Where To Study: Navigating The Free Online Education World
If you are interested in free education online, you’ve probably heard the big names: Coursera, Khan Academy, MIT, etc. But now that these learning avenues are commonplace, it also is bit of a nightmare to choose between them and decide which learning systems to use.
Top Universities Offering Free Education Online
Many universities offer access to their lectures publicly now, as it is a great way to showcase their courses and their generosity. MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, and Berkeley all offer a lot of great content online. However, due to many great partnerships with MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) sites, it doesn’t always make sense to study these lectures directly with the university.
As you can see, there are plenty of great universities offering free education online. The trick is not simply finding a university offering great content though, or even simply finding the right information, it’s also about finding the right method of studying for you.
Signing Up For Courses
Many people like to sign up to courses in a more traditional sense, sometimes with the goal of obtaining certificates. This option also makes it easy to study, as you have a go-to learning space, reminders of deadlines and a timeframe in which to study. The timeliness is a big drawcard for people who would otherwise leave their online studies for another day.
Coursera is one of the biggest names in the world of education. We have covered Coursera in detail previously, but they are by no means the only site to offer this service.
Australian site Open2Study offers free courses to anyone worldwide, with a huge range of topics available. You can study the content at your own pace and you have the option to complete assessments within a given timeframe in order to obtain a certificate. Open2Study works really well on browsers of all sizes, so you can go mobile. This site offers content from top Australian universities, making these universities accessible to anyone. You’re looking at two hours per week over four weeks for most of these courses. As of this writing, I don’t think any of these universities offer free courses via any other avenue.
FutureLearn is a new player, offering free courses from a variety of international universities , mostly from the UK. They have some really unique courses available, and have designed the site for you to use on any smartphone or browser. Most of these courses expect you to put in 2-3 hours per week over 6-8 weeks.
iVersity is a really new player in the MOOC scene, having just erupted in Europe. The course offering is a fascinating selection, with a little of something for everyone. What’s also interesting is that it has courses in German, probably with more European languages to come. This means that it will quickly become big news for Europeans wanting to learn online, but it also could be a great way to consolidate your language learning if you’re trying to learn a European language.
Also Check Out
If you are keen to earn a degree, and you are willing to pay a little, check out Open University and Open University Australia. If you’re willing to pay for short professional courses, something like Udemy might be more your style.
Casually Browsing & Learning Great Content
We’ve previously covered Khan Academy in an article about how to get a university level education for free . It’s true, this is a big name site with a lot of great courses on offer. They also make browsing for new knowledge a pleasant experience. Khan Academy lets you browse until you find a specific lecture you want to watch, then you can learn instantly. They also offer a great mobile app, making it easy to learn on the go.
While many sites have teamed up with top universities to offer a free way to learn, the way this site functions is a little different. Academic Earth offers video lecture lists from courses and makes them easy to access. They also offer an interesting playlist feature, where a curator has pieced together lectures from many different courses, based around an interesting theme. It’s really easy to navigate using your mobile browser, so you can learn on the go or while you are busy with another task.
iTunes University began as a collection of podcasts accessible through iTunes. As it is so easy to add content to the iTunes podcast directory, many great universities and schools have done so, making this a vast, interesting collection of lectures offered as audio or visual content. It’s still possible to browse iTunesU via the iTunes store, and there is an unbelievable amount of great content to learn. However, Apple also offers iTunesU as an app , meaning it is not only more accessible than ever before, but there is also a possibility of finding richer courses that offer reading material and assignments. In fact, they are actively marketing iTunesU as a way for educators worldwide to offer course material to their classes, thus improving the available lecture offerings.
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The list above will merely get you started. There are plenty more ways to find free educational lectures to learn from, such as TED, HowStuffWorks, BrightTalk, University Of Reddit, and more. Don’t limit yourself!
Education Search Engines
There are also many sites that just collect information on free education, allowing you to search easily for new subjects to study, such as the OEdb, OpenCulture, the Open Courseware Consortium, and more. If you want to find lectures on a specific subject, this is the best way to approach your search.
What’s Right For You?
As you can see, heading directly to a single university is not usually the best way to approach your online learning. Whether you search for specific content, use a certain ecosystem or app, or decide to sign up for courses is up to your judgement. However, it certainly does make it easier to find one or two favourite go-to places for your education needs.
What are your favourite sites for online education? Do you prefer to sign up for courses or take a more casual approach to learning? Why?