Twelve UK universities are banding together in an endeavor called FutureLearn, with a mission to offer courses, worldwide, on the Internet—and you can partake of these courses. Your educational background does not matter. Such open courses—many of which already exist on the Internet--are called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). FutureLearn’s participating universities are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St. Andrews (Prince William’s alma mater!), Warwick...and UK’s Open University.
If you’re unfamiliar with the UK’s Open University: It was established in 1969 by Royal Charter and has been a world leader in distance learning and research. It features open enrollment, allowing anyone to take courses regardless of his or her previous academic record. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are awarded. Open University courses do, however, cost money—and the fees are indeed higher for US students. Worse, only a limited number of courses are even offered to US students.
Sooo…what is a stateside Anglophile with limited funds who wants to study at a UK university to do? (Or, for that matter, an Anglophile with little money anywhere in the world?) MOOCs, my friends. MOOCs. And there’s more than one source for MOOCs on the Internet. Here are some top sources:
1. FutureLearn Scheduled to begin instruction in the autumn of 2013, FutureLearn will offer free, online classes worldwide—however, some may have a fee of some sort, such as a fee for a certification or for taking an exam. I suspect, however, that fees will be relatively small.
To visit FutureLearn's website, click HERE
2. Coursera This consortium of 33 universities particularly wows me. Currently, from the UK, University of London and University of Edinburgh offer courses through Coursera. (Note: All the universities offering courses on Coursera are topnotch—e.g., Princeton, Columbia, Emory, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Wesleyan, Vanderbilt. Impressive, right?)
Coursera does not confer degrees; it offers only individual courses. But many of these courses can advance careers and improve lives. Students advance at their own pace, have interactive exercises, get tested, and join a global community of fellow students. Coursera is completely free and open to all, worldwide.
To visit Coursera's website, click HERE
3. Khan Academy Okay, the Khan Academy, founded by Salman Khan, a Bangladeshi-American educator holding degrees from MIT and Harvard Business School, has no affiliation with the UK. However, it’s such a great online, learning resource that I feel a need to tell you about it.
The Academy’s mission is to provide a free, high quality education to anyone, anywhere. It consists of an online library, stocked with over 3,600 videos that cover diverse disciplines such as mathematics, history, art history, healthcare, physics, chemistry, biology, finance, economics, and computer science. (Note: the academy is heavy on math/science and light on the humanities.) The videos tend to be very short, so only by viewing numerous videos do students gain a fuller understanding of a particular topic.
Khan Academy has also proven a useful tool for teachers and parents who home-school their children, because it generates problems for students that are based on the student’s skill level and performance. For adults, I think the Academy is great because without spending money or much time, one can become conversant with a topic, which is pretty cool for busy adults living in a fast-paced world.
To visit Khan Academy website, click HERE