A group of leading UK universities have launched free online courses to students over the internet. With degrees now costing up to £9,000 a year, how do the freebie courses compare?
They’ve been a hit over in the US, and now British universities including Bristol, Leeds and Warwick are getting in on the act by now offering free online uni courses (or Moocs – Massive Open Online Courses).
The idea is to make higher education more accessible to more people. Moocs are open to anyone in the world via the internet, you don’t have a £9,000 price tag and most don’t require any qualifications or experience.
Instead of physically attending lectures, university materials and resources are posted online and students are able to fit the short courses around their everyday lives. And you can even complete them on-the-go on your tablet or smartphone.
While the courses aren’t designed as a replacement or equivalent to university degrees and aren’t accredited, could they tempt you back into study?
Back to the ‘classroom’
The UK pilot courses include ‘Causes of War’ from King’s College London, ‘Climate Change’ from the University of Exeter and – one I’ve just signed up for – ‘The Secret Power of Brands’ from the University of East Anglia.
Coursera, EdX and Udacity are three of the leading US Mooc providers, offering more than 200 courses between them.
According to the UK’s online provider, FutureLearn (set up by the Open University), the aim is ‘to connect learners from all over the globe with high-quality educators, and with each other’. Interaction with fellow students via online forums and discussion boards is key and forms an important part of the learning process.
Enrolling for a Mooc – do or don’t?
- No tuition fees!
- No entry requirements or prior experience needed (in most cases), so you could pick any course that grabs your eye.
- You could learn from experts on the other side of the world.
- You can get a feel for what degree study is like before you apply to university.
- Courses are often short and flexible.
- It won’t replace a university degree, as most courses aren’t accredited.
- US course providers have seen very high drop-out rates.
- You won’t experience the face-to-face student and tutor interaction that comes with classroom-based courses.
Do you think higher education can work online? Are there any Moocs that have caught your eye?