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The Best Websites for Free Online Courses, Certificates, Degrees, and Educational Resources

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Have you thought about expanding your knowledge by taking some courses? There are several colleges and other sites that offer free online courses, certificate programs, some degree programs, and education resources for teachers and professors.

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare offers free lecture notes, exams, and videos from classes at MIT. OpenCourseWare (OCW) was proposed by the MIT faculty in 2000 and they have been publishing educational materials from their courses freely and openly on the Internet since the first proof-of-concept site in 2002, containing 50 courses. By November 2007, MIT had published almost the entire curriculum, over 1,800 courses in 33 academic disciplines.

No registration is required to take advantage of these educational materials.

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OpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium

The OpenCourseWare (OCW) Consortium is a free and openly licensed digital publication of high quality college and university‐level educational materials organized as courses. These courses often include course planning materials and evaluation tools and are accessible to anyone, anytime online.

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edX

EdX is a joint, not-for-profit partnership between The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University to offer MIT and Harvard classes online for free to millions of people around the world. The first set of courses will be announced in the summer and will begin in the Fall 2012.

From the edX website:

EdX is based on MITx, a technological platform from MIT designed to offer online versions of their courses. These versions include: video lessons, embedded testing, real-time feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, collaborative web-based laboratories, and student paced learning.

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Open Yale Courses

The Open Yale Courses website provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The lectures were recorded in the Yale College classrooms and are available in video, audio, and text transcript formats. You are not required to register for online classes. However, you will NOT receive course credit, a degree, or a certificate.

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The Open University

The Open University (OU) provides high-quality university education online to anyone. Nearly all of the undergraduate courses they offer do not require prior qualifications or experience.

The OU has developed their own style of distance learning called “supported open learning.” That means you, as a student, can work wherever you choose and plan your study around your other commitments. You receive support from a tutor or online forum and have contact with other students in your own region or online. You also have access to student advisors and study facilities in your own region.

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FreeEdNet

FreeEdNet is a collection of various courses, tutorials, and learning materials available on the web, including some the people at FreeEdNet are developing themselves. The courses are free and, normally, there is no sign-up. Simply find a course and start working on it.

NOTE: FreeEdNet is not intended to replace your formal education at a reputable, degree-granting school. Use FreeEdNet to review material you previously learned in school, prepare for a job or school placement exams, extend your vocational skills, or even learn more theoretical information about your work, hobby, or special interest.

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Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online (ALISON)

ALISON provides high-quality, engaging, interactive multimedia courseware for certification and standards-based learning free to the individual learner. You can learn anywhere using their interactive, self-paced multimedia.

Nominal fees are charged for the use of the ALISON Manager, a service that allows teachers, trainers, tutors, and HR managers to easily and effectively oversee, manage, and report on the online learning of groups of students. However, if you are an individual learner, you do not need to create a group or become a member of a group. Simply begin your study by clicking on a course of your choice.

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Online Education Database

The Online Education Database (OEDB) has compiled 200 online courses from big universities, such as MIT, Yale, and Tufts. You can take classes from these universities without having to submit an application or pay any tuition.

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Annenberg Learner

Annenberg Learner provides free multimedia resources to help teachers increase their expertise in their fields and assist them in improving their teaching methods, thereby advancing excellent teaching in American schools. The professional development of K-12 teachers is supported through the distribution of educational video programs with coordinated Web and print materials.

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University of the People

University of the People is a tuition-free, non-profit institution that provides online education to individuals all over the world. The University does not charge you to take classes, for any reading and other study materials, or for annual enrollment.

NOTE: In order to remain sustainable, the University of the People does charge small processing fees for application and examination processing.

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Webcasts at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley offers a central campus service, called webcast.berkeley, for recording and publishing course and campus events for students at UC Berkeley, as well as for learners around the globe. Since 2001, webcast.berkeley has now made over 16,000 hours of content available on the site for UC Berkeley students and for the world as a whole.

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Open Culture

Open Culture is a website that focuses on educational media collected from other sites. Download free courses from universities in MP3 format, as well as language lessons as podcasts and a variety of other podcasts that cover subjects such as technology, travel, music, science, and more. You can also find audiobooks, movies, and eBooks on the site.

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GCFLearnFree

GCFLearnFree provides free, quality, innovative online learning, in over 750 different lessons, for anyone who wants to improve their technology, literacy, and math skills. You can learn what you want, when you want. View one tutorial or complete a whole class.

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Google Code University

Google Code University has gathered a large collection of educational materials to help you learn how to program, whether you want to learn how to program in C++, Java, or Python, or program your website using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There is also course content contributed by other industries and academic institutions to help teach subjects such as Android programming and Web programming to people all over the world. You can find tutorials and introductions, courses on advanced or specialized topics, recorded video lectures and talks, and courses with problem sets and exercises at GCU.

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Now that you’re all set to expand your knowledge with some free courses, How-To Geek can provide you with some awesome apps and resources to help you get textbooks, software you might need, online tools, and even how to start a blog to help fill your portfolio. If you’re attending college in person, we have some tips on how to email your professor and get a quick response if you need help. Whether you’re taking free classes online or attending college, you can keep track of your homework assignments using an online service, called Soshiku.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 06/30/12

Comments (23)

  1. rizzoli

    AWESOME Lori! Thanks!

  2. joE

    Just what I needed. I am also taking some classes in Udacity.com and cs50.tv. Thanks

  3. azbuco

    coursera.org

  4. cos

    Nice collection of resources. Any chance of any of these online ‘universities’ to provide some sort of certificates or diplomas?

  5. Anubhab Pal

    another one from Indian Institute of technology and Indian Institute of Science

    NPTEL

    http://nptel.iitm.ac.in/

  6. Al Dixon

    What you have shown is a great service, a free education to everyone in the world with a dream will eventually bring many millions of people from the prison of poverty.

    Somehow the Kahn Academy was not mentioned? It is becoming the free educational base for many schools, even in the USA. Its accomplishments are extremely impressive. http://www.khanacademy.org

    Has anyone found a good comparative study of the resources available?

  7. zbiger

    GCF learn free provide certification if you subscribe for online course

  8. Rahul

    Awesome!!! Great list.

  9. keith

    Why is there no facebook share button? I’d like to post this to my wall, but I have to leave the site to do it.

  10. Joe

    No discussion of free online educational material is complete without mentioning iTunes U.

  11. AHI

    Thank you man….you are great….LONG LIVE howtogeek!

  12. Shubham

    THANKS bro… it is lovely…

  13. Aussie

    Wow…What a List! Thank you Howtogeek…..Thank you Author.
    Provide more more Info So long….
    may i wish you Good Luck “howtogeek.com”

  14. Dinesh kr

    very useful !!

  15. Sandy

    Very useful.Thanx!!!!!

  16. fatima

    I like free edu online It is very useful and it is a great source to get education thanks

  17. cg

    You missed Khan Academy :-)

  18. GCFLearnFree.org

    Thanks for listing GCFLearnFree.org! We’re always adding new content and updating tutorials so feel free to check back often to see what new content we’ve launched! ^Jess

  19. deno

    ANY WEBSITE FOR MASTERS/ GRADUATE PROGRAMS?

  20. Taksh Sharma

    There’s one more that i loved – Coursera.org.

  21. Jean-Paul Sauve

    There is a brief writeup of a few of the most interesting online resources available here:
    http://dotcadot.ca/content/free-online-learning-materials
    The one I would add to your list is http://www.udacity.com

  22. Kennita Watson

    What about the Khan Academy?

    Live long and prosper,
    Kennita

  23. Online Courses

    Awesome..Very nice collection…i like it..

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