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Online Courses For Free (Books Additional)

Techstination feature for Monday, August 13, 2001

Taking online courses ... for free. Bloomberg Bootcamp, a report on today's technology. The days of finding really valuable free services on the Web are fading away. Cynics will say you get what you pay for. But that doesn't hold true with online course offerings from the Barnes and Noble Web site... .

"Well we have what I think is the largest free online university of any e-commerce company. We have over fifty free courses that are available every month and five or six new classes that are offered for the first time each month. It's not accredited learning, they're all courses... mostly for adults. Men and women who are looking to learn a new skill, whether it's programming or life improvement... astrology is really big right now on our site."

Twenty thousand people have signed up for that one according to Barnes and's VP for distance learning Len Gilbert. The courses last about a month. The advantage over taking a course at your local college is... you can log on whenever your schedule allows it. During lunch at work or after the kids go to bed at night. The site enrolled over three hundred thousand students over its first year. What's the catch? There always is one. In this case... .Barnes and Noble gets to sell you the books you need... and the courses are often taught by the authors...

"We do this because we sell a lot of books as a result and we measure every book that's sold through the university and we've been very happy with the sale of books."

Happy enough to have expanded the number of courses offered from thirty to over fifty. Bloomberg Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin.