FREE ONLINE COURSES: TOP 20 SITES TO GET EDUCATED FOR FREE
1. UMass Boston Open Courseware
The UMass courseware offers a broad range of classes in areas like psychology, biology, early education, political science, history, mathematics, and others. Each department has a separate page listing the classes available. Along the side, you are given your syllabus, assignments, a professor bio, and recommended reading.
There are no slides, videos, or lecture notes, which makes this open courseware inferior to other universities that offer extensive resources.
2. Khan Academy
This website has a variety of video lessons for free. The course subjects are broken down into particular lessons, which is great for students who are looking to learn one principle without taking an entire course. For example, the biology subject has separate videos for evolution, photosynthesis, genetics, and others.
If you prefer reading to watching, this site may not be for you as the lessons are all video based.
3. MIT Open Courseware
For those looking for courses that will test even the brightest student, MIT is sure not to disappoint. You can download all the course material, which is nearly identical to the course taught at MIT (it even gives you the year and semester it was taught). Since it is an on-demand course, you don’t have any ability to connect with others who are taking it. It is simply an independent study for you to study on your own.
This site is a bit difficult to navigate, as it is not as well designed as other open courseware websites. Similar to most databases, you search through the subjects and categories until you find the class you want to take. One advantage to Free-ed? When you find a class you like, there is the option to click on networking. It will notify you if there are Facebook groups or other online groups you can join that have individuals taking the course you are interested in.
5. Learning Space: The Open University
This website offers downloadable free online courses in lots of different categories like youth and children, languages, business, engineering, and others. When you look through the coursework, you can view them according to rating. Other users can rate the class, which may help you in deciding what course to take. The main page does warn that there is a new site design coming in the fall of 2012, so there may be changes soon.
6. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
This website is well designed with ample content to explain how Carnegie Mellon’s OLI works. Unfortunately, you cannot view the course without creating an account. The tagline right above the courses says, “No instructor, no credits, no charge.” Like so many other free courseware, it is an individual study.
7. Tufts Open Courseware
Tufts makes it clear from the start that their free online courses are not the same as the ones taught in the classroom. It is up to the professor’s discretion what is posted for free and common use. You don’t need a login ID to view the material, and the professors’ lectures are available as slides. Since there is not any more explanation beyond the slides, it may require you to dig deeper in your own research to understand the whole lecture.
8. Stanford on iTunes U
Stanford on iTunes U gives you two options. You can either subscribe to the updated video lectures, or simply download the one you’d like to watch. In order to participate in this course, you do need to have an iTunes account and software.
9. Utah State Open Courseware
These free online courses are easy to access and find with quick browsing. Each class lecture is offered as an MP3 file with an html document that outlines the assignment. This is a bare bones program, as the assignments are simply exams to test your knowledge of the material.
10. Kutztown On-Demand Online Learning
The Kutztown On-Demand program is focused mainly on business. You must fill out a brief survey before you can access the course, but the material is organized nicely, with small video clips for each topic. You can stop and start as you need to since it is broken down into small pieces. Aside from the slides, there aren’t any other materials to test your acquisition of knowledge.
11. USQ Australia Open Courseware
USQ’s courseware is limited with only ten different free online courses offered, mostly in technology. The modules are laid out right online with lecture notes and testing assignments. Unfortunately, there is no way to network with any other students enrolled in the courses.
12. University of California Irvine Courseware
The Irvine Courseware offers a variety of classes in different subjects. Unlike other open courseware programs, Irvine does offer a link to information about getting academic credit for some of the courses offered. All the information for the course automatically downloads as a Word documents when you click on the links.
This website offers an array of free online courses from different universities. The main difference between EdX and other online courses is that the class is a specific length and duration. When you sign up, you are committing to the class time and assignments. You can register for classes offered by Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, and other prestigious schools. If you are looking for a class you can do on your own time, this isn’t the website for you. The classes here are similar to paid online learning classes.
This is one of the largest website databases for University open courseware. Like EdX, these courses are at a set time (usually lasting for 10-14 weeks). You can access classes from 16 different Universities’ including Princeton, Duke, Stanford, and CalTech. With over 1,000,000 users, Coursera has established itself as the central “go-to” website for free online University learning.
Udemy is an online institution that offers courses taught by leading experts. You can choose from classes on developing products for Facebook, SQL databases, Photoshop, Music Theory, Business, and many others. Udemy also allows everyday experts to create their own class, so you will have to be selective about the courses you want to take as anyone can create a course. There is a bio about each instructor, along with an Amazon-like review area for users to rate the course and give their opinions about the class work.
16. Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a free online K-12 curriculum for homeschoolers and other children in non-traditional classroom settings. This academy relies heavily on parent involvement with a stated, 96% satisfaction percentage. Each lesson has an overview, a lesson, review, and assessment. There are tools, textbooks, and other resources to bolster the student’s educational experience.
This free online K-12 curriculum is offered by state. Currently, only 33 states offer the program. If your state participates, a list will come up of academies that your student can enroll in. K-12 is a network of schools offering education. It is not an independent curriculum developer. There are also private schools that network with K-12, but there are tuition costs.
18. GED for Free
GED for Free is a basic online course offered to students who have not been able to complete high school and need to get their GED. You simply fill out a student profile and begin studying. This site is only designed to teach the students the concepts that will be tested on the GED exam. There are no advanced courses or enrichment activities.
19. Free World U
This is a free online k-12 learning system that specializes in flashcards as a way to test the acquisition of skills. The school is free but if you want an accredited program, which comes with tests, certificates, etc., you will need to pay a monthly fee. Without registering, you aren’t able to see much about their curriculum, so it is a bit difficult to navigate.
This website is a database, listing classes by topic. For each class, there is a sidebar that tells you what school offers it, how many students took it, and the instructor. Unfortunately, the class material only comes in a video lecture format. There are no assignments or other materials.