OpenCourseWare is a consortium of higher learning institutions that provide free, online classes. According to its website, "OpenCourseWare is a free and open digital publication of high-quality educational materials, organized as courses." While various universities participate in this program, you cannot use the classes for continuing education credits or to satisfy degree requirements. Neither are you given access to instructors. These courses are simply for your own edification. The work and how much of it you do is completely up to you.
For a list of universities that participate in this program check out the Consortium Members link. These courses are not limited to the United States, but participating universities can be found all over the world. Just click on the link for the university you are interested in and you can then look over the classes they offer.
Just some of the United States universities participating in this program include the following: UC Berkley, Arizona State University, Utah State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Michigan State, Kaplan, University of California, Irvine, and University of Notre Dame. In all, there are 22 American universities represented with close to 2,000 classes.
Classes offered differ in what and how much information is presented. Some classes may provide a simple reading list and discussion questions while others provide Microsoft Powerpoint slides of lectures and even the lectures themselves as downloadable MP3 files. One class I looked at provided a reading list that included links to the materials on Google Books so that you can read the "assignments" from Google Books. Universities also may have as few as ten courses or many more such as the MIT which has 1800 courses.
There are no signups for these classes. Simply find what you are interested in and read or download information having to do with the course. Some websites might require some sort of login, but once you provide your e-mail and a password, you are ready to access classes.
To give you an idea of just some of the classes you could take for free through this consortium, consider the following sampling:
• The Places of Migration in United States History (MIT), http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/History/21H-221Fall-2006/CourseHome/index.htm
• Medicine and Public Health in American History (Notre Dame), http://ocw.nd.edu/history/medicine-and-public-health-in-american-history
• Crime, Heredity and Insanity in American History (Notre Dame), http://ocw.nd.edu/history/crime-heredity-and-insanity-in-the-us
• History of Utah (Utah State University), http://ocw.usu.edu/History/History_of_Utah
• Beginning Latin Grammar (Utah State University), http://ocw.usu.edu/History/beginning-latin-grammar
• Medical Terminology (College of Eastern Utah), http://ocw.ceu.edu/nursing/medical-terminology