One of the greatest benefits of the evolution of the internet is the appearance of the MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. Want to learn a new programming language? Is your Spanish a little rusty since high school? Want to really unlock the potential of Microsoft Word or Excel? There are a number of new players in the world of online learning. I review each of them below.
Here are six online learning sites that help you learn without leaving your laptop.
Founded in 2006 by Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, this non-profit now boasts thousands of educational videos covering topics from finance to animation to art history. Each video is about ten minutes long. All resources are available for free to anyone around the world. Khan Academy reaches about 10,000,000 students per month and has delivered over 300,000,000 online learning lessons.
Skillshare proposes a new model for online learning – anyone can sign up to learn and anyone can sign up to teach. Their mission is “Reunite learning with education and make it accessible to every single person on this planet. Anyone can learn anything, at any age, at an affordable cost, anywhere in the world.” Classes are $25 and under and range from advertising to business to design to photography and technology. The most popular class right now is taught by Seth Godin and is titled: The New Business Toolbox: Help Your New Business Do It Right The First Time.
For $25 a month, users can get unlimited access to lynda.com’s online learning library of over 1,800 video courses covering a variety of subjects. The site’s software tutorials are particularly useful when trying to brush up on a program you haven’t used in a while or learn the particulars of a newly released version of an old favorite.
Founded and run by educational powerhouses Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, EdX features “learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web.” The site currently offers online courses from Harvard, MIT, Berkley, University of Texas, Georgetown, McGill, Cornell, Boston University, and about twenty other colleges or universities worldwide.
Gibbon’s tagline is “Playlists for learning: almost all the knowledge is available on the web, all you need is someone to guide you to it.” In that spirit, you register for the learning categories that interest you and the amount of time you want to dedicate to learning something new each week. Then Gibbon emails you once a week with a playlist of courses. Each course tells you upfront the amount of time that’s required – and it’s usually very palatable at 10 or 15 minutes. The user interface is appealing and there’s no rigid structure. You are part of a learning and teaching community and you can learn and teach at your own pace. Most courses are focused on design and technology.