It’s July 9, 2018. The second half of the year is briskly going by as is the time that we have till the end of the year to accomplish all the goals and dreams we came into it with.
If you are like me, acquiring a new skill and improving on already existing ones was a huge part of the goals I had for 2018.
For you it may have come in the form of practicing more and trying to put into effect, the Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule, polishing your craft enough through the fire of time and practice to make it shine even brighter. For some others, it may have had to come in the form of an organized course or formal education like obtaining a Masters degree or a professional training and so on.
However, both time and financial constraints may have stalled some of these goals for more learning in the first half of the year. Nevertheless, based on the fact that we now live in a global village and can access the world through our smart devices, the number of online learning platforms are not only growing but opening up learning opportunities for people across the globe with basics like internet access and a smart device.
Personally, I have always wanted to obtain a Master’s degree and generally further my education when I get the chance to, especially in a system that is very much practical-based than theoretical. But while I continue to seek out opportunities and admissions, I have continued to improve my craft and skills by poring over Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) websites and they have helped immensely these past six months.
Below are five of such sites I recommend. Some allow you learn for free, others require you pay for the courses and offer a certificate of learning at the end. All the sites collectively have very insightful course lecturers from universities across the US and Europe, so yes, you are learning from their curriculum and are being taught by their lecturers. While they may not be as widely inclusive as a full year to four year course may seem, I haven’t taken any course I didn’t come away from with something new and applicable.
From courses in the Creative Arts and Design to courses in Accounting and Data Science, there are over 20,000 of them to learn from on the Skillshare platform. The platform records over a million students and also gives one the opportunity to become a teacher on the platform if they desire. On this platform, anyone can teach any subject as long as you follow the publishing guidelines on the platform and continually interact with your students and receive positive feedback on the courses.
Not many courses on the site are free. There is however a free 2-month trial period after which you are billed monthly or annually.
On Coursera, you can learn anything from subjects under the Arts and Humanities, Business, Computer Science, Data Science, Information Technology, Life Sciences to Math and Logic, Computer Science, Personal Development, Physical Science and Engineering, Social Sciences and Languages.
Like Skillshare, there are very few free courses on this platform. For some course, some learning material may be free and you will have no grading for assignments and projects and certainly no certificate at the end of the course.
With a monthly subscription as high as $49 monthly, this platform is maybe the most expensive on this list. However, there is a financial aid option available for most of the courses and users can explore that option. I haven’t tried to before, so I am uncertain how it works or what criteria they require to grant these scholarships. With the calibre of schools on this platform, it is definitely worth the hassle.
Udemy, founded in 2007 is not like the usual MOOC learning platform. Like Coursera, its over 80,000 courses are mostly created and and driven by online content creators as against university curricula.
Using Udemy’s course development tools they can upload video, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, audio, zip files and live classes to create courses. Instructors can also engage and interact with users via online discussion boards.
Courses offered include a wide range of subject areas in business and entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health and fitness, language, music, and technology. Most classes are in practical subjects such as Excel software or using an iPhone camera.
Udemy offers paid and free courses, depending on the instructor.
Udemy also offers Udemy for Business, enabling businesses access to a targeted suite of over 2,000 training courses on topics from digital marketing tactics to office productivity, design, management, programming, and more. With Udemy for Business, organizations can also create custom learning portals for corporate training.
Like Coursera, you can decide to become an instructor, build your own course using Udemy’s course development guidelines and earn using the available revenue sharing formula.
You must be familiar with TED Talks or TEDx events or something relating to the organisation now known for bringing together unique ideas and thought leaders in mini conferences that are published and access by millions of people around the globe.
In case you didn’t know, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, which form the three large umbrellas under which subject ideas are developed and shared int he many TED events held annually across the world.
TED was founded in February 1984.
One of the arms of this media organisation disseminating information freely online is the TED-Ed platform, with the tag line Lessons Worth Sharing while drawing from the Ideas Worth Spreading ideology of the main TED events.
Like Coursera and Udemy, anyone can create a lesson on this platform but lessons have to be in line with an original TED talk or idea or YouTube video. Why I love this site is simply because it is a pool of seemingly generic ideas on a vast range of topics from Greek mythology to the science behind hallucinations that can serve as better topics for small talk at events or when meeting someone for the first time.
If you also want to come off looking smart in any scenario, this is the place where you can learn a whole lot of stuff from very varied sources very easily and free of charge. In this sense, this may not be your typical MOOC platform as it follows no university curriculum nor does it have certificates awarded at the end of any lessons.
There are however mini classwork in some modules that present the feeling of a formal learning coursework and these are graded as well.
Also available is a discussion option where you can drop comments and receive feedback from other course learners and sometimes instructors/course creators.
Let’s say I saved the best for last. If you follow my daily essays on this platform, you must have come across a number of references I have made previously to this MOOC platform and it is a proper MOOC platform.
Courses curated and taught by universities across the US and Europe traverse subject areas from Psychology and Law to Film Making and Creative Writing. Amazingly, the courses are free in their entirety for only a duration of time, however.
This means you may have 30 days to access all the course content for the required course you desire and afterwards the content is closed off to you. Nevertheless, there’s a premium plan that allows you upgrade your access for a certain fee.
When this is done, it opens up an unlimited access to the course and you have the opportunity of receiving a certificate at the end. Video interactions, texts and a lot of class work are hallmarks of course on FutureLearn.
Why I absolutely love this platform is how well it drives interaction between learners on the platform. For instance, while taking the How To Make A Poem course, I had the chance to converse with learners from Israel to Japan and had access to explore how poetry is being used as a tool for social change and political activism in some parts of the world. It was also interesting to learn that Nigerian poets are as celebrated and widely known outside the shores of this country more than we know. I learnt so much from the course and had so much fun writing poetry and receiving feedback from various course mates that I didn’t want it to end.
Access to a lot of these courses are as little $8 a month. That’s roughly N2,900.00 which seems fair enough given what knowledge and information you’d have access to and how flexible the learning structure is like.
Most Nigerian banks have payment mediums to allow you pay for these course. GTBank is one trusted ally in international transactions as far as I’ve carried out.
You’ve heard that once you stop learning you start dying. The capacity to learn is a gift the ability to learn, a skill but the willingness to learn is a choice says Brian Hebert. The available sources to learn are so immense today that there are no excuses. Don’t wait for the sun and moon and stars to align, go on and explore these sites today and begin learning new things today.
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