When the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offered its first free online course this spring, Ashwith Rego jumped at the chance to learn from some of the world's leading researchers – without leaving his home in India.
"I never imagined that I would be taught by professors from MIT, let alone for free," said the 24-year-old engineer who works in Bangalore.
From Harvard to Stanford, a growing number of elite universities are throwing open their digital doors to the masses. They're offering their most popular courses online for no charge, allowing anyone with an Internet connection to learn from world-renowned scholars and scientists.
Many colleges have offered Web-based courses for years, but the participation of top-tier research universities marks a major milestone in the expansion of digital learning.