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Education is free online. Just Need to Spend the Effort Searching

by Daniel Schaben

     According to Chris Anderson in the digital book, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”, information is becoming free. Fifteen years ago if I wanted to learn something on my own, I would find a book on the subject and either buy that book or go to the local library to borrow it. If it wasn’t located at my library they borrowed it from another library and the process could take up to a week just to have the book in my hands. Compare that to now, and we have a radically different process. For instance, five years ago, I decided to teach robotics and the course turned out autonomous and obstacle avoiding vehicles from basic components, when students and myself had zero knowledge when we started. MIT Courseware site ocw.mit.edu/ , arduino.cc/, www.adafruit.com/, and www.raspberrypi.org/ took our projects from movement to problem solving robots in short order.

     In high school mathematics there are two choices that are free and fabulous. The Art of Problem Solving (artofproblemsolving.com/) and Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org/). The latter two sites are great places to practice for college entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT. I list the Art of Problem Solving first as it specializes in the education of mathematics and has an approach that would foster a future mathematician. Khan is less specialized, but is a great place to get started in any subject.

     The process of learning is under a radical shift. Prospective students simply need to find a problem they would like to solve. Something they are passionate about. Then learn how to ask the right questions to find the information to solve that problem in an Internet search. Who knows, maybe they will find a spot to share what they discover through their passion and process of learning that will help someone else on the planet. We live in exciting times.