50 Essential Free Open Courseware Classes for Web Designers

by admin on Nov 23, 2009

Web design is an increasingly important aspect of media and business. Because the Internet has become essential to the way we do business, find information and accomplish a number of other tasks, Web design truly is vital. And someone who understands Web design and can do a good job with it is valuable in a number of ways. If you are interested in improving your web design skills, here are 50 great open courseware classes for web designers:

Computers and Computing

3484270250_0786d08606Understanding computers and computing is your first order of business. Here are some open courseware classes that can help give you a handle on computers:

  1. Introduction to Computers: This course from the University of California Berkeley offers you the basics of computers and how they work.
  2. The Anthropology of Computing: MIT looks at the importance of computing and computer developments and how they influence our society.
  3. Computer Networks: Another MIT course, this class helps you learn about the global network infrastructure of the Internet, and offers basic design principles.
  4. Computers and computer systems: The Open University offers you a look at how computers and processors work, and how they affect us in every day life.
  5. Data Mining: MIT provides useful information about data mining and how it can be used.


An essential skill of the web designer is the ability to understand and use programming languages. Here are some helpful open courseware classes on computer programming.

  1. Basic HTML: The University of Washington presents a helpful course on HTML, which is one of the most important languages in web design.
  2. Programming Languages: Get an overview of different program languages and learn about Scheme+ especially.
  3. Java Programming: Sofia provides a look at using the programming Java.
  4. XML Foundations: Berkeley offers a course on the basics of XML.
  5. XML with Java: Learn how to combine XML with Java, and get a handle on JavaServer and XQuery from Harvard.
  6. Server-Side Web Development Distribution Lectures: Indiana University provides a helpful look at server-side programming.
  7. Flash: Learn how to use Flash in web design, and how to use ActionScript, from Utah State University.
  8. Introduction to Multimedia Programming: Monash University looks at the basics of using programming languages with multimedia.

Web Design

These web design classes can help you learn about how design works on the Internet, and how you can improve your skills.

  1. Web Design: Miami Dade College offers this course on web design and the principles behind creating online content.
  2. Software Engineering for Web Applications: ArsDigita University allows you to focus on software for web applications.
  3. Digital Typography: MIT offers this look at typography and how it functions as part of your web design.
  4. Creating Interactive Multimedia: The University of Southern Queensland provides a look at how you can design interactive web pages.
  5. Introduction to Web Design: Indiana University looks at the basics of web design and uses video to introduce you to a number of concepts.
  6. The Future of the Internet: Stanford University offers a look at where the Internet is going, and what to expect in the future.

Graphic Design and Visual Elements

Learn about creating graphics and images, as well as arranging other visual elements on web sites.

  1. Information Visualization: This course from the University of British Columbia helps you learn how to take information and then put it in an attractive visual form.
  2. Art of Color: Learn about how color works, and how you can use it in the visual arts, from MIT.
  3. Historical Foundations of Visual Technology: DePaul University offers a look at the history behind visual technology.
  4. Survey of 3-D Animation: Another offering from DePaul University, this course looks at the basics of using 3-D in web design.
  5. Algorithms for Computer Animation: MIT has another course for graphic designers — this one dealing with animation.
  6. Graphic Design Basics: This course from About U looks at the basics behind graphic design.


One of the essential skills of a web designer is to make things accessible and usable for a wide range of people. Here are some open courseware classes that can help you create web pages that are more user friendly.

  1. Designing the user interface: Get information on how text, sound, animation and other elements can be used to make a more accessible online experience from the Open University.
  2. People-centered Design: This is another course from the Open University that focuses on helping you understand how to design web sites for people.
  3. Human Computer Interaction: The University of Washington offers a class on the interaction between humans and computers, and how to make computer more accessible.
  4. Foundations of American Cyber-Culture: Get a handle on cyber-culture and how people use computers and the Internet in this class from the University of California Berkeley.
  5. Social Visualization: This MIT open courseware class focuses on social interactions online, and how you can make your web design more compatible with social media.
  6. User Interface Design and Implementation: Another MIT course, this class can help you learn about interface design and provide practical methods for implementing your vision.
  7. Advanced Internet and Web Services: This course from the University of Washington offers insight into how you can make web services and the Internet more useful to ordinary people. Includes information on search engines and how they work.

Content Development

You will need to know how to develop content and create interesting visual, video, audio and text. These courses can help you learn about content:

  1. Electronic Media: This basic course from Abilene Christian University offers a basic look at electronic media, and what people enjoy about it.
  2. Information Security: Part of good content development is helping it remain secure. This course from the University of Bristol can help you learn about keep information safe.
  3. Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readings: This MIT open courseware class helps you understand new media and the Internet in today’s culture.
  4. Communicating in Cyberspace: Another MIT course, this one looks at how to develop content that conveys what you want it to.
  5. Dynamic Content Development: Purdue offers a course on creating dynamic content that can help add interest to your web design.
  6. Blogs, Wikis, New Media for Learning: Get a handle on how to use blogs, wikis and other development online from Utah State University.
  7. Reading visual images: The Open University provides insight into how to make visuals part of your content.

eCommerce Design

More people are shopping online and making money online. You can use your knowledge to design web sites that are compatible with the new electronic economy.

  1. Economics and E-commerce: This course from MIT focuses on the economics of the Internet, and how things are changing.
  2. An introduction to e-commerce and distributed applications: The Open University offers insight into e-commerce and the applications that go with it.
  3. Transaction Processing for E-Commerce: Learn about how transactions are processed online in this course from the University of Washington.
  4. A new era?: Another offering from the Open University, this course looks at innovation in ecommerce.
  5. Search Engines: Technology, Society and Business: This Berkeley course emphasizes the role search engines play in society and business transactions online.

Electronic Law and Ethics

Get a handle on the rules behind web design, content and what goes on over the Internet.

  1. Ethics and Law on the Electronic Frontier: This course from MIT looks at how ethics and law apply online.
  2. Introduction to Copyright Law: Another MIT course that can help you understand some of the fundamental issues associated with Internet content.
  3. Communications and Information Policy: MIT offers a look at policy online and information that goes with it.
  4. Online Media Law: This class from News University provides helpful information on the basics of online media law.
  5. A Fair(y) Use Tale: This video presentation from Novell is short and to the point — and it teaches about fair use law.
  6. Introduction to Ethical Decisions Making: News University offers another class on ethics and how to make good decisions with online content.

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