50 Useful Open Courseware Links for Private Eyes & Digital Snoops

Whether you’re a detective or a wannabe cyber security expert, there are all kinds of educational resources available online that will help you learn about data and network systems, computer vulnerabilities, the culture of information technology, and even the psychology of criminals. These open courseware links will connect you to engaging lectures, reading assignments and outlines from some of the top universities in the country, and it’s all for free.

Data and IT

Understand the design of data and network systems and information technology structures before attempting to monitor or troubleshoot any vulnerabilities.

  1. An Introduction to Data and Information: Learn how data is stored and shared on computers and online. [The Open University]
  2. ICTs in everyday life: Learn about networks and how everyone online is seemingly connected in this course. [The Open University]
  3. Principles of Wireless Communications: Understand the make-up of wireless systems before trying to decode it. [MIT]
  4. Pervasive Human Centric Computing: Here, students have the opportunity to learn about the programs and systems of GPS, iPhones and more. [MIT]
  5. Representing and manipulating data in computers: Here you will learn about representing numbers, representing images, representing sound and more. [The Open University]
  6. Computer Networks: Discover the vulnerabilities of network design in this course. [MIT]
  7. The Database Development Life Cycle: Become an expert at manipulating, creating, troubleshooting and maintaining databases. [The Open University]
  8. Data and Processes in Computing: Learn about different types of data and data structures in this course. [The Open University]

Technology and Society

By gaining insight into how humans interact with technology, you’ll be able to anticipate criminal behavior or at least be able to understand your cases a little bit better.

  1. Technology in American Society: Understand how technology systems have helped American culture and American business prosper and fail. [MIT]
  2. Social Theory and Analysis: This course covers social theory from the 19th century to the present and wonders how and why social institutions respond to technology. [MIT]
  3. Technology and Gender in American History: Learn how men and women respond differently to technology in this course. [MIT]
  4. Social and Political Implications of Technology: This course uncovers "how technological devices, structures, and systems influence the organization of society and the behavior of its members." [MIT]
  5. Race and Science: Consider how race and identity have changed over time, especially in response to new inequalities in technology. [MIT]

U.S. Law and Policy

Make sure you’re well versed in the law, especially as it relates to privacy and technology, before doing something illegal yourself.

  1. Law and Society: Here you will be challenged to discover law as a social institution and as a feature of pop culture, as well as how society relates to law in all aspects of everyday life. [MIT]
  2. Justice: In Justice, students consider "the place of values of liberty and equality in" a just society. [MIT]
  3. The Supreme Court, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: Study constitutional law, race relations and Americans’ right to the protection of their civil liberties here. [MIT]
  4. Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier: Learn about the relationships between law, ethics and technology. [MIT]
  5. American National Security Policy: Make sure you understand the ins and outs of American national security policy, including how threats are interpreted and whether or not allegiances with other countries should be pursued. [MIT]
  6. Reading Seminar in Social Science: Intelligence and National Security: Learn about counterintelligence, the relationship between U.S. intelligence organizations and national security offices, and more. [MIT]
  7. Ethics Part I and Ethics Part II: This course addresses the history of ethics, as well as moral behavior and modern theories. [Western Governors University]
  8. Introduction to Copyright Law: Learn all about copyright law here, if property and copyright are what you’re snooping for. [MIT]
  9. U.S. Social Policy: Try to gain a sense of how and why some social policies and citizens are favored and why others are completely abandoned in this course. [MIT]
  10. Property Rights in Transition: Property rights is a complex issue, and this course can help you understand the intricacies of all types of property rights. [MIT]

Sociology and Criminal Psychology

Learn about crime psychology and general sociology to gain an edge over your perpetrator.

  1. Ambient Intelligence: Better understand how humans react to computers and intelligent interfaces everyday. [MIT]
  2. Identity and Difference: Consider the idea of identity, including how it is formed and how it evolves [MIT]
  3. American Dream: Exploring Class in the U.S.: Use your understanding of social class psychology when tracking a case. [MIT]
  4. Culture, Embodiment and the Senses: This class may help you to determine a person’s ability to choose between right and wrong. [MIT]
  5. Ethnic and National Identity: Explore the factors that shape national identity and ethnic or racial identity. [MIT]
  6. Social Psychology: Self and Society: Lessons in this course include Conformity, Stereotypes, and Roles and Identity. [UC Berkeley]
  7. Making and using rules: Consider practical application and psychological response to rules in this course. [The Open University]
  8. Introduction to Psychology: The basics of psychology are taught in this class, including consciousness, self and society, cognitive behaviors and more. [MIT]
  9. Technology and Culture: Discover the relationship between technology and culture in all types of historical and social environments. [MIT]
  10. Gender, Sexuality and Society: This course explores sexual identity and gender roles. [MIT]

Terrorism and Public Safety

These public safety courses will prepare you for major cases.

  1. Terrorism, Peace and Other Inconsistencies: This course asks students to question the rationale for contemporary terrorism and the relationship between al-Qaeda terror philosophies and the general conflicts between the Middle East and the Western world. [Notre Dame]
  2. Case Studies in Terrorism Response: As a cyberterrorism detective, you probably won’t be a first responder in a terrorism scare, but you will still learn valuable skills in anticipating terrorism scenarios and handling evidence immediately after an attack. [Johns Hopkins]

Miscellaneous Law

For more law-related issues regarding technology, turn here.

  1. Privacy rights and the law: This class is taught with a UK slant, but it still poses interesting questions about privacy rights. [The Open University]
  2. Company Law in Context: Consider how business laws and business organizations can be unclear to employees. [The Open University]
  3. Introduction to Security: Learn the fundamentals of security, loss control and crime prevention. [Weber State University]
  4. Ethical Practice: Professionalism, Social Responsibility and the Purpose of the Corporation: If you’re investigating a business or organization, take this course to understand their ethical standards. [MIT]
  5. International Law: In cases that span countries, use this class as a reference point to learn about human rights, international resource management, the European Union and more. [Professional Educational Organization International]

Computer Science and Information Security

This list will help you understand the basics of computer science, cryptography, digital worlds and information security.

  1. Computers and computer systems: This introductory computer science class will teach you about processors, memory, digital cameras and representing data on a computer. [The Open University]
  2. Crossing the boundary — analogue universe, digital worlds: Understand what divides our analogue world versus "the binary world of digital entities." Lessons include "The pervasive computer" and "Manipulation." [The Open University]
  3. An introduction to information security: This course introduces students to the concepts and practices of information security. [The Open University]
  4. Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs: Students will learn the basics of computer structures and computer programming here. [MIT]
  5. Computation Structures: This course teaches the fundamentals of software and hardware design. [MIT]
  6. Network Security: Here you will learn the terminology, abbreviations and security measures related to protecting networks. [The Open University]
  7. Advanced Topics on Cryptography: Practice zero-knowledge proofs of knowledge, non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs and other types of proofs in this course, which also teaches two-party secure computation and other concepts. [MIT]
  8. Cryptography and Cryptanalysis: Students get introduced to modern cryptography and encryption in this course. [MIT]
  9. Principles of Digital Communications I: Understand the differences and relationships between different digital communications systems in this course. [MIT]
  10. Reflections on Secret Intelligence: Sir David Omand KCB offers up his thoughts on what now dictates cyberterrorism, homeland security, the future of intelligence, and more. [Gresham College].