Weekly Feature

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View and Listen to College Lectures Online

March 24, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
If you’ve gone through the American educational system, chances are you’ve had an influential teacher. Great educators are those that inspire—they connect with students, stir enthusiasm, impart wisdom and produce understanding. We’ve tracked down a few notable professors who have extended their spheres of influence beyond their classroom doors.

Physics in Action

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For the visual learners among us, MIT Professor Walter Lewin takes his physics lectures to a whole new level. Each lecture he gives takes about 40 hours to prepare, and is rehearsed three times before his students ever see it. Many include complex real-life demonstrations of physics in action. In one of his signature displays, Lewin stands in front of a 33-pound wrecking ball to illustrate the principles of Hooke’s law. MIT’s OpenCourseWare site offers three complete classes’ worth of Lewin’s lectures; begin with Classic Mechanics I, taped in 1999.
MIT makes lectures and course notes freely available for more than 1,800 of its classes. Browse through all of MIT OpenCourseWare to find another professor or subject that interests you.

Life Lessons

The lessons educators teach don’t all come from textbooks—often they come from life. It became the goal of computer science professor Randy Pausch, of Carnegie Mellon University, to make that clear. Pausch, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006, shot to fame after giving a memorable “Last Lecture,” filled with advice to his students about how to achieve their dreams. He testified before Congress and was profiled by ABC. Pausch died in July 2008; his Web site is still available, and features a host of videos that include his Last Lecture and a talk about time management. The Last Lecture has also been published as a book.

Stargazing

At the University of California, Berkeley, students generally have a terrific time learning about the universe from award-winning astronomy professor Alex Filippenko. Filippenko incorporates music, props and digital technology to teach his students about concepts like changes in atomic energy levels. Audio versions of his lectures are available for free online.

Where Great Minds Think Alike (or Not)

Of course there are many, many great professors out there, along with other great thinkers who thrive on imparting their knowledge to others. One site that provides videos with a scholarly appeal is FORA.tv. The site hosts an abundance of videos featuring academics and intellectuals offering opinions and ideas on subjects as diverse as religion, health, education, energy and business. Some of the many partners at FORA.tv include The Brookings Institution, C-SPAN and Asia Society. Whether you want to listen to it, read about it, or chat about it with others, FORA.tv will help educate you about the world.
TED.com offers quirky, intriguing lectures from leading lights in science, politics, technology, business and the arts. Watch video lectures from Stephen Hawking, Jill Bolte Taylor, Al Gore, Elizabeth Gilbert and more.
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