Earlier this year, Johns Hopkins announced their partnership with online platform Coursera, which allows universities to host free classes online, complete with lectures, videos, notes, and readings. “It just got easier to get a free education,” Will Oremus writes in Slate. “These aren’t just videotaped lectures. They’re streamed in real-time, and they’re increasingly interactive… They include regular assignments and multiple-choice tests.” And now the University of Maryland is joining some of the other elite schools (including Caltech, UVA, Stanford, and Princeton) in offering free classes online, in subjects as diverse as quantum physics, startup formation, and the civil rights

According to the university, the four classes on offer were chosen to “include an eclectic mix intended to appeal to a diverse international audience.” They include:

  • Developing Innovative Ideas for Real Companies (January 28, 2013 – 6 weeks – estimated workload 5-7 hours/week), taught by James V. Green:  “Using proven content, methods, and models for new venture opportunity, students will learn how to analyze each part of a company and a customer development orientation to see if anyone really wants the product. Our goal is to demystify the startup process, and to help you build the skills to identify and act on innovative opportunities now, and in the future.”
  • Women and the Civil Rights Movement (February 25, 2013 – 12 weeks – estimated workload 8-10 hours/week), taught by Elsa Barkley Brown:  “This course examines the U.S. civil rights movement from the vantage point of women, considering women’s involvement in the legal campaigns, political protests and the impact of civil rights struggles on women’s status and identity. Taking a “long civil rights movement” perspective, we begin in the late nineteenth century and consider events, organizations, and personalities through the twentieth century.”
  • Exploring Quantum Physics (March 25, 2013 – 8 weeks – estimated workload 5-7 hours/week), taught by Victor M. Galitski and Charles W. Clark:  “Quantum physics is the foundation for much of modern technology, provides the framework for understanding light and matter from the subatomic to macroscopic domains, and makes possible the most precise measurements ever made.  More than just a theory, it offers a way of looking at the world that grows richer with experience and practice.  Our course provides some of that practice.  Our course will provide some of that practice and teach you “tricks of the trade” (not found in textbooks) that will enable you to solve quantum-mechanical problems and understand the subject at a deeper level.”
  • Software Defined Networking (February 4, 2013 – 6 weeks – estimated workload 6-8 hours/week), taught by Nick Feamster: “Recent trends in communications networking have made it possible to control the behavior of entire networks from a single, high-level software program. This course introduces “software defined networking (SDN),” an emerging paradigm in computer networking that allows a logically centralized software program to control the behavior of an entire network.”