches on engineering of healthy water and how the health of our waterways is affected by social, economic, and environmental factors.
  • Basic Human Pathology: Examine general and systemic pathology with Tufts professors.
  • Genetics: Learn how genes and chromosomes function; how biological variations arise; and the function of genetic disease.
  • Regenerative Medicine: Learn about the emerging science of tissue regeneration for medical purposes.
  • The Role of Mitochondria in Human Disease: Use primary research to learn about the current body of knowledge on mitochondrial DNA’s affect in human pathology.
  • Systems and Synthetic Biology: How the Cell Solves Problems: Learn how molecules interact inside a cell to drive movement, metabolism, reproduction, and other life functions.



Computers & Technology



Environmental Studies:

Family Issues:


Health and Medicine:


Homeland Defense:






Access to scholarly journals:

  • Google Scholar: Search scholarly articles with Google.
  • Resource Shelf: See the results of searches performed by professional researchers, scholars, professors, and reference librarians.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals: Online access to scholarly and scientific journals—all free.
  • Rutgers Library Online: Rutgers library archives on African American history, literature, and culture.
  • Privately-run website where academic researchers can store online academic papers—a user-contributed web library.
  • Questia: Online library.  Searchable access to journals and books.
  • JournalSeek: Online access to scholarly journals.
  • Virginia Tech Electronic Journals: Free, open-access e-journals at the Digital Library at Virginia Tech.

Easy explanations, tutorials, and touch-ups:

  • How Stuff Works: Easily understandable explanations of how just about everything works, from plasma converters to antibiotics.
  • Wikipedia: Online encyclopedia; good for quick definitions of terms and concepts as well as subject overviews, but not considered a valid reference resource for papers.
  • The Owl at Purdue: Online MLA style guide, plus advice on writing academic and scientific research papers.
  • Education Online for Computer Software: Tutorials for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other basic software useful in online learning.
  • Cliff Notes: Free online access to Cliff Notes literature summaries and analysis.
  • Physics Tutorials: Tutorials and explanations of basic physics concepts.
  • Biology Tutorials: Tutorials on a wide variety of biology subjects.
  • Brush up on your typing skills—very useful preparation for online classes.
  • Beginner’s guide to effective email.
  • Glossary of Internet Terms: Definitions to both basic and advanced online terms and acronyms.

News sources:

Interactive research:

References for specific topics:

Social Support

  • Meetup: Start or join a face-to-face group of online learners in your area.
  • Yahoo! Groups: Find an online gathering of like-minded online students.
  • Craigslist: Immense online classifieds.  Advertise or find an advertisement for online students interested in starting a study group.
  • StudentCenter: Make connections with other college students.  Mainly aimed toward a younger crowd.

Education Podcasts:




Michael Williams Over a year ago

Jennifer, the above articles list class materials, more like a library not a course or class. When one thinks of a course or class they think of a discussion-forum, quizes-tests, FAQ's, assignments & Lectures followed by assessment & progress reporting ie Grading & accountability. Typically that can be accomplished with a Learning Management System (LMS), which none in the above list have.

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