Free information technology courses are found through a variety of sources including OpenCourseWare, podcasts and online resources. Evaluate your needs and goals before committing the time to an information technology course. If you need an overview of Microsoft Word, a class at your local YMCA may be sufficient. MIT's OpenCourseWare teaches you all you need to know about Java or C++.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the OpenCourseWare project in April 2001. It has grown to include numerous colleges, several languages and thousands of courses. OpenCourseWare allows you to study information technology using course materials from colleges such as MIT, Seoul National University of Technology and New Jersey Institute of Technology. You may access the same lectures, handouts and tests that students enrolled in college classes have, but you are not an enrolled student and will not receive college credit.
The Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) says that it is a "free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty, staff and students of higher education from around the world to share ... learning materials and pedagogy." It is an individual driven organization, rather than institutionally focused. Offerings include Cisco's tutorial on switches, data communications, TCP/IP and IPX routing tutorial, connecting LAN interface cards to a network, and hundreds of other tutorials and course materials. MERLOT houses practice quizzes and tests, reference information, simulations, open textbooks, presentations and more. Much of the material is peer-reviewed.
Additional Online Learning
Information technology courses are available online through different sources. BBC Learning offers free courses and exams on all aspects of IT, including hardware, software, networking, databases and data communications. Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online (ALISON) carries a library of non-accredited certificate and diploma courses. The British Open University avails its classes to the general population. Manufacturers' websites, such as Hewlett Packard's, often offer free courses ranging from Linux to networking to wireless safety.
Download podcasts to continue learning on your smart phone or MP3 player. You can find podcasts from a variety of sources including Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle. Podcast Directory, iTunes University and the Podcast website carry information technology podcast courses that both enhance and supplement your education. Listening to a podcast turns those unavoidable delays like commuting or waiting at the doctor's office into educational experiences.