Free Online Courses for Many Topics

If I could, I’d take at least one class at all times. By now, I’d have two masters degrees and maybe even a Ph.D. Well, maybe not that. It’s a shame that online degrees didn’t exist when I was in college or was mostly by correspondence (snail mail). I took my first non-class course in high school in history. I completed all the assignments and mailed them back. Then I took the exams in the counselor’s office.

Online courses are a wonderful experience for me as I don’t miss a thing unless the institution uses online lectures through headsets. I’m glad I went to a traditional college and had the typical four-year experience. But I don’t miss sitting through all those lectures where I was bored out of my mind because I couldn’t decipher a professor’s accent, mumbles, or fast-talk.

Every now and then I search the Web for online grad programs to see if anything new pops up that catches my eye. I’d love to apply for Texas Tech’s master’s program in technical communications or an online masters program with some focus on writing or journalism. Alas, I don’t have the time to devote to it as I have to make time for other things right now. But it’ll stay on my radar as my life won’t stay the same and opportunities will come.

Anyway, here are free online courses. Just because they’re free doesn’t mean they’re useless as you’ll see some have instructors and discussion forums. Online courses have the advantage of being available 24/7 so those with busy schedules can review the material any time that works. This list is updated from time to time.

About U
http://u.about.com/
About.com’s About U sends courses by email on a daily or weekly basis and helps students learn a specific skill or solve a problem. There are no grades or degrees. Courses include Christmas Carols, motorcycles for beginners, and Dallas metroplex trivia. Courses obviously cover a diversity of areas.

Barnes and Noble University
http://university.barnesandnoble.com/index.asp?z=y
Barnes and Noble University offers courses and reading groups every month taught by an expert in the field, and sometimes the instructor is a bestselling author. Courses fall into one of three categories: Liberal Arts, Life Improvement, and Reading Groups. Get a deeper insight into the Picasso’s art and cubism, analyze dreams and learn golf basics.

CNet How-To Online Courses
http://courses.help.com/
Buying a home theater? Take a home theater basics class. CNet courses cover technology and consumer electronic topics for registered CNET members. CNet’s subject matter experts lead the class discussions. Classes aren’t in real-time, so you can log in whenever you wish to follow discussions in the classroom comment blog.

HP
http://h30187.www3.hp.com/index.jsp…
HP has instructor-lead online courses that are available 24/7. Each course has two to ten lessons with some having quizzes, assignments or both. A course has a start and end date during which lessons are posted. Lessons (depending on the number for the course) are posted twice a week and are available 24/7 until the course ends. Courses also have a message board (forums or bulletin board) so students can interact with each other and the instructor.

LearnOutLoud
http://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video
LearnOutLoud offers free educational audio and video courses. You can search by category and subcategory. The site also has a search box, but it may include non-free courses in its results.

MIT OpenCourseWare
http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html
One of the best universities in the country that costs thousands of dollars provides free access to MIT’s course materials. You won’t get a formal class, but the opportunity to review over 1250 courses in a diversity of fields. Looking at a sample course, you get the syllabus, readings, and projects. Just no formal grading, discussion, or lecture. Some courses are available in other languages and the one I looked at is available in Spanish and Portuguese.

Radio Shack
http://learningcenter.radioshack.com/
Radio Shack’s free courses include two to eight lessons and may have quizzes and assignments. Courses have a start and end date. Courses typically cover home technology. In other words, showing customers how to use the things they buy from the company’s stores.

SBA Free Online Courses
http://www.sba.gov/training/courses.html
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) links to many high-quality online courses sorted by subject areas such as starting a business, government contracting, and business management. I’ve seen Hot Shot Business Simulation for young entrepreneurs and it’s superb.

Test Prep Review

Test Prep Review


Practice for PSAT, SAT, GMAT, GRE, and many other standardized tests. The site also offers test prep resources.

World Lecture Hall from University of Texas
http://web.austin.utexas.edu/wlh/
World Lecture Hall has been around for a while and like MIT, offers access to course materials. ” Some courses are delivered entirely over the Internet. Others are designed for students in residence. Many fall somewhere in between. In all cases, they can be visited by anyone interested in courseware on the Internet — faculty, developers, and curious students alike.”

Updated: November 9, 2006

4 thoughts on “Free Online Courses for Many Topics”

  1. The OpenLearn website gives free access to course materials from The Open University. The LearningSpace is open to learners anywhere in the world.

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