July 24, 2013

Free Online Courses

College, for free?

Do you:
  1. Have some spare time during the week? It doesn't take much.
  2. A working computer/laptop with internet access or a nearby WiFi coffee shop?
  3. Speakers or headset with speakers?
  4. A desire to learn?
Guess what. Whether you are homeschooling a child who is approaching college and could use the prep experience or would like a chance to CLEP out of college courses the opportunity is there!

"Massive open online courses", or MOOCs – a rapidly growing phenomenon launched around a year ago in the US, whereby prestigious universities such as Harvard make selected courses available over the internet to absolutely anybody around the world for free.  -Jessica Moore, The Telegraph

Here are some sites worth checking out...

This site uses videos to teach full courses. The videos consist of segments 10 minutes or less and have a 5-question quiz that follows. Currently my kids are working through the History 103 course and are thriving. (ages 12 & 14). I have encouraged them to explore the site and determine their interests which has led my 12 year old to marketing. (I never would have thought!) Education Portal Academy's mission is to teach a course well enough that a person could easily CLEP out of the course thereby earning college credit. Instead of hundreds of dollars per course plus books (books are NOT a prerequisite.) it costs around $70.00 to CLEP a course at a local college or testing area.* 

*If you are a military member you receive CLEP opportunities for free.

You can find more information on the requirements of CLEP courses and study guides here.

Ever heard of Princeton? Stanford? Harvard?--I knew you had! What if you had the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest professors in the country? 

Coursera offers a variety of courses and they are taught at a higher level than that of Education Portal in my opinion. Coursera is the same in that they use video format for their lectures but more is required-- papers, labs and solutions perhaps. I would NOT recommend these courses to lower level students who still need help with their writing skills or those who need assistance in basic areas of their schooling. Ideally, again, in my opinion, these courses should be taken by an adult or a student in the junior or senior year of high school.

Do not push your child into something they are not ready for. If I had a dollar for every parent who pushed their child to speed ahead of what they knew up to that point--and then failed--I would almost be financially independent. I always feel very sad for homeschooled children whose parents fail to see that some subjects take more time than others.

Okay, that being said--I know there are children who can handle the subject areas but on Coursera I encourage parents to test-drive the course first in order to assess the level of difficulty and also the level of maturity needed for the course. 

The really, really cool thing about Coursera is found in completing a course. Many of the courses (such as those taught by Princeton professors) do not offer a formal certificate from the school but Coursera is there to validate your completion. BUT--there are schools like Georgia Tech that do offer a college validated  certificate of completion. When looking through the courses you can find out which courses do and do not offer school certificates by looking under the course description.

By the way, I am signed up for "A History of the World since 1300" taught by Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University. This class starts in 1 month and I will keep you updated on the structure of the course as I progress.

Last, but not least...

These free college courses online are equally as hardcore as Coursera. Their ""Meet Us" statement speaks volumes:

"Udacity is a totally new kind of learning experience. You learn by solving challenging problems and pursuing udacious projects with world-renowned university instructors (not by watching long, boring lectures). At Udacity, we put you, the student, at the center of the universe.

Udacity classes will make you sweat. Passing a Udacity class is as demanding as passing a university-level class. But you will have a lot of fun along the way as you learn new skills and interact with amazing instructors and peers.
In return for your hard work, Udacity offers a range of certification options that are recognized by major technology companies who are actively recruiting from the Udacity student body. Join the hundreds of thousands of Udacity students who have already been empowered by this new form of learning."
Two things:

1. Passing a Udacity class is as demanding as passing a university-level class. (See, they tell you!)
2. In return for your hard work, Udacity offers a range of certification options that are recognized by major technology companies who are actively recruiting from the Udacity student body. (That's pretty cool!)

  • Use these tools  to gauge the college readiness of your child.
  • Take a course yourself for enrichment
  • Take a course together
  • Earn CLEP credits.. it 's one of the easiest ways to start a college transcript for your child while covering the high school requirements as well
  • Let your child explore the sites and pick interest-based classes. Great learning occurs when the freedom is allowed in that area. 
Happy learning!

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Freebie Fridays


Luke said...

It isn't exactly a college course (I aimed more for around high school-ish), but I created a 36 week free Filmmaking 101 course. I love how many learning opportunities are cropping up online now [smile].


Angela DeRossett said...

Hi Luke! I will be passing your info along! I bet there are a lot of people who would be very interested in a film-making course!Thanks for sharing.