From playing the guitar, to web design, or photo shop, you can gain some cool new skills online for free, if you just know where to look. To top this off, you get to do this in your own time and space.
If you are one of those more serious types, you can find content on topics like neuroscience, mobile app development, cryptography and coding.
So if you want to impress your friends with some nifty tricks, here’s how. All you need to do is to find the right MOOC. A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course aimed at maximum interactive participation while providing open access to users over the internet. You can study a new skill through video lectures, reading materials and discussion forums which include students, professors and tutors;
Here is our top five list of MOOC sites;
Coursera has the widest range of courses (over 2,000) offered by some of the worlds top learning institutions. You get video tutorials, exercises, assignments, tutorials and discussion forums with peers. Classes are very structured and course lengths vary between 4 and 12 weeks. If you just want to gain a skill, you can learn for free, if you want a certificate for your efforts, you will need to pay a fee. Head on to Coursera and check out the institutions that are offering. Coursera has the likes of Stanford and Princeton as part of its contibutors.
Key strength of Coursera is: Institute quality and great course content
Edx is very similar to Coursera. It was founded in 2012 by scientists from Harvard University and MIT and their mission is to “provide quality education to everyone around the world”. Edx features over 650 courses and its courses are generally more scientific and rigorous. All this is done with real universities, real professors and real classes. This site has over 1,700 faculty and over 7 million learners from all over the world.
If you are looking for some in-depth courses and are willing to put in the required time and effort, this site is for serious learners who are willing to out in the leg work.
Key strength of Edx: Rigorous science programs
Udemy is a platform that is targeted at professional adults who want to learn a new skill or add a new skill to their resume. This site allows any user to be either an instructor or a learner. Udemy gives experts of any subject to develop their own courses for the public. In line with this, the site encourages corporate trainers to develop coursework for their company employees. So you are likely to see industry related training here. This will help to prepare you for the very real world of work.
Instructors can choose to charge for courses or offer them for free. Generally participants do not get any certificate for the training.
A third of the courses are free and you can manage the pacing of your learning. This site is not so much for you to gain certification, but for you to pick and choose which job related skills you want to learn.
Key strength of Udemy is: You get skills based training
Lynda is unique in that it does not focus on course materials but specialises in video tutorials by industry instructors. Lynda gives you a 10 day free trial and if you subscribe for a minimal fee you get access to a wide range of tutorials. You may be asking “how different is that from Youtube”? On Youtube, the quality of video tutorials varies widely and you may have to wade through tonnes of videos before you find one that covers what you want to learn. The difference is that Lynda instructiors are experts, plus they are entertaining and informative.
Key strength for Lynda is: Great content from Industry experts
Key strength for Codecademy is: Full range of coding languages and access to peer networks.