100 Free Cutting-Edge Courses that Didn’t Exist When You Were in School

100 Free Cutting-Edge Courses that Didn’t Exist When You Were in School
100 Free Cutting-Edge Courses that Didn’t Exist When You Were in School
Whether you’ve been out of school for 10 years or 20, chances are it’s pretty different today than when you were in school. Advances in technology, new information about the world around us, and changes in society have added many new classes to college offerings. You can help keep yourself up-to-date on what is going on in the world by taking cutting-edge and free courses online that touch upon the latest developments in technology, science, the Internet and much more.


Through these courses you can learn about advances in engineering, a diverse array of things from the biological to the astronautic.
Optical Engineering: Through this course you’ll learn about optical methods of engineering including diffraction, statistical optics, holography, and imaging. [MIT]
Industrial Design Intelligence: A Cognitive Approach to Engineering: Here you’ll learn about connecting engineering and technology with the process of creating highly usable and physical objects. [MIT]
Introduction to Bioengineering: Check out this course to learn about some of the basic elements of bioengineering and the variety of fields associated with it. [MIT]
Space Systems Engineering: Want to know more about what goes into engineering space bound telescopes? This course will teach you about the cost, engineering and policy issues that it’s concerned with. [MIT]
Computer Language Engineering: today learning a computer language can in many ways be more useful than knowing a human language. This course will help you learn what goes into creating these programming languages. [MIT]
The Structure of Engineering Revolutions: Here you’ll find an interesting look at how an engineering project moves from an idea to a technological revolution. [MIT]
Organic Optoelectronics: Pay this course’s site a visit to learn about "optical and electronic processes in organic molecules and polymers that govern the behavior of practical organic optoelectronic devices."[MIT]
Biochemical Engineering: This course addresses the intersection between the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology. [MIT]
Chemical and Biological Reaction Engineering: If you’d like to learn more about how reaction systems, both biological and chemical, work and how reaction rates and equilibrium are maintained, take this course. [MIT]
Computational Methods in Aerospace Engineering: In this course you’ll learn about the myriad of computer techniques and applications that aid in aerospace engineering. [MIT]

Computer Systems

Get the scoop on all kinds of computer related topics including engineering, networks, theoretical ideas and system architecture.
Affective Computing: In this course you can learn about the types of computing that influence emotion or are designed to imitate it. [MIT]
Conversational Computer Systems: Want to understand how your computer or phone talks to you? How it understands voice commands? This course will touch on this and many other issues related to computer to human communication. [MIT]
The Anthropology of Computing: Through this course you’ll get a better understanding of what computers mean to our society, both in the past and present. [MIT]
Computer System Engineering: Here you can learn more about the complex issues that go into engineering both the hardware and software that go into making your computer run the way it does. [MIT]
Algorithms for Computer Animation: Computer animation is all around us these days from feature length films to short advertisements, so learn more about the math an science behind the process of creating these great animations through this course. [MIT]
Composing with Computers: In this class you’ll explore sound through technology and find out what you can do with it using a computer to arrange, create and manipulate music. [MIT]
Computer Networks: Check out this course to learn about how networks work on both a small and global scale. [MIT]
Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science: All of our technology was once simply theoretical, and this course addresses some of the complex and challenging ideas that are at the cutting edge of computer science today. [MIT]
Quantum Computation: Learn more about the physics of computer processes through this course. [MIT]
Computer System Architecture: If you’ve ever wondered what all those individual parts of your computer actually do this course can help by explaining the way computer architecture is put together. [MIT]

Software and Programming

With so much of our lives revolving around software and computer technology it can be advantageous to learn a little about it. These courses will help you better understand the intricacies of the business and practice of software engineering.
The Software Business: Software is big business these days, and you can learn about some of the issues that specifically affect these kinds of managers and companies. [MIT]
Foundations of Software Engineering: This course addresses a number of topics in software engineering using C# and .NET, including algorithms for modeling, web service and software maintenance.[MIT]
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs: Through this course, students will learn how to use basic programming to analyze computational systems and to generate computational solutions to abstract problems. [MIT]
Introduction to Software Engineering in Java: If you’ve heard of Java but aren’t sure what it’s all about or want to learn how to use it yourself, try out this course. [MIT]
Operating System Engineering: Your operating system forms the boundary between you and the more complex operations that occur on your computer. This course will teach you more about what goes into engineering these in-depth programs. [MIT]
Essential Coding Theory: This course will teach students about the theory of error-correcting codes and how theories from the 40′s can be applied to present day applications. [MIT]
Introduction to Computer Science and Programming: Those looking for a more introductory course will appreciate this free class laying out the basics of computer science and programming. [MIT]
Software Engineering Concepts: This course introduces a variety of software engineering concepts and focuses on what has and hasn’t worked in the past as a means to find new avenues for future development. [MIT]
A Gentle Introduction to Programming Using Python: Python is a very useful programming language and you can learn how to program with it through this course. [MIT]
Dynamic Programming and Stochastic Control: What happens when you need a program to make decisions under uncertain conditions? This course will explain how to engineer more dynamic systems. [MIT]

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

As much as it seems like science fiction, computers using artificial intelligence are becoming more and more a part of our lives. These courses will help you learn about the implications and applications of this as well as robotics.
Ambient Intelligence: Who wouldn’t like to interact with an interface that was more intelligent and responsive? This course discusses the design and implementation of these kinds of systems. [MIT]
Introduction to Robotics: Through this course students will learn more about robot mechanisms, dynamics, and intelligent controls. [MIT]
Lego Robotics: Legos aren’t just toys for kids, they can also be used to build more sophisticated robots as this course shows. [MIT]
Cognitive Robotics: Here you can learn more about robots that are autonomous, meaning they can make intelligent decisions using artificial reasoning skills. [MIT]
Out of Context: A Course on Computer Systems That Adapt To, and Learn From, Context: This course addresses not only the need for more intelligent and responsive computer systems but ones that can use context clues as well. [MIT]
Techniques in Artificial Intelligence: This advanced course in artificial intelligence will touch on topics like first-order logic, modern deterministic and decision-theoretic planning techniques, basic supervised learning methods, and Bayesian network inference and learning. [MIT]
Special Topics in Media Technology: Cooperative Machines: In this course you’ll learn about the challenges that arise in getting machines to effectively cooperate with each other and humans. [MIT]
Relational Machines: Learn more about human-machine interactions and the process of developing smarter machines in this course. [MIT]
Medical Artificial Intelligence: Would you trust a computer to treat you medically? This course examines medical diagnosis, therapy selection, and monitoring and learning from databases in the health care field. [MIT]
Machine Vision: Through this course you can learn how programmers teach machines to see, creating a symbolic description of an environment from an image. [MIT]
Artificial Intelligence: This course will teach you about the basic issues related to artificial intelligence if you have little previous knowledge of the subject. [MIT]
The Human Intelligence Enterprise: Check out this course to learn more about the enterprise dedicated to understanding human intelligence from a computational point of view. [MIT]

Nano and Micro Technology

Things have likely gotten a lot smaller since you were in school, sometimes even to the nano degree. If you want to learn more about the smallest of technologies, check out these free offerings.
From Nano to Macro: Introduction to Atomistic Modeling Techniques: This course focuses on using modeling techniques to show how materials may fail, even on the atomic level. [MIT]
Mathematical Methods in Nanophotonics: In this course you’ll learn about computing and analysis in the study of nanophotonics or electromagnetic waves in media structured on the scale of the wavelength. [MIT]
Micro/Nano Processing Technology: Check out this course to learn how those micro and nano materials are constructed, focusing on issues like diffusion, oxidation, photolithography, chemical vapor deposition. [MIT]
Nanomechanics of Materials and Biomaterials: Take this course online to learn about the latest developments in this field. [MIT]
Nano-to-Macro Transport Processes: This course will address some of the issues that arise when trying to transfer energy and heat from the nano to the macro scale. [MIT]
Submicrometer and Nanometer Technology: In this course, students will learn how to fabricate these kinds of technology addressing everything from electron lithography to microelectronics. [MIT]
Nano-life: An Introduction to Virus Structure and Assembly: Learn more about the structure and DNA of viruses and how they can be taken apart, put together and studied to better understand how they work. [MIT]
Design and Fabrication of Microelectromechanical Devices: Take this course to learn more about what kind of technology and knowledge is required to build devices on the micro level. [MIT]
Integrated Microelectronic Devices: Through this course, students can learn about the physics of microelectronic semiconductor devices for silicon integrated circuit applications. [MIT]

General Technology

These free courses address a variety of technological issues from energy to video games.
Pattern Recognition for Machine Vision: This course will help you to better understand the processes that go into allowing machines to recognize patterns and achieve a sort of vision. [MIT]
Videogame Theory and Analysis: Ever wonder what about the cultural and societal implications of video game technology? This course will examine these issues in depth and address how games function in variety of settings. [MIT]
Technology and Culture: In this course students will learn about the intersection of technology and popular culture from the 19th century to the present day. [MIT]
Photovoltaic Solar Energy Systems: The costs, benefits and other aspects of photovoltaic solar energy systems will be addressed in this course. [MIT]
Space Policy Seminar: From national security to commercial issues, this course addresses the legal aspects of space travel and technology. [MIT]
Sustainable Energy: An issue that has come to the forefront in recent years, this course addresses the current and potential sources of sustainable energy out there. [MIT]


Most of us use the internet on a daily basis, something that ten years ago was just becoming mainstream. Through these courses you can learn more about business, communication and design as they relate to the internet.
Internet Technology in Local and Global Communities: Take this course to learn about the role internet plays on both a small and large scale. [MIT]
Economics and E-commerce: Take a look at e-commerce from an economic standpoint and gain a better understanding of what makes online business successful from this course. [MIT]
Software Engineering for Web Applications: Here you can learn about the design and development of software and applications intended to be used solely on the web. [MIT]
Communicating in Cyberspace: Do we communicate differently on the web than we do in everyday life? This course addresses some of the communication issues that are specific to the internet. [MIT]
Writing on Contemporary Issues: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace: These days it seems like everyone has a blog. You can learn more about issues that go along with writing for and on the web through this course. [MIT]
eCommunities: Analysis and Design of Online Interaction Environments: Here you’ll learn about designing and optimizing online communities as well as a better understanding of how users employ them and define themselves within them. [Open Michigan]
Understanding Online Interaction: This introductory course will explore the ways in which people interact with each other through online networks. [USU]
Designing Sociable Media: Check out this course to get a better understanding of the major issues that go into designing online media meant to enable users to socialize. [MIT]

Information and Communication

These courses address major issues in telecommunications and managing information in the digital age.
NextLab I: Designing Mobile Technologies for the Next Billion Users: Mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous and you can learn how to take part in the development of the latest phones and PDAs. [MIT]
Competition in Telecommunications: Take a look at the business side of telecommunications through this free course. [MIT]
Quantum Information Science: Apply quantum mechanics to computation and information science in this class for experienced students. [MIT]
Information Technology I: This course will help you learn about the basics when it comes to information technology. [MIT]
Database, Internet, and Systems Integration Technologies: Through this course you’ll get an intensive review of information technology, as well as learning about software development, data modeling, databases and more. [MIT]
Integrating eSystems & Global Information Systems: Learn what an important role information technology plays in businesses and how to design systems that work in this course. [MIT]
Network and Computer Security: Keeping your information, personal or professional, secure is an important concern and you can learn more about the process through this free class. [MIT]
Communications and Information Policy: Law often doesn’t keep up with all the rapidly changing issues in communications and information. This course will help you keep up with where it stands today. [MIT]
Selected Topics in Cryptography: This course addresses a range of advanced topics when it comes to securing information. [MIT]
Communication System Design: Learn how communication systems are built from the ground up with lessons on communication theory, algorithms, multi-tone modulation, synchronization and more. [MIT]


Check out these great courses to get a better understanding of how new media works and the ways it which it can be designed and used.
Fundamentals of Computational Media Design: Here you’ll learn about the history of 20th century art and design from the perspective of the technologist. [MIT]
Signals, Systems and Information for Media Technology: This course will teach you and signals and information theory as well as data compression, filter design, and feature detection. [MIT]
Digital Anthropology: Learn how the online environment can be a place for anthropological and social research to take place. [MIT]
Techno-identity: Who we are and how we perceive ourselves and others: As many are well aware, people aren’t always who they really are when they’re in the online world. This course examines that idea and other factors of online identity.[MIT]
Digital Typography: Through this course you can learn what goes into designing great typography. [MIT]
New Media Literacies: Take this free course to learn about using media to engage in fan fiction writing, online social networking, videogaming, appropriation and remixing, transmedia navigation. [MIT]


Education isn’t immune from technological advancements. These courses address new ways computers and other technologies are being implemented in the classroom and beyond.
Technologies for Creative Learning: Learn about new technologies for education that can take learning to a different level. [MIT]
Autism Theory and Technology: This course addresses ways that new technology can help students struggling with autism. [MIT]
Technological Tools for School Reform: Many people think the educational system needs changing, and this course explores the ways in which technology may play a role. [MIT]
Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education: Computer games aren’t just for fun, they can be great tools for learning as well as this course explains. [MIT]
Creating Open Educational Resources: If you’re reading this you’re probably interested in taking advantage of open education. This course explains how these resources are developed and disseminated. [TWB]


With new technology comes new ways to express or communicate an idea, and these great courses blend technology and creativity.
Special Topics in Multimedia Production: Experiences in Interactive Art: For those who’d like to try out interactive art, this course can help you explore some of the great applications. [MIT]
Holographic Imaging: If you’ve ever wondered how holographic images are created and used this course will inform you. [MIT]
Numeric Photography: This course attempts to blend photography and computation to create an end project that is both creative and play with the possibilities of technology. [MIT]
Special Topics: Computational Camera and Photography: Check out this course to learn more about technologies like thermal cameras, multi-spectral cameras, high-speed, and 3D range-sensing cameras and camera arrays. [MIT]

Life Science and Health

Visit these course sites to learn more about the ways that science and health care have evolved and find out more about recent technological and scientific breakthroughs.
The DNA Damage Response as a Target for Anti-Cancer Therapy: Cellular responses to DNA damage constitute one of the most important fields in cancer biology and you’ll learn about the latest developments from this course. [MIT]
The Fountain of Life: From Dolly to Customized Embryonic Stem Cells: Learn about the field of genetic engineering from this course dealing with cloning, genetic selection and more. [MIT]
Biological Computing: At the Crossroads of Engineering and Science: If you’re interested in learning about ways in which biological solutions can be found to solve problems in computing take a look at this course. [MIT]
Genomics, Computing, Economics, and Society: Take this course to learn all about the intersection between genetics, technology and popular culture. [MIT]
Principles and Practice of Tissue Engineering: Learn about regenerative medicine through this Harvard medicine taught course. [MIT]
Noninvasive Imaging in Biology and Medicine: Through this course you can learn about methods of looking into the human body ranging from the traditional x-ray to the new optical imaging. [MIT]
Biomedical Information Technology: Check out this course to learn about the newest organizational and technological tools used in tracking biological and medical data. [MIT]
Information Technology in the Health Care System of the Future: Learn ways that information technology can improve medical care through this course focused on the future of the health care system. [MIT]
Neurology, Neuropsychology, and Neurobiology of Aging: We know a lot more about the clinical, behavioral, and molecular aspects of the brain aging processes today than before, but as this course discusses there’s still a lot more to discover. [MIT]
Systems Biology: Take the time to go through the lessons in this course to learn about the mathematical modeling techniques needed to address key issues in modern biology. [MIT]

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