The path of learning is long and “costly”. Perhaps, that’s why we believe this too much and give up as soon as regular paychecks start hitting our accounts. But in today’s age, staying skilled and flexible is the mantra. You never know when the new kid in the next cubicle makes you redundant. It could be some new technology too. Scary thought isn’t it. The good thing about it is that it doesn’t have to like this. You can learn new skills, thanks to the same technological age that’s casting a shadow on your prowess.
Today, if you can just motivate yourself to self-learn, there are many ways to reach the promised land of knowledge. Free education is all around us. First, you have to get rid of the mind-paralyzing thought that you can’t do it alone. Second, you have to pick up your choice of course and stick with it to the finish. I can’t help you with the first. For the second, try out these three educational search engines which let you search the web for online courses.
OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities. It also means free education from some of the best universities in the world. If you have a web connection, then these open educational resources are just a click away. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the name that’s invoked with respect and they were among the first pushers of sharing high academic knowledge and making it available worldwide without prejudice. Catch the entire list of participants.
A variety of courses are available. The Open Courseware Consortium has an advanced search page which you can use to sift through the courses and find the needles in that large educational haystack. How big? The search index currently contains 7,588 courses from 68 sources and 20 languages. It’s growing as more courses and member institutions join in. The search results give you a relevance score along with the course and its details.
Skilledup (beta) is trying to position itself as an educational search engine as well as a portal to “portals of wisdom” that is accessible on the web today. Searching for online courses with the help of the engine gives you free and paid courses and tutorials. Skilledup lists nearly 73,000 courses. Deals are advertised for some of the paid courses. You can use the search engine or browse through the courses by topic. If you go for either option, you can finetune your efforts with the checkboxes on the left which allow you to search for — among other things — live courses, massive online courses, talks and lectures, and open courses. You can also set it to display only free courses or any within specific price bands.
The site has also set up a lot of its content around Skill Hubs. Skilled Up seems to lean more towards technical courses but they are building up the other areas as well. Check out this exhaustive list of 850+ free courses as profiled on this site.
Skilledup earns from affiliate links. The FAQ says –
So when you decide you like a paid course, you might click on a link that is called an affiliate link. The maker of that course pays us a portion of the course fee if you end up signing up. We can use this money to add more courses and help bring experts to rate and compare the best courses online — all for you! We might also be able to buy some ramen noodles and maybe go see a movie sometime.
Redhoop is a new entrant in the educational search engine scene for courses. Like the ones above, Redhoop also takes you through the short cuts of educational course search. It taps into the massively online open courses offered by the biggies like Coursera, Udacity, and edX. Plus, the smaller but strong ones like Lynda.com and Khan Academy among others.
You can go through the catalog of courses or use the educational search engine on the homepage. Redhoop is very neat – without any ads — and at a glance you can tell the source of the course and the cost (if not free) associated with it. There are the filters on the left to help you along as well. One of the better ways to use this site would be to sign up for the “new course” email alerts.
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
I couldn’t find a better way to end this post. This single quote says it all. Lifelong learning has tremendous benefits, from opening up unforeseen opportunities to holding back mental deterioration that comes with age. Are you looking to educate yourself in some area? Which courses have you picked? Try these three ways to search online courses and tell us if it helped to take you to the fonts of knowledge.
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