Online Learning – One Antidote to the Stay at Home Syndrome

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It’s a shared story among many of us who have opted to put their careers on hold to raise our children and/or move with our spouses abroad–that mind-warping mix of the promise of a domesticated life coupled with the unfulfillment and boredom it oftentimes brings.

Fortunately for us technology allows us to expand our knowledge and credentials to help us (and our CVs!) stay current while building our skills and capabilities. All thanks to online education. The best thing is, for casual learners like myself (vs. the academic types who are probably well-versed in this arena), a lot of these courses can be sourced from the world’s top universities, more and more of which are free!

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There are A LOT of sites for online education since it has been around for a while. But recent updates allow for greater access and personalisation in selecting courses based on your interests, mode of learning, lifestyle and/or needs. In fact, Businessweek claims that 2014 would be the year that online education “comes of age”.

So now I can choose a course and learn on my own time. Take one that grants me a verified certificate. Opt for different levels of participation, based on my needs, schedule or even mood! If I choose to, I can even interact with fellow-learners around the globe in “café chat rooms”. Through the peer-to-peer learning tools, I am constantly amazed by the incredible diversity of people who share a common passion or interest in a subject.

The biggest difference from, say, three years ago would be the many ways to connect with professors and other learners: Facebook, YouTube, Google Hangouts, Twitter, intrasites. There are even sites for reviewing and rating courses and, to the their chagrin, professors! A Tripadvisor or Yelp for education, imagine that.

These are my favorites go-to sites (click on logo for links) when I am hit by the desire to further my knowledge/skills. That’s usually when I start noticing that my “in-depth knowledge” extends to the ability  to speak, with much authority, about all the fairies in the Winx Club and their corresponding magical powers. Oh dear.

 

edx

A non-profit initiative by Harvard and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), this offers courses from some of the world’s top universities, from North America, Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, Sweden & Asia. Courses are mostly in English.

coursera

A for-profit educational platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide to offer free online courses in over 20 languages.

 

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A place to learn real life skills like Web development, guitar, coding, design, accounting.

 

topu

The world’s first distance-learning university based in the UK. It is funded by a combination of student fees and higher education funding bodies in the UK. It offers  under and post-graduate degrees which you can finish at your own pace.

 

itunesu2

A public portal, distribution medium for content from over 1000 colleges and universities which you can access on your iPhone and/or iPad only.

 

Are any of you online/distance learners? What are your preferred resources? Share your inside info with us through the Comments section below!

 

Written by Marite Irvine

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