It is a bit outdated to seek a school when you need to improve your qualifications, receive a degree, or master another subject, which may even be not connected to your current occupation. It is far better to resort to taking online courses for a subject you want, as the most important advantages of this approach are: more free time, less money spent on that matter, and more flexibility in regards to your schedule (the full list of advantages of online learning you can see below).
Online courses may stand in good stead as both an alternative to on-campus education and a supplement for “classic” education
Indeed, there are also a few aspects you need to take into account prior to taking online courses, namely:
- Communication with the lector occurs in a different way (if occurs at all);
- You will have to deal with the tasks either on your own or with the help of your mates, but the lector is unlikely to help you;
- You have to plan how will you pass the course (at what pace, how will you complete the tasks, etc.) on your own.
But, on the other hand, there is an impressive list of obvious trump cards, brought to you by the online education. Eventually, it is up for you to decide whether you should seek a standard, “classic” school and a specialized program there or take up one of the online courses.
Why to Resort to Taking Online Courses?
A lot of people from all around the world – regardless of their occupation, age, education, and gender – start taking up online courses more and more often. There are only two preconditions for resorting to the online education: access to internet and firm knowledge of English. Once you have both of those preconditions, you can take advantage of the online courses. The reasons for taking up an online course may be the following ones:
- A great variety of courses and programs from the world’s leading universities. By taking advantage of online courses, you can easily enroll in a program from one of the world’s best universities. This way, you can start a course in any field you want – even if it has nothing to do with your current education or profession. A large variety of online courses in all fields and sciences ensures that you will find the program you want.
- The tuition fees are significantly lower. A year of studying in an American university costs $40,000 on the average. In many of the websites provided below, you will find that courses are free for auditing (i.e. you get access to study materials and lectures for free). And at a significantly lower price, you are able to obtain a certificate of your accomplishments.
- That’s a very flexible and convenient way of learning. When it comes to the online education, you don’t have to bother yourself with going from your work earlier or struggling to find time in the days when you are really busy – you can schedule your studying the way you want.
- The environment is more comfortable for your studies. It is far better to lay in the bed or sit on a sofa and study, while drinking a cup of coffee. You don’t need to think about making yourself look presentable, hurrying to take a bus, being annoyed about being stuck in a traffic jam, and worrying about coming late.
- You don’t have to worry about possible interruptions in studying. The only issue you can experience is a problem with the internet, but it is unlikely to last for long. On the other hand, lots of in-class courses are frequently interrupted due to bad weather conditions or other unexpected events.
- The interaction and concentration are a key. While there is no clear evidence about an obvious increase in the interaction during online classes, it is logical that shy students are more likely to take part in the discussions and mutual tasks during the online education courses, while they are likely to stay quiet in the classroom.
Distance Learning: Coursera
Coursera is deservedly considered to be one of the most popular websites for the online education, as it partners with the leading universities from all over the world and from more than 40 countries. Up to date, there are over 24 million of users and over 2,000 online courses in various fields. Some of the website’s online courses come as specializations – sets of 5 or 6 courses in particular fields.
Coursera is one of the most popular websites that provides online courses from the world’s top universities
Auditing (i.e. gaining access to study materials and lectures) is free of cost at Coursera, though you have to look for separate courses. Even though you cannot access specializations outright (if you don’t purchase it), you can find separate courses from the specialization that interests you and pass them one by one.
If you have decided to pay for the online courses/specializations you will take up, you will be able to receive a certificate of your accomplishments at the end of the course/specialization and your success will be assessed. Recently, Coursera introduced the model of paying for courses, depending on how long it will take for you to complete a course or specialization. For instance, a month of learning a course or specialization starts from $49, though it depends on the subject, the field of science, and the university (so the price can be noticeably higher). And if you will manage to complete it within a month, it will be a total cost for the course or specialization then.
Also, Coursera offers scholarships for students who will be able to prove that they need to master a certain subject and they are really passionate about it.
Online Learning: Udemy
Udemy is frequently regarded as a pioneer of online learning and has become a leader of the market. The company’s mission is to provide adult professionals with the skills they need for their further development. So, unlike Coursera, Udemy’s concept is basically providing a platform for professionals, who can create courses and charge tuition fees from the students who take them up. This is somewhat distinctive from Cousera’s close-to-university approach.
Even though Udemy provides both free and paid courses – and that depends on the tutor – the majority of courses appear to be pay-for-learn. Up to the present time, Udemy appears to host 45,000 courses in various fields, spanning from health and music up to technologies and entrepreneurship.
Udemy also offers wonderful opportunities for companies, allowing them to create online courses for their employees, thus allowing the companies provide their employees with career development opportunities.
Online Education: Udacity
Udacity is another company that offers MOOCs, an abbreviation from “massive open online courses.” Initially launched as a platform for providing university-style online courses, this for-profit company shifted rather to providing theoretical and practical learning for professionals in the field of IT.
Even though Udacity cannot boast such a huge diversity of courses and programs as Coursera and Udemy (and it does not seem to offer free online courses), it is a great source for anyone who wants to advance in the IT field. Depending on the abilities and knowledge of students, all Udacity’s online courses are broken up into three categories: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Udacity is an invaluable source for anyone who wants to advance in the IT field
You can immediately understand that the goal of this company is providing education, required by business, as it partners with lots of known brands, including Bosch, Twitter, Uber, Google, Facebook, NVidia, Amazon, BMW, and many other renowned companies. So if you are an IT brain, that’s a perfect platform for you.
Unfortunately, the company provides a few free courses at maximum, so it may appear quite costly for someone. The tuition fees start with the price tag of $50 per month of studying, depending, once again, on the subject you have chosen. Subjects also significantly vary, as they start with Intro to Programming and Android Basics and end with Self-Driving Car Engineering and Robotics.
Online Classes: edX
edX is a company that somewhat similar to Coursera – it offers online courses from the world’s leading universities for free for auditing, though charges fees from students who want to pursue certificates of accomplishment. The company was launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in cooperation with the Harvard University, and more than 10 million students have enrolled into over 1,270 courses up to date.
Though, there is a significant difference between edX and its other competitors – edX is a non-profit organization, run by the universities. At the present time, edX can boast the number of its partners to be as high as 110. The website also offers blended courses, i.e. where students can learn both online and on-campus.
Nowadays, edX offers online courses in more than 30 fields free of cost. So it does not matter what a job you work on or what you wish to learn – you will find basically anything on this website. There is even the “Languages” section, which is far richer and offers a far bigger number of courses than edX’s main competitors. Do you need any more reasons to spend a bit of time, exploring the edX’s website?
Online Courses: Khan Academy
While Khan Academy was founded by Salman Khan back in 2006, it appears to be one of the pioneers in the market of online education. Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that offers online courses “For free. For everyone. Forever,” as its motto tells the visitors of the academy’s website.
And even though there are a lot of study materials and lectures in many fields, Khan Academy appears to be quite far from providing university-style courses, like Coursera or edX do. Even the CEO of the company recognized that its online courses – actually, short lectures in forms of YouTube videos and alike – are just a supplement to the university education, but it cannot be used as a “foundation.”
Khan Academy is recognized as one of the pioneers in the sphere of distance learning
Although a large part of the academy’s content obviously comes in English, many of the academy’s online courses have been either translated into the world’s most used languages or dubbed into other languages. The interface of the website shows that, apart from the English language, it can be used in 4 languages: Bangla, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Many famous companies and non-profit organizations – such as Google, AT&T, or Carlos Slim Foundation – donated in the Khan Academy for creating new courses, translating the content into other languages, or making the content more mobile-friendly.
Up to date, this platform is being used by over 2 million lecturers and 40 million learners every month. Many volunteers from all over the globe helped to translate a large part of the website’s content into 36 languages of the world.
Online Courses: NovoEd
NovoEd is another for-profit company that delivers small private online courses and massive open online courses to students from all over the globe. Founded by a professor and a student from the Stanford University, NovoEd has concentrated not only on providing high-quality online classes, but also on promoting collaboration among students.
That is exactly the key selling point of NovoEd: students are asked to work in small teams with other students from all over the globe and deliver assignments, which are checked after the submission. The company’s founders claim that such collaboration makes the process of studying more interactive, engaging, and that the completion rate among students is higher than in the other companies.
And even though the company has been founded as a partner of the Stanford University, now it partners with more than 15 educational institutions from the United States. At the present time, NovoEd offers a mix of free and paid online courses in various fields, such as humanities, design and creativity, business strategy, finance, and entrepreneurship.
The business school of Stanford, in cooperation with NovoEd, launched an online business program with the major in corporate innovation in 2014, and this attempt has been so far the greatest venture of online schooling. Upon the course completion, the students were able to obtain certificates that contained the records of their achievements, accomplished tasks, and so on. One way or another, trying NovoEd is a good idea for anyone who wants to improve his/her skills of teamwork and collaboration.