Periodically, I think about going back to school to pursue a Master's degree. The subject matter varies — at first it was graphic design, then it was an MBA, and recently I've been fantasizing about a degree in gastronomy. Besides my indecision, a formal advanced education is time-consuming and expensive (plus, I have enough student loans from undergrad, thankyouverymuch). So what's a busy, cash-strapped lover of learning to do? Luckily, there are local and national online resources for those who want to upgrade their education for free!
In this case, local is also world-class. edX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University that offers online learning to on-campus students and to millions of people around the world. Currently offering HarvardX, MITx and BerkeleyX classes online for free, WellesleyX and GeorgetownX classes will be added in fall 2013.
In his State of the City address, Mayor Menino announced a collaboration between the city of Boston and edX. BostonX will focus on job and interview skills, computer literacy, and other gaps and barriers to success.
Being overachievers, MIT also has a separate platform called OpenCourseWare. Much of their curriculum, over 2,000 courses, is offered on the site. Scott Young gave a TEDx talk where he explained how he did MIT's entire computer science undergrad program for under $2,000 (the cost of textbooks). A huge savings on $42,000 a year, am I right?
With a user-friendly interface and a catalog offering subjects strange and familiar, Coursera is often people's first stop for online education. You can study songwriting from Berklee College of Music professors or even Equine Nutrition from the University of Edinburgh without leaving the couch. Melissa and I are currently taking Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention through UCSF, and if we choose, could get an authenticated certificate of completion through their Signature Track software.
The Craiglist of online lectures, Open Culture offers little frills, but has an extensive list of online classes and one-off lectures from a wide variety of universities. Whether they're hosted on social media platforms like YouTube or iTunes, or on third-party websites, if you can't find what you want elsewhere, Open Culture is likely to point you towards it.
Have you taken any online classes? Share your thoughts in the comments or tweet us at @DIYBoston!
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About the Authors
Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out
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