A Guide To Online Learning Via MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

Think back to your teenage days: what if it would have been possible to attend classes from the best faculties and the most passionate teachers all around the world, regardless of your location and financial status? Wouldn't you have attended some of them to help your own studies, or to choose a career path?

Nowadays you can.

You are able to watch lectures from Harvard, MIT, Stanford and other institutes online and get access to a lot of great courses. Most of them are completely free to attend! No matter if you want to build a new career, enjoy learning, or need some additional learning resources for your studies at school or university: there's a wide range of courses available for free.

In what fields of study are online learning courses available?

It depends on the platform: edX and Coursera offer the widest range with over 1.700 courses, from architecture to different scientific fields.

How do I prove I attended and successfully completed a course?

Ususally you will receive a verified certificate after you successfully completed a course. If the course is free, the certificates usually isn't. The certificate fees start at $49.

If you're planning to use the courses for building a career or switching business fields, you should not attend MOOC for the sheer sake of receiving certificates. Many employers value your self-learning effort, but using your knowledge to build a good portfolio with personal projects is usually a better approach and shows you can apply what you are learning.

Can I study online now? Can I earn degrees with MOOC?

Very few platforms do offer credit transfer in collaboration with certain universities and colleges in the US, e.g. Charter Oak State College. Only a handful of degrees are offered via distance learning: On Coursera you can achieve the Master of Computer Science in Data Science, while edX offers credit toward a master's degree via the MicroMasters program.

The best MOOC platforms (mostly free)

  1. edX

    • Founded in 2012 by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • The non-profit organisation developed the Open edX platform
    • Fields of study: Architecture, Art & Culture, Biology, Business & Management, Chemistry, Computer Science, Design, Economics, Engineering, Health & Safety, History, Language, Law, Literature, Math, Medicine, Music, Philosophy & Ethics, Physics, Science,...
    • Number of courses available: approx. 700
    • Price: FREE
    • Certificate: Verified certificates are available for a fee (between $49 - $149)
  2. Stanford Online

    • Stanford offers a wide variety of courses on their instance of Open edX.
    • Fields of study: Computer Science, Medicine, Engineering, English...
    • Courses available: approx. 50
    • Price: FREE
    • Certificates available: no, but a Statement of Accomplishment is available for some courses
  3. Khan Academy

    • Started in 2005 by Sal Khan as private lessons for his cousins and developed into the non-profit organisation. Khan studied at MIT and Harvard.
    • Fields of study: Math, Science & Engineering, Computing, Arts & Humanities, Economics & Finance, Test Preparation
    • Number of courses available: over 4.000
    • Price: FREE
    • Certificates available: no
  4. Coursera

    • Founded in 2012 by Stanford Professors
    • Fields of study: Arts and Humanities, Business, Computer Science, Data Science, Life Sciences, Math and Logic, Personal Development, Physical Science and Engineering, Social Sciences, Language Learning
    • Number of courses available: over 1.000
    • Price: a lot of courses are FREE to attend, others range between $29 - $99 per month.
    • Free trial available: yes, 7 days
    • Certificates available: yes, when enrolled with monthly subscription
  5. Udacity

    • founded in 2011 by Stanford Professor of Computer Science
    • Fields of study: Computer Science, Digital Marketing, Data Analytics
    • Number of courses available: approx. 100
    • Price: some courses are FREE to attend, otherwise monthly subscription ( from $99) or $199-$999 for courses and nanodegree programs.
    • Free trial available: yes, for nanodegree programs
    • Certificates available: available for nanodegree programs
Computer Science online learning resources

Besides the absolutely amazing CS50 Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard University on edX, you find the material for a complete education in computer science on the github page of the Open Source Society.

Recommendations of courses I took (will be updated)

I can't stop raving about CS50 - and I'm not even finished yet! David J. Malan is an exceptionally gifted and passionate teacher.
If you're not familiar with learning techniques yet, "Learning How To Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects" on Coursera might be an interesting choice for you. It only took me a few days to complete, but the insights I gained from it are really valuable.

Of course there are way more resources than listed above, but the ones I chose are mostly free and offer the widest range of topics. If you have additional recommendations, feel free to comment!

Photo credits: Victor Hanacek, picjumbo.com

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Mag Faultiere, gärtnert gerne, und hat noch keine eckigen Augen bekommen.