Thursday, June 27, 2013

Free Online University Courses!

Did you know that you can take university courses online for FREE? Well, I didn't - at least not until I discovered Coursera, " education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free" and believes " connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits." How totally too cool is this???

The first course that caught my eye was Diabetes: Diagnosis, Treatment and Opportunities through UCSF. As the granny of a lovely 12-year-old Type 1 diabetic, I'd like to know all I can about diabetes and am especially interested in Week 5: Frontiers/New Horizons, where I hope to learn about treatment options that may be available in the not-too-distant future. But this course doesn't start until October so I found two more to take in the meantime.

Right now, I'm taking The Social Context of Mental Health (University of Toronto) and will start Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health (University of Pittsburgh) mid-July. I wanted to get a feel for the learning platform and easily found many courses I'd love to take - and it was really hard, but I limited myself to just the two (so far...).

The site is pretty easy to figure out - if I can do it, so can you! I can either view the lectures online or download the videos for later viewing. One huge advantage to watching online is that the viewer allowed me to adjust the speed and I could race through the lectures. Beings I can listen faster than the normal video speed and can only watch online before 5am (bandwidth restriction), this was great! But downloading for future viewing is even better because I don't have to be up so early so often and can more easily pause and take notes.

There's also a forum for class discussions, which I will probably use minimally. After just a couple of days, there are already an overwhelming number of posts and I don't foresee myself taking the time to read through more than a handful. So I hope the other students use super-clear thread titles.

If you'd like to learn from topnotch instructors from big name universities, check out Coursera courses. Most courses are in English (currently 363 spread across 25 subject areas!) but there are a few in other languages, as well. You can either fully participate (discussions, homework, etc.) or just audit the course - you're choice. If you do turn in assignments and complete the course, you'll get a certificate of completion.

What are you waiting for?

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