Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Higher Education Just a Login Away; Academic Freebies Are Up for Grabs Online and Taking Advantage of Them Couldn't Be Easier, Writes Leanne Ryan

Newspaper article Daily News (Warwick, Australia)

Higher Education Just a Login Away; Academic Freebies Are Up for Grabs Online and Taking Advantage of Them Couldn't Be Easier, Writes Leanne Ryan

Article excerpt

YOU know that thing you do when you feel like you've unlocked a secret of the universe?

That thing where you compulsively share it with everyone you know, managing to weave it into every conversation you have?

I'm doing that.

The secret in a neat little acronym? MOOCs -- massive open online courses.

MOOCs are in the almost-too-good-to-be-true realm of cyberspace.

They're bite-sized university courses on subjects from astrophysics right through to philosophy.

They're delivered online, to access at your convenience, by some of the top institutions in the world.

They're available to anyone, based anywhere, with an internet connection and a few hours screen time each week to spare.

And the juiciest part of the secret is: They can be taken for free.

You don't receive a formal qualification and it gets a little complicated if you're after official certification, with costs and proof of ID generally involved, but if you're just looking for a shot of convenient, accessible academia, it's a ridiculously golden opportunity to acquire knowledge.

EdX and Coursera are the two big guns in the MOOCs game, with an impressive list of unis from around the world running courses on their platforms. Open2Study is the Australian player, hosted by Open Universities Australia.

I decided to give edX a whirl.

With little more than an email addy and a password, I created an account, checked out the offerings, and signed up for a 10-week University of Queensland biomedical imaging course.

A few weeks later, I added an eight-week University of Washington resilience course to my dashboard.

Random, perhaps, but that's one of the great things about MOOCs -- you can pursue whatever grabs your interest.

If you're curious about aeronautical engineering, there's a course for that.

Computer programming? That too.

If you want to learn more about The Bard, explore alien worlds or master quantum mechanics, you can, just like that.

At the moment edX has 210 courses on offer, Coursera a whopping 688, and Open2Study 49. …

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