There is certainly not a lack of resources for education online. From fully virtual learning institutions that offer degrees and certificates, to free educational material, you really can find information on just about anything online. Depending on what you are looking for, the following are a few categories and examples of where to find online courses.
Full college level degrees and certificates.
Two of the most popular, or widely recognized organization to search for online courses are DeVry University and University of Phoenix. Both of these have been specializing in distance education for a long time and with the evolution of the internet have naturally expanded their educational field to using online classes. Simply searching for the phrase “Online colleges” will pull up a decent list of accredited universities.
Which is one of the most important things to remember if you are looking for a legitimate and recognized degree online: the institution must be accredited. You can contact the governing body for your country or region and verify an organization’s standing. It is highly advised to be aware of online colleges that cannot be verified, as there are a group of them who obtained certification outside of a region and use that to claim being legitimate.
College level courses that offer training but not certification.
There is another way to find full courses with no cost.The downside is you cannot get an official certificate or degree, but you can get the knowledge, that for some fields, would allow you to challenge the qualification test for the certification.
Many IT related certificates that are in demand can either be obtained after taking a series of paid courses that are designed to prepare you for the test, or you can take the test after your own preparation.
The “Open Education Database” or OEDb, is an index of sites that you can search for available free courses from. Many require signing up (either through a singular email or social account) but you can find a wide variety of no-cost courses online that can help enhance your current education, or even give you an insight into what sort of information you may expect to learn from an actual degree-granting course. They also have an index for finding tuition based online colleges that offer a degree you are interested in.
College courses for free with recognition.
This may not get you a degree, but they do come with recognition when you complete them. The courses offered on “Coursera” are all hosted by accredited universities and colleges around the world who have partnered together and offer them for free. Many of them are learn at you own pace, or have a set schedule of dates and classes. You can find anything from “Calculus One” from The Ohio State University, to “What Future for Education” from the University of London.
Another site, that is built on the same premise of helping anyone get an education, is “Academic Earth”. Though these also may have not practical application, depending on the course, they are a great way to enhance or gain knowledge about a subject. If nothing else, sites like these are great ways to prepare for taking a paid college course. This is particularly true of the fundamental courses, such as calculus and any other higher math course that is often required for a degree.
Online courses are also often offered at local colleges and universities.
This is particularly true for community colleges, where there are often programs designed to help enhance community education. It is always worth the time to investigate local institutions that are within a 50 or 100 mile radius to see what they may offer for online courses. A lot of times they can be a great way to also prepare for seeking a higher degree
As you can see, there are many options for taking an online course, all of which carry varying costs and benefits. Before enrolling in a course, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you wish to get out of it. For example, if you want accreditation, then your options may change slightly.