Universities the world over are shedding the image of the stuffy institution whose quality education is the sole privilege of the lucky few. In doing so, they have created one of the greatest life hacks ever: Massive Open Online Courses.
More than 800 institutes of higher learning in Sweden and in many other countries have created short, self-paced courses on an incredible variety of subjects. Most of the self-paced courses are free, although if any are certificate courses, the certificates must be paid for.
Few doubted the potential of the Internet for education when it first impacted the world in the mid-1990s. While it has been used effectively since then, the growing number of online free university courses is arguably one of the greatest realisations of that potential thus far.
Paths to Self-Improvement
Education is a key that can open many doors to amazing opportunities. However, in many places, cost, distance, limited space, and stringent entrance requirements ensured university-standard learning was accessible to a relatively small number of lucky students.
The free courses offered online by various institutes are not going to see degrees or doctorates conferred on those who complete them successfully, but that is not the point. Many are immensely practical, especially those offered by faculties of business and information technology. They offer enough information to be put to effective use – and who knows where that may lead?
Much like spending some time mastering blackjack strategy could have life-changing results, a few hours spent on a free university course for a few weeks could alter the trajectory of a person’s life.
Real Courses, Real Education
Free university courses online made their first appearance more than five years ago, and the trend is gaining momentum. As it does so, more and more educational institutions are getting involved.
Among the respected institutions that offer the courses are the universities of Mid Sweden, London, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Beijing, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Geneva, Melbourne, Paris-Saclay, Columbia, Copenhagen, and Barcelona, as well as the Museum of Modern Art, Berklee College of Music, and the Indian Institute of Technology. The courses may be short, but they are of good quality. There is not a doctorate in metaphysics from an unaccredited university in sight.
Among those announced as recently as the end of last year are Stanford University’s Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Accessible Gamification for Business, University of Michigan’s Building Web Applications in PHP, University of London International Programme’s Making Your First Virtual Reality Game, Rochester Institute of Technology’s Video Game Design: Teamwork and Collaboration, Kyoto University’s More Fun with Prime Numbers, Harvard University’s the Climate-Energy Challenge, and the University of Copenhagen’s After the Arab Spring – Democratic Aspirations and State Failure.
Where to Find Courses
Cost-free courses online from higher-learning institutions can be found in various ways. Those with any to offer list them on their websites, and there are dedicated sites that list courses offered by various universities, colleges, and schools.
Some of the sites most popular among Swedes who have discovered the benefits of learning online without paying a cent include Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, Academic Earth, Open Culture Online Courses, Alison, and edX.
Why Learn Online
Apart from the potential self-improvement, employment, business, or further studying opportunities that could result from learning online for free, there are other good reasons to consider taking full advantage of the life hack.
The courses are short and self-paced, they are relevant to today’s world, and they are designed to be as easily accessible to as many as possible. There are no great distances to travel, and there is no chance of sitting next to annoying students. Accessing quality-learning materials has possibly never been so convenient.