Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Best Free Online Learning Sites

Late last year I made a decision not to continue with my university studies this year. I have been studying towards a degree in Creative Writing and whilst I absolutely love the writing, the number of analytical essays I had to produce was not much fun. So, I decided this year to focus my writing energies into my blog and my novel...but I still like to do other more fun courses such as One Little Word.

When I was in my local library the other day, I picked up a brochure called Looking at 2.0. I was not sure what it was about, but thought I would have a look at it when I got the chance...plus it mentioned free learning which is always a good thing.

I followed the link via the State Library of Queensland and was surprised to find that Looking at 2.0 is actually a free online course about all aspects of the internet...including online learning funnily enough. The course is made up of beginners, intermediate and advanced modules and I would encourage starting with the beginners section, especially in the social media tab. This section provides an overview of all the major social media outlets with some interesting video links and practical exercises to complete.

I am a beginner when it comes to Pinterest and even Twitter so I will be going back to review those sections when I am ready to delve properly into these social media areas. I was also interested to learn about Linkedin and Stumble Upon which I had heard of but did not know much about them.

Now, the section where I spent most of my time and the one which I think everyone would find interesting is:

This section outlines some of the more popular sites where you can access online courses/ videos etc for free. Some of these I had never heard of and are really great sources for short courses or online tutorials. Just click on the site names below to investigate what you can learn for free.

1. The Khan Academy 

The Khan Academy boasts a library of over 4000 videos to “help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.” It is a not-for-profit company supported by donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google.
You can use the videos for your own learning or you can coach others. Originally focused on science and maths, the academy is now branching into other areas. To sign up to the Khan Academy, you'll need your Open ID from Facebook or Google+. You can also download an app for use on your smart phone.

TED is a not-for-profit company devoted to “ideas worth spreading” and stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  TED includes talks, TED Fellows, TEDx and the annual TED Prize. There are more than 1400 TED talks currently online.  Watch them in your own time and join the TED community using your Facebook Open ID.
TED Ed offers tutorials and talks as well as information on how to create your own. the thing  like about it is you can access it on your smart phone. Just download the app.

3. Udemy

Udemy helps you learn from the world’s top experts like best-selling authors, CEOs, celebrities and professors. It stands for ‘Your Academy’. Learn everything from photography to design and yoga, as well as how to plan, create, publish and promote your own courses. To sign up to Udemy, use your Facebook Open Id or email address. These are courses rather than videos or tutorials and some professionals do charge for them but there are heaps and heaps of free ones.

Coursera is a social enterprise company partnering with more than 60 universities around the world to deliver free online courses. You can learn at your own pace and test your knowledge through interactive exercises. Subject areas offered include Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science and many more. Courses run for a designated period, during which you can complete the materials at your own pace.

This site is my personal favourite. I have just enrolled in a one month Climate Change course with Macquarie University...for free!
Open2Study is a free online education site by Open Universities Australia. It offers high quality  four-week courses. Watch videos, take quizzes and join online discussions with classmates.
There are a range of courses in Marketing and Advertising, Business, Management, Health, Finance and Arts and Humanities. At the end of your course you gain a certificate of achievement to add to your portfolio. 
So, when you want to expand your horizons, you now know where to go...without leaving home. I can see I will never get all of the housework done now :)
Have you done any courses from the above sources? Who would you recommend?

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