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I love to learn. I would be the person in college for the rest of my life if I could fit it in with everything else I do. So when I came across Harvard’s open classes, I was in heaven.

Several universities, many Ivy League, offer open classes that are free online and can be taken for no credit, but are taught by the actual professor of the university. Harvard has many to choose from, in all different schools, while other universities are somewhat limited.

Many classes are geared toward interests that wouldn’t necessarily relate to what we teach in our classrooms, but there are several that high school teachers could incorporate into their classes, a lot of them focusing on writing, poetry analysis, geography and computer science. Imagine being able to take this information back into our classrooms AND turn our students on to taking some of these courses themselves! What a great way to encourage college readiness!

I could also see this type of learning becoming available in a ‘book club’ format, where groups of teachers take a course and come together to discuss it and how it can be implemented into their classrooms. Talk about a productive PLC, where knowledge and methodology are actually gained.

And if nothing else, these courses could be utilized as great summer material, focusing on either personal interests (there are LOTS of religion courses being taught) or adding to individual lesson plans. It’s always good to get different perspectives on materials, especially when it comes from some of the top universities.

To find open classes, either search for whichever university you want to check into, such as ‘Stanford Open Classes’ or just do a general search for ‘university open classes’. These classes are offered through the university extension schools, and some of the classes are actually offered on campus if you live near the university. Harvard’s direct link is Once you find the university you are interested in, a menu will come up showing the university schools that are offering open classes with descriptions of the material. If you wanted to go a step further and print off this menu and include it with a class syllabus, think of how neat that would be to hand out to students during the first week of school. It would also allow parents to see what possibilities are available. The menus change according to the semester and most universities have already published their fall semester listing.

Since I do not teach junior high or high school students, I plan to take several courses this summer for my own benefit. There are some that are focused on the general state of our educational system in the United States and a few business classes that may help with my school management. I’m also interested in many of the religion classes that are being offered.

So whether you just enjoy learning for the sake of learning or you are looking to add a little extra something to your lesson plans, this could be very beneficial.

How could you use this opportunity in your classroom?

Open Class

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior....

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