Monday, February 23, 2009

# 345 on your 'Things to Do': Learn Game Theory from an M.I.T professor during your lunch break.

You will need about an hour, a dependable internet connection, and more than just passing curiosity.

The lectures made available courtesy Academic Earth are not your average Google or Youtube posts. They go far beyond the informative yet easy comprehensible TED videos as well: do not access Academic Earth if you are looking to be entertained alone. Visit the website if you are one of those folk who have always wanted the lesson, just not the visa fees and application package.

Academic Earth is a depository of lecture videos on the classics: Astronomy, Engineering, Economics, History, Philosophy, Psychology and Religion are just some of the covered subjects. Slate Magazine has a great article on this remarkable endeavor, here.

My one gripe is the limited list of participating universities: One hopes this project opens up to valuable lectures from other universities, Ivy or otherwise, though I don't want to imagine the sort of snafus the selection committee would run into while selecting one professor's discourse over another. Not quite sure how "international" the scope of this project is either-- the tag line does state "thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars", but there is very little of the rest of the world involved, at least at this stage. We shall call it room for development, then.

Personally, I believe this is one of the best things that could happen vis-à-vis Web 2.0 and associated bleargh, because it's an attempt to chip away at the exclusivity aura that surrounds the act of enrolling in classes where such subjects are discussed, at such depth. This means you and I don't have to sell two organs and our first born to get inputs on String Theory, or the contributing factors to the Middle East Crisis. This also means, learning at one's own pace. Does this change how education has worked till now? Perhaps, but only if such projects become more popular.

Of course, there's that old donkey to the pond adage. The creation of Academic Earth does not necessarily mean that knowledge levels of any particular demographic can be affected significantly, yet.

But heck, for late night web trawlers with a hunger for what is as yet unlearned and brain-space fueled by caffeine & a distaste for the daily news?
Aye. Exactly.
Ping me later, I'll be browsing the Social Entrepreneurship section.