Movies, TV shows and podcasts have been readily available online for years, and as syndicating content becomes even easier, internet users can get even almost anything online – but full college courses?

That’s the goal of Academic Earth, an online hub featuring full video lectures and entire courses from some of the nation’s top schools. The idea grew out of a smaller project at MIT that helped out Academic Earth’s CEO and founder Richard Ludlow when he was struggling with a linear algebra class at Yale his junior year.

Since graduating in 2007, Ludlow has merged the best of the MIT program with a site developed at Yale,, into a vast online directory of academic resources. Besides working with MIT and Yale, Academic Earth partners with Stanford, Berkeley , Princeton and Harvard.

The site, now in Beta version, is expected to launch by the beginning of April with an onslaught of new features being added over the next six months, said Ludlow.

Outside of including several schools, Academic Earth’s biggest challenge will be utilizing user feedback and interaction to take their product one step further than programs already available. The small but growing team at the New York-based company is developing a social network around their content, where users can interact with professors and other students, make suggestions and complaints, and organize their own course load. Ludlow has already used user feedback for ways to make the site more user-friendly.

“A big step that we’re taking is segmenting these lectures into shorter clips,” Ludlow said. “I see this as a video encyclopedia.”

Ludlow also hopes to see an expansion in partnering schools, subject matter and international connections. Many schools have video lecture content, he said, but are not licensing their content in creative commons, which would make it available for free for non-commercial purposes. Ludlow is hoping the attention to his site, which had 100,000 visitors in the first 16 days, will convince Universities to include their content and to expand the subject matter.

“As our site gains notoriety, (universities) will see which subjects are lacking,” he said. Ludlow hopes to include content from several schools in the United Kingdom and encourage other international universities to partner with Academic Earth on providing foreign language content.

Down the line, Academic Earth even plans on packaging information in DVDs so those without internet access can still gain from their product.

Users can access lectures and courses from a range of subjects – mostly sciences, for the time being – and rate lectures and professors. Despite the site providing full course information, Ludlow isn’t worried that students will opt for online versions of in-person lectures.

“There will always be some value in the in-person experience that you have in college,” Ludlow said, comparing the lecture videos to text books. “Just delivering information can be commoditized. This actually opens up the door for teachers to use more information.”