Going to school in the comfort of home with the click of a mouse

By Lisa M. Krieger MCT

The best of college is now available, for free, without unpleasantries such as 8 a.m. classes, pop quizzes or term papers.

In a new deal with Google Video, the University of California-Berkeley is sharing with the public, via the Internet, dozens of videotaped seminars, speeches, special events and even entire courses taught by some of the campus’ leading professors.

“It’s click and play,” said Dan Mogulof, director of public affairs at the university.

Easy to view and accessible to everyone, the Web site offers more than 100 introductory-level lectures in subjects such as physics, biology, chemistry, information systems and bioengineering. Viewers can’t earn credit, but they don’t have to find a parking space either.

“We are a public university,” said Mogulof. “We have fabulous faculty and incredible events. We want to share the wealth across the state, country and world.”

Also online are a noontime poetry reading series, a debate over the politics of obesity, and speeches by luminaries such as economist Robert Reich, who proposed that a Massachusetts liberal will be the next president.

A growing number of universities are providing audio and video recordings of campus events. But at most schools, including Stanford and Santa Clara University, public access is limited to public lectures and sporting events. Complete course lectures are available only to registered students.

UC-Berkeley is the first campus to post entire course lectures online and the only school with its own page on the Web site of Google Video, a new, vast and often chaotic video marketplace that features everything from “I Love Lucy” reruns to amateur footage of car crashes and cats flushing toilets.

“We’re the first, but we expect others to follow suit,” said Obadiah Greenberg, who helped design the project with UC-Berkeley’s Educational Technology Services.