Can Online Education Be Free?

Free Online Education

With today’s unsteady economy and the cost of post-secondary education on the rise, many would welcome the chance to get an education for free. But is that even possible?

The 411 on Free Online Classes

Among the wealth of information available today on the Internet, there are a number of online educational resources out there for inquiring minds, which offer a database of podcasts, video lectures, audiobooks, and self-guided materials. Subjects can range from learning a new language to Adobe software training and even studying physics—with all courses completely for free and accessible from a computer and reliable Internet connection.

While a degree or certification earned at an accredited college provides a formal education that tends to carry more weight with employers, online learning does not have to solely be about gaining a credential, but can also help you to enhance your overall skill-set. When it comes to simply boning up on a particular subject, free online tutorials offer an affordable way for individuals to obtain the personal or professional knowledge they are seeking in a self-paced format.

Although free online classes are an unguided method of learning—with no professor at the helm directing the curriculum—online education already requires students to have their own initiative when it comes to pursuing their coursework. Free only classes merely takes that level of independence one step further, and ultimately, allows students more freedom when it comes to choosing what it is they would like to study.

Where Can I Start Looking for Free Online Courses?

If you are wondering where you can find free course material, might be a good place to start your search. They have compiled a comprehensive list of 11 websites that offer free online classes with a descriptive breakdown on each site’s offerings.

Most notability on their list are UC Berkeley Webcasts and MITOpernCourseWare—sites maintained by two schools often included in the top 10 of university rankings—which offer lecture notes, exams, and audio lectures from real-life professors who are employed at the universites and teach courses on campus.

If you would like to learn about tuition-based online courses, check out our article about the structure of online classes and the technology required.