It is no secret that you can get a university-level education for free on the internet. But where do you begin? How do you pick the right courses? It’s simpler than you think.
Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) are a big thing now. Renowned universities like Harvard, MIT, Yale, and others offer entire courses for free. In fact, you could mix-and-match to get an education that wouldn’t be available in any one university.
How do you start with all this? Don’t just go to Harvard’s site and start digging around. There’s a better way.
1. MoocLab (Web): Your Guide and “Classroom”
As great as online courses are, they miss one crucial aspect of the learning experience: the classroom. MoocLab is both a place to get you started and to build a community.
It’s full of resources and tips to help you pick the right course depending on what you want to study. Its list and reviews of online degree providers is especially handy if you want certification at the end of the course. And anyone getting started should read MoocLab’s beginner’s guide ebook.
As the premier forum for online learning, MoocLab puts a heavy emphasis on finding a study buddy or a study group. Become a part of the community, participate in the forums, and you’ll get that classroom feel you wanted.
2. Course Buffet (Web): Organized Directory of All Courses
Course Buffet is an aggregator of the many online courses available online. In fact, it claims to be the most organized catalog of these courses, and after looking at the others, I can’t disagree.
You’ll get courses from universities as well as online video educators like Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, and others. Clearly divided by subject, university, or course provider, you will quickly find what’s available.
The site’s main feature is the “Buffet”, where you add courses of interest. This will track your progress and even give you notifications when you haven’t attended a class for some time. If simplicity is what you want, this is where to start.
3. MOOC-List (Web): The Best MOOC Search Engine [No Longer Available]
The first thing you’ll notice with a lot of online courses is that the lecture series has completed. You are browsing the archives, but not actually participating with others. MOOC-List is a good place to find out what’s coming up next.
In a nutshell, this is an advanced search engine for upcoming courses, letting you search by course title, category, university or provider, language, and rating. If that’s a lot, check out the multiple criteria search, which lets you filter by options you never would have thought of.
For regular updates, subscribe to the MOOC Daily List Paper. It’ll be one of those newsletters to learn something new regularly.
4. VideoNot.es (Web): The Best Note-Taking App for MOOCs
Taking notes is an essential part of the learning experience. But when your screen is taken up by a video on it, things get a little more complicated. VideoNot.es is the best note-taking app made for online lectures.
The web app works with YouTube, Khan Academy, Udacity, Coursera, EdX, and Vimeo. Connect it to your Google Drive, copy-paste the URL of the video and you’re ready to go. Your notes are automatically saved in Google Drive.
Whenever you write a sentence, the app will timestamp it. While revising later, click the sentence to immediately transport to that part of the video.
You can also share your notes with your study group via Google Drive. Simple, eh? Read our detailed VideoNot.es review if you want to know more.
5. BriefTube (Chrome): Auto-Generate a Table of Contents for Videos
Many of the online lectures are hosted on YouTube. BriefTube smartly creates a Table of Contents for the video you are watching, so you can skip to the relevant section instantly.
The extension also includes a simple search function for the transcript. Search for any word in the video and you can instantly move to that time stamp. The professor might be mid-sentence though, so remember, you can use the Ctrl + Left arrow YouTube keyboard shortcut to rewind 10 seconds.
BriefTube isn’t free though, so try BriefTube out and see if you like it. It’s well worth the cost if you’re planning to learn more online.
Download: BriefTube for Chrome (Free)
What’s Your Best Tip for MOOC Beginners?
These sites should get you started with learning on MOOCs. If you still need help, read our guide to navigating the free online educational world.
Have you taken any MOOC course? What do you wish you knew before you started?