Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


by Anna Kathryn Lanier

I was told about http://www.onlinecollege.org/ last year, and did post about it on another blog, but thought I’d post an updated blog here, since it looks as if the site itself has been updated, too. As Caitlin Smith says on the site, “With new technology making the world more interconnected every day, it can be beneficial no matter what field you work in to have a good idea of the history of not only your own country but those around the world. These open courses will help you to learn about history in diverse countries and time periods to give you a well rounded knowledge of the social, political and intellectual history that has shaped the modern world.”

It’s not as if you will actually participate in an online college class, where you’ll have a teacher and assignments that are due. What this site offers you are links to the course information, downloadable and free of charge. You would then go over the information at your leisure and, if you want to do the assignments, more power to you.

Now, how does this work? Let’s look at one of the MIT courses. Once you click on the link from the 100 Courses website, you are taken to the website of the course. On the left hand side is a menu:

• Course Home
• Syllabus
• Calendar
• Readings
• Assignments
• Study Materials
• Related Resources
• Download Course Materials

From this page, you get the course handed to you. As said, there is no teacher; you study on your own. The courses are free, but I see that MIT asks for a donation, to support “the production and distribution of high quality MIT course materials.”

Most of the courses are offered through MIT, but other universities are present as well: Notre Dame, Berkeley, John Hopkins, UMass Boston, Yale and WGU.

So, what courses can you take? Here’s a short list of the 100 classes Caitlin mentions:

The World Since 1492: This course focuses on four major areas of world history: the struggles between Europeans and colonized peoples; the global formation of capitalist economies and industrialization; the emergence of modern states; and the development of the tastes and disciplines of bourgeois society. [MIT]

Monarchs, People and History: This course will help you learn about the origins and reasons for the monarchy and the role it played in the history of Europe and around the world under European imperialism. [UMass Boston]

The Civil War and Reconstruction: Learn more about this particularly tumultuous period in American history, from the events that brought it about to the eventually reunification of a nation. [MIT]

The Emergence of Europe: 500-1300: This course will cover a wide range of European history, including the crusades and various other conquests. [MIT]

Nineteenth Century Europe: This course will take you through European history from 1815 to 1900. [UMass Boston]

The Ancient City: This course will focus on urban architecture in Greece and Rome, using current and past archaeology as a starting point. [MIT]

Medieval Economic History in Comparative Perspective: Learn more about the social and economic changes in medieval Europe and its connections to Islam, China and central Asia. [MIT]

History of Western Thought, 500-1300: This course will help you to learn more about intellectual traditions from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages. [MIT]

French Revolution: Here you can learn about the origins of the French Revolutions and the bloody aftermath that followed. [OpenLearn]

Check out all the great courses at 100 Free Courses to Teach Yourself World History.

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Tumbleweeds Hang Their Hats


Mary Ricksen said...


Historical Writer/Editor said...

Thanks so much for sharing this information.

The Word Place said...

Fantastic! The community college here doesn't allow seniors to audit their classes, and even though I have an MA in history, I'm always looking for new info to review/learn. I'd be interested in free courses in other areas, too, if you know of any. Thanks so much for the information!

Alyssa Maxwell said...

What a fabulous resource! Kind of a writer's dream, really. Thanks, Anna!

Susan Macatee said...

Sounds great! Thanks for sharing this!

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

A friend of mine said a lot people would have trouble doing these courses on their own, and she's probably right. But at the very least, you can get a list of books to check out for reference use.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Victoria Gray said...

What a great resource! Thanks for sharing.

librarypat said...

Thanks for the information on this site. I checked the link and found several courses to check out.