The democratization of education now has made it a life-long learning project for everybody, whether you are a working professional, retiree, a housewife, babysitter or a student. With the advent of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), everyone from any geographical background can access high-quality educational materials from the world’s most prestigious universities at little to no cost.
There are several well recognized online platforms that have partnered with educational institutions and companies to make available learning materials from Archeology to Zoology to help people across the globe acquire high-quality skills almost for free.
We have selected the top online learning platforms that are changing the learning status quo by making available thousands of courses online for those who are hungry to acquire new skills and knowledge. These include;
Founded by Harvard and MIT, edX is a global non-profit institution that seeks to remove three barriers of traditional education: cost, location, and access. edX has more than 20 million learners and 2,400 courses from a majority of the top-ranked universities in the world. Open edX is the open-source platform behind edX, and it’s open to educators and technologists who want to develop new educational tools. In addition to free courses, edX also offers courses for a fee. The platform has different certification pathways. These are;
- Professional Certification Program: These are a series of courses designed by industry leaders and top universities to build and enhance critical professional skills needed to succeed in today’s most in-demand fields. Top global universities such as Harvard, UC Berkely, UPenn, Linux Foundation, IBM, etc. provide courses in the professional certification series.
- MicroMasters Program: These are a series of graduate-level courses from top universities designed to advance people’s careers. They provide deep learning in a specific career field and are recognized by employers for their real job relevance. The MicroMasters Certificate bears academic credit and so students who complete a MicroMasters series may apply to the university offering credit for the MicroMasters program certificate and, if accepted, can pursue an accelerated and less expensive Master’s Degree. Some of the universities do not require GRE or GMAT from MicroMasters certificate holders. Harvard, UC Berkely, UPenn, MIT, Microsoft, Curtin University, IIMB, Boston University, etc. are some of the universities offering different courses in the MicroMasters program. To receive a MicroMasters certificate, students must complete all the courses in the series individually and receive a verified certificate for the individual courses. The cost for each course ranges between $49 and $500. Students from low-income backgrounds have the opportunity to apply for a financial aid which if approved will receive a 90% discount on the individual course charges. However, students can access the courses for free but will not receive any certificate at the end of the study and will not qualify for the MicroMasters certification.
- MicroBachelors Program: This was recently launched by edX to help adult learners looking to progress their career. The MicroBachelors certification carries college credit and so learners with or with no college experience can transfer their acquired credit to the University offering the course. The MicroBachelors programs are the only path to a Bachelor’s degree that make you job-ready today and credentialed along the way.
The platform has also partnered with some top Universities to offer 100% online Master’s degree programs.
Access edX at: www.edx.org
Coursera has more than 35 million learners, 150 university partners, 2,700 courses, 250 specializations, and four degrees.
In addition to free courses, Coursera offers courses generally ranging from $29 – $99. Specializations and degrees are priced higher. Course instructors include experts from the world’s top colleges and universities such as UPenn, Caltech, IBM, Stanford, Corneal, Duke University, Google, etc., and courses include recorded video lectures, community discussion forums, and both graded and peer-reviewed coursework.
Access Coursera at: https://www.coursera.com/
You can also receive a course certificate for each course you complete.
Coursera also has different learning tracks such as;
- Professional Certification Program: The Professional Certification program on Coursera helps students get job-ready for an in-demand career field in less than a year. Student earn a career credential, that allows them to apply their knowledge to hands-on projects that showcase their skills for employers and get access to career support resources. Many professional programs also provide a pathway to industry-recognized certification. The cost for the Professional certification programs starts at $39 per month. No financial aid is applicable in this learning track.
- Specialization Courses: This involves a series of courses that a student must complete in order to receive a Specialization certificate. Students are to pay for the individual courses in the specialization track to receive the individual course certificates and conclude the studies with a Capstone Project which will eventually lead to the attainment of the Specialization certificate. Each course costs $39 a month. Students from low-income backgrounds can also apply for financial aid. The Specialization courses do not carry university credit, but some universities may choose to accept Specialization Certificates for credit. Check with your institution to learn more.
- MasterTrack: Coursera’s MasterTrack program is similar to edX’s MicroMasters Program. They both carry college credit that students after completion can transfer to a college. With MasterTrack™ Certificates, portions of Master’s programs have been split into online modules, so you can earn a high quality university-issued career credential at a breakthrough price in a flexible, interactive format. Benefit from a deeply engaging learning experience with real-world projects and live, expert instruction. If you are accepted to the full Master’s program, your MasterTrack coursework counts towards your degree. There is no financial aid available for this learning track.The bundle cost for the various MasterTrack programs ranges between $1000 and $5000. The duration for completion is approximately six (6) months. The top universities providing the courses in this track include UPenn, UCDavis, HEC, Michigan University, Arizona State University, etc.
Udemy, a global education marketplace, has 30 million students, 100,000 courses in 50 languages, 42,000 instructors and 22 million minutes of video instruction. Unlike other online education platforms driven by content from colleges and universities, Udemy allows content creators to curate their own courses and teach them online.
Access Udemy at: https://www.udemy.com/
4. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a non-profit whose mission is “to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
Khan Academy is free for both learners and teachers, and offers lessons for students from kindergarten through early college, with topics including math, grammar, science, history, AP® exams, SAT® and more.
Khan Academy’s founding partners include, among others, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Ann & Jon Doerr, and Reed Hastings.
Access Khan Academy at: https://www.khanacademy.org/