Learning Online

If there is one thing everyone should do for the rest of their lives, it is learn.  Whether it’s a new skill, more knowledge, or maybe a language, we must never stop learning. Sometimes, our schedules just won’t permit it, or some circumstance doesn’t allow us to, say, re-enroll in university. Don’t fret though. Through the magic and wonder of the internet, we’re now able to acquire knowledge at an unprecedented rate. There are many resources available online, many of which partner with universities globally, and allow some form of accreditation, should that be the kind of thing you’re looking for.

Yes, there’s much more to YouTube than cat videos and videogame reviews. Many people with years and years of experience have gone on the platform to share the wealth of their knowledge to the rest of humanity. You could do a simple search for the topic you wish to learn, or head over to the Education channel, found in the menu (The three gray bars beside the YouTube logo), at the very bottom, under the Browse Channels menu. Simply enter “education” in the search box that comes up from there, and you’ll have access to countless videos on as many topics, from basic English skills, math, sciences, and business. It’s even sorted by grade levels, separated into primary and secondary, university, and lifelong learning, each of which containing a whole host of information on relevant topics.

Whether you need a hand understanding something for school, or work, or just want to add to the things you already know, it’s a great place to start, that’s familiar, simple, and informative.

A treasure trove of education online, Coursera has partnerships with prestigious universities such as Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, and Stanford. From machine learning, to programming, to music, business, and various topics on data science, they have courses available to cater to your learning needs.

Coursera offers a much more structured learning environment than videos online. While you might go to a YouTube “class” to take a quick lesson on a topic you’re interested in, Coursera is laid out more like an interactive textbook, with videos, quizzes, and homework for you to accomplish. There are free routes to take, through you can unlock all the content available, as well as certification for completing courses with a paid subscription.

Courses start on specific dates, and go on for a set time, depending on the topic. You will have to enroll, just as you would in a regular school, and devote a certain amount of time in your day or week to the subject. Each course has details on payment, free options, time requirements, and other information, so you can see just what you are getting into before you choose to commit. There are even opportunities to connect with fellow students to figure things out, share ideas, and learn together.

University online learning
Particular universities also offer opportunities for students to participate in their courses online. While not all of these come with a degree, if your goal is to further knowledge, it’s a great way to receive top-notch education, without the commitment of going full-time. Stanford is one such university that offers online courses. While their current options are limited to Liberal Arts and Sciences, Creative Writing, and Professional and Personal Development, that’s still quite a selection available to the remote student. The courses are paid, though you do get your money’s worth. Depending on the course, you will get to interact frequently with your instructor, as well as other students, small class sizes, a flexible schedule, and video meetings, to make sure everyone is learning together. While it does offer credits, these cannot be used towards an actual degree from Stanford, though it is possible that other universities will honor them towards a degree there. You can even request for transcripts, should that become necessary.

While not necessarily as structured or deep as Stanford’s offerings, the Harvard Extension School does offer some free courses on a variety of topics. Videos are available on topics on Computer Science, Culinary Arts, and other topics. For those who want a more structured learning experience, there are quite a number of certificate courses available, though those do come with their own requirements, and quite a steep price tag. The website says about USD 2,400 for the ’15-’16 schoolyear, so this is something you will have to consider before going down this road. Once you’ve completed the course and if you’ve earned it, you will receive a Harvard Extension School Certificate in your field of study.

Our very own Technical Education and Skills Development Authority has online lessons for a whole lot of marketable trades, from tuning up a diesel engine, to sandwich making 101. While it won’t get you a degree or certification, there are a lot of courses available here, and they’re all useful for anyone who wants to pick up a skill or two.

TESDA does offer classes in an actual classroom, which is a great way to move forward once you pick up a module or two from the website. Their online lessons are a little Spartan, but broken down in a manner that’s easy to understand, and not intimidating. You’ll find topics from automotive, to beauty, to programming and animation, and though it might not be the last resource one would go to, but it’s a great start, and it’s local.

If you don’t know something, there’s really no excuse to not learn it; not with everything we have access to this day and age. All you really need is a computer, an internet connection, and a willing mind, and you can learn anything.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE June 2016 Issue
Words by Ren Alcantara