Been thinking about doing a course online but can’t afford it or are too busy? Let MOOCs be your answer! These free online courses are accessible for those that want to further their education or want to learn a new skill. Here are our top picks for MOOC platforms.
The recent pandemic has left many businesses, routines and livelihoods up in the air as governments and states close borders and activity throughout the nation. While many people have been stood down or have had their jobs put on hold, they have found themselves stuck at home, bored and have no idea what to spend all this newfound time doing.
I’m sure that there are tasks you’ve been putting off that you’ve been meaning to do or some extra cleaning around the house that needs doing! However, have you thought about upskilling and learning something new? Before you roll your eyes and think that going back to school sounds like the worst possible idea… keep reading this article… we promise it’s worthwhile!
What are MOOCs?
The easiest way to learn a new skill or educate yourself these days is through MOOCs. You might be thinking… ‘What on earth are MOOCs?’ To put it simply, Massive Online Open Courses are free online learning initiatives that are accessible to anyone! Yes, that’s right! You can learn a multitude of topics, disciplines and ideas online for free, as long as you have a solid WiFi connection, a working device and a willingness to learn. MOOCs typically don’t award academic credit, so if you’re just looking to learn something new or don’t necessarily need accreditation, then MOOCs might be right up your alley.
Over the last few years, MOOCs have grown in popularity. There are a lot more online jobs and it’s increasingly more affordable to learn online as it is more accessible, convenient and flexible for each individual’s lifestyle or routine. What we’ve done is listed a few top MOOCs below that offer an array of courses and topics, suitable for anyone and… of course, are free!
FutureLearn is an initiative that encourages upskilling, learning and furthering your career. As of June 2020, the online education site, which collaborates with top universities around the world, has had 12.5 million users since its inception in 2012.
Some of the institutions involved include UNSW Sydney, University of Leeds, Johns Hopkins University, Keio University and Monash University.
They have free courses, free courses that include some paid upgrades, and even an ‘unlimited’ subscription which lets you have access to all their short courses and tests with the ability to print off digital certificates.
The free courses, however, are great for those that want content that can be learned over 2-4 weeks. With topics from ‘Learn to Code for the Web’ to ‘Digital Skills: User Experience’ to ‘Introduction to Sustainability and Development’, there’s a course for anyone and everyone. Depending on the course, you’ll have to commit 3-6 hours per week… which, instead of scrolling through Facebook or bingeing another Netflix series, sounds super doable!
Here is a list of their subjects:
- Business and Management
- Creative Arts and Media
- Nature and Environment
- Healthcare and Medicine
- Politics and Society
- Psychology and Mental Health
- IT and Computer Science
- Science, Engineering and Maths
- Study Skills
When you’re founded by Harvard and MIT, it’s easy to see why edX is a hot destination for online education. As a nonprofit removing barriers to global education, it’s an incredibly powerful collaboration that allows people to learn for free, from a bunch of top universities, in the comfort of your own home!
Although some edX courses and programs you need to pay for, there are some incredibly interesting ones that you can do at absolutely no cost to you! There are courses that are for beginners and more advanced options that require some prerequisites like a basic understanding of more complex topics like chemistry or anatomy… however, it’s all case by case so make sure you look into each course before you commit!
UQ offers a Global Media, War, and Technology course which is an incredibly interesting topic to explore in this current climate. MIT does a Cybersecurity for Critical Urban Infrastructure course that will intrigue anyone who wants to learn more about being prepared against cyberattacks and internet vulnerability. And Harvard University’s popular course CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science is teaching people about coding!
Each class has an easy to understand legend which helps you determine whether or not the course if for you. The courses each have a duration period indicator, effort level, price point (which is free unless you add a verified certificate for a certain amount depending on each course), the institution the course is in conjunction with, the subject, level, language, language of the video transcript and the course type.
Now, say you did enjoy the free courses and perhaps you’ve exhausted all your options, edX also offers paid programs and even Masters Degrees if you want to amp up your learning and invest in a certificate! The world is your oyster!
With 198 courses (as of mid-2020), Udacity has an incredibly huge range of free learning resources available to anyone online. With a mantra of ‘Students First’, Udacity makes you feel truly valued by fostering a community of teachers and learners who are passionate about education and reaching your dream career.
This MOOC is quite data and tech-heavy so if you’re looking for a digital career, then this is the platform for you. There are plenty of artificial intelligence-based courses, content that will help you become an expert coder and business tools to enhance your management strategies.
Udacity also offers great preview sample lessons and enables you to download the syllabus to see whether or not the course will be something you will enjoy.
Many of the Udacity courses run for 1-3 months, depending on which one you choose. The ‘Interactive 3D Graphics’ course, for example, teaches the fundamental principles of 3D graphics through quizzes, exercises and quality content by industry professionals. Whether or not you want to just do the course on its own or progress and do a nanodegree in ‘Introduction to Programming’ (which does cost money), it’s entirely up to you!
How MOOCs can benefit you
MOOCs are a fantastic way for those who might not necessarily have access to quality campuses nearby but still want to educate themselves and work towards a career in a field they are passionate about.
Particularly if it’s a difficult topic or something that you have no idea where to start, a MOOC can let you ‘try before you buy’ or decide to commit to a paid course or even an on-campus experience.
MOOCs are also hugely popular due to its flexible online nature. Being able to squeeze in study around regular work hours or even to keep your mind active on the weekend, MOOCs allow you to work when you want to and encourage self-motivation without any penalties.
Another reason MOOCs are causing a buzz right now is that they are being backed by in leading world universities and institutions who want to see education being offered affordably. Not only does it foster a community of eager learners, but it also allows individuals to expand their global network and learn from people across the world.
The ball’s in your court
If you’ve made it to the end of this article – then, congratulations! It’s clear you have the drive and motivation to take the next step and consider learning online. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, it might be worth doing some research on some of the sites mentioned above. In any case, undertaking any digital course requires a solid internet connection and something to learn on! While free online courses are accessible, reliable and course-compatible technology sometimes aren’t. At The Computer Market, we have a wide array of refurbished, second-hand and ex-lease laptops and desktops ready to be purchased and put to good use! Our IT solutions are affordable and a great option if you’re needing a new device to kickstart your career or fill your time doing something productive! Contact the team at The Computer Market to find out more.