For the past few years, I’ve been regretting not taking more science courses in college. I’m fascinated by plants, animals, and earth science, but somehow managed to take two physics courses and leave my scientific higher education at that. After I graduated, I ended up teaching myself bits of biology by reading books and attending public lectures here and there. But I’ve been longing for a more formal approach to fill in the gaps of my self-taught knowledge.
Recently, I started taking MOOCs – “massive open online course.” MOOCs are free or low-cost online courses offered by reputable institutions from around the globe. There is no lengthy application process, and prerequisites are minimal. In the United States, EdX and Coursera are two popular portals for accessing these courses.
It’s possible to get college credit for some MOOCs, but this often involves paying a fee – typically around $50 – so that the course provider can verify that you are the person who took the course. I’m taking them for the love of learning, so I usually select the free option (although I like to throw a little money in the MOOC providers donation kitties to help support future offerings).
Earlier this winter, I took an online anatomy course offered by Harvard. It was absolutely fascinating, pleasantly challenging, and well worth the time I invested in it. This spring, I plan to take evolutionary biology and organic chemistry.
MOOCs are available for many other topics as well, from literature to music to computing to business management. Interested in learning more? You can check out EdX and Coursera, or view listings from multiple MOOC providers on the MOOC List or through the links in this MOOC article.
Have you ever taken a MOOC? If you haven’t, what would you like to learn online? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!