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Everything You Need to Know about Taking Courses from Top Universities Online [Distance Learning]

By Samantha Kirk*

Bummed about not getting into your dream Ivy League school? Perhaps you are an international student aspiring to take tertiary studies abroad but is unable to do so? Thanks to the Internet, you too can get a world-class education without having to enroll, travel for miles or spend tons of dollars to study. Study Art classes from Harvard or take on the challenge of studying Economics courses from Cornell and UC Berkeley all from the privacy of your own home.

Many sites nowadays offer videos of lectures from top-notch universities around the world available for free online. These free college courses on the web are more popularly known as "Massive Open Online Courses" or MOOCs. Non-traditional students (old returning students and stay-at-home parents for example) can benefit greatly from these platforms for it allows them to take their classes at their own pace and time.

Signing up for classes is so easy. No long lines to the school registrar and none of the expensive price tag that comes with getting a great education to expect here! All one has to do is to literally sign up or set up an account at one of the many sites that offer these classes. Other sites operate without the sign-up process and just make do by just having a database of various YouTube links to lectures. Those regularly on the move would be happy to hear that a few of these online courses are available on iTunes which they can download and bring with everywhere they go.

These different methods for getting classes also means that there are different levels of interactions between the students and their lessons. Some sites offer exercises to go along with their videos. If you want to test your skills for a particular course then this is the right path for you to take. Others provide additional features by creating online forums, web chats and video conferencing facilities together with the course material to allow for a more interactive learning experience. This is a great option for those who want to get to know their professors and fellow students for an approach that's more akin to the classic classroom setting. Depending on the site that hosts the videos, completing a program or two earns the student a certificate which they can use for career advancement.

Not all of these MOCCs grant their students college credits though, in the case of Harvard University's Extension School, online courses can be credited and can help students build on their degrees. In the renowned Ivy League school's program, students take their online and on-campus courses at the same time. Catered to the less traditional type of student, classes here are held at night to accommodate the special needs of this type of student.

Whatever your current situation calls for, there is a program out there that's meant for you. Don't let age, finances or work stop you from learning!

Interested in trying out the courses for yourself? Look for the sites below and choose the one that fits your interests and needs best:

https://www.udacity.com/ http://academicearth.org/

Check out also some other major players on MOOCs

(*) Samantha Kirk is a consultant for some of Australia's best essay and education sites. She is currently studying for her MA in Teaching for the Early Years. Follow her on Twitter!

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