The Internet and increased usage of new media technology has brought many innovations to the field of education in the 21st century. Many course materials by leading universities are being offered online and very often – for free. This has enabled more effective distance learning – “linking of a teacher and students in several geographic locations via technology that allows for interaction” (Daniel and Stevens, 1998, p.162). In this post I will present 5 of the most popular websites that offer full or partial courses and course materials – suitable for distance education and self-studying. The video featured at the end is a TED talk by Daphne Koller – co-founder of Coursera, who speaks about the benefits of online education.
Coursera is an educational technology platform that provides free courses from 108 partner institutions. Everyone with access to the Internet can sign up on their website and enrol in any course they wish. The founders’ vision is to help people from all around the world have the possibility to access highest-quality education, in order to be able to improve their lives. The number of registered users is currently over 7.5 million and they have choice to learn from 643 courses delivered by top universities. There are many categories to choose from – arts, sciences, business, IT, law, and classes exist in 14 languages. Because of the large numbers of students, assignments are reviewed by peers and can be discussed on forums – in that way ‘students’ are able to meet new people from different backgrounds and establish friendships.
edX is another online platform cofounded by Harvard and MIT, which offers many classes from the world’s best higher institutions. It offers over 400 faculty and staff teaching courses (with discussions online) and over 150 self-paced courses in areas of the humanities, sciences, arts and many more. edX also has tools, videos and game-like labs – i.e., people can build virtual 3D molecules. The self-paced courses are open at any time and at the end of a successfully finished series of classes, users earn a Certificate of Achievement. With peer-to-peer social learning tools persons can connect with others as well.
Udacity offers more practical approach to their courses. They are taught by industry leaders from successful companies – i.e., Google, Facebook, Nvidia, at&t. The courses are specifically from the field of computer science. Users have personal coaches which help them throughout their studies and give them feedback on projects. The certificate received upon completion of a course is recognised by the industry. However, they are not free – prices for having a personal coach and receive a recognised certificate start from 150$ a month.
MIT Open Courseware
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers virtually all of its course materials online, featured on the MIT Open Courseware – its web-based publication. While it is different from the three above mentioned platforms, it still provides content for free and it is available to anyone. They store resources of more than 2150 courses, which every person can access. Students from the university also benefit from the Courseware, as it delivers additional information for them as well.
Stanford University’s online platform delivers part of its courses for free, for anyone to join and learn from them. They have both session classes, which run for a specific time, and self-study routes. They have many courses in medicine and health, engineering, education, humanities and more. Again, students from the university are also welcome to join and expand their knowledge on preferred subjects.
Daniel, J., and Stevens, A., 1998. The success stories: The use of technology in ‘out-of-school’ education. In C. de M. Moura Castro (Ed.), Education in the information age (pp.156-167). New York: Inter-American Development bank
All information on the platforms is taken directly from their websites