LinkedIn’s upcoming acquisition of Lynda.com for $1.5 billion shows not only the potential for synergies between the world’s largest portal for professionals and an online training portal, but also the potential for online training and education programs on their own. While Lynda.com charges money for the training that it provides online, there are several online portals that offer courses completely free of charge.
The MOOC Revolution
Doing a degree online is considered, in some circles, a sub-par form of education. One of the reasons for that conclusion is the lack of social grooming that you get living through a 4-year college degree but also the quality of the courses. The recent revolution in online courses being available from the world’s top universities has definitely changed the latter part of that equation. Universities such as MIT, Harvard, Princeton and many others now provide a range of their courses online through websites such as Coursera and edX.
Users can sign up for free and go through the courses on a pre-determined schedule, watching video lectures, solving assignments and turning in homework. If you successfully complete a course, you stand the chance to receive a completion certificate along with the more obvious advantage of receiving world-class education from the top universities in the world.
The Modern Student
The limits of geography or the limit of exclusivity of these top-tier educational institutions have been broken by the availability of these online courses. The modern student is not just using the immense amount of knowledge and data that is available for consumption online but also leveraging tools such as online courses from universities in order to get ahead and be ready for the real world.
The Modern Professional
On the other side of the graduation ceremony, lies the professional world. In this world, you need to have marketable skills that would convince an employer to pay you for your time. These skills could range from software programming skills to an aptitude to present ideas or selling products. This brings us to websites like Udemy.com that provide a range of free courses on developing skills that you would find useful in your professional life. Not all courses on this website are free but there is a sizeable number that is free.
Coursera, edX, Udemy and…
So what are the other websites that are available to online users around the world for free courses on real-world skills or the not so real world of academia. First, there is always something available on YouTube – a lot of different people have put in the time and effort to develop tutorials that will teach you a variety of skills: SQL to Tableau to writing memos. Here is a list of some other websites that provide free online instructional videos on a variety of topics:
How useful are these courses?
Online education has had its ups and downs, supporters and protestors – but the only thing that it comes down to in terms of how useful these are for students and professionals is YOU. Online courses challenge one of the most basic habit that formal educational institutions have inculcated in all of us – an enforced routine. With online education, and especially, free online education, all the responsibility of learning is on you. There is no element of making to class at a specific time, a professor keeping an eye on the progress or contribution that everyone is making or a university that enforces its own rules on you.
Value versus Brand
Online courses really separate the value of education from the brand of education – at least in terms of the content of the courses taught, and the availability of courses from top-tier institutions as well as top training professionals from around the world has truly revolutionized the world of education, solely based on how disciplined you can be!