Education is changing. With university tuitions on the rise, college education is becoming inaccessible to many, increasingly seen as a luxury rather than a necessity.
For motivated students looking to avoid the horrors of paying college tuitions and student loans, the internet offers various educational tools. Although not necessarily a full replacement for traditional education, the internet now offers an impressive access to knowledge that holds infinite possibilities for the future of education.
The following is a list of top free online education options. It includes a spectrum of possibilities, from picking up a new language to learning how to code, from live lectures to self-paced learning.
Coursera launched about two years ago when Stanford University computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller partnered with top professors at four universities (Stanford University, Princeton University, University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania) to offer free online courses. Each course is taught by a college professor, who posts video lectures, problem sets, assignments and hosts even virtual office hours.
Since launching, Coursera has partnered with over 100 universities, released an iOS application, and recently teamed up with the U.S. State Department to create learning hubs all over the world.
Founded in 2011 by Carnegie Mellon University professor Luis von Ahn and his graduate student, Severin Hacker, Duolingo is a free language-learning and crowdsourced text translation platform. Its brilliant model allows users to learn a free language while simultaneously helping to translate websites.
Today, Duolingo offers six different languages (Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian, French, and German) and a free iOS application for language learning on the go. Currently, the company is working on a language incubator “where volunteers give life to new Duolingo language courses.”
Codecademy was created by Ryan Bubinski and Zach Sims in 2011, had 450,000 users in 2012, and is still growing today.
4. Khan Academy
In 2008, three-time MIT graduate Salman Khan pioneered the tech education movement by launching Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a virtual tutoring aid with a mission to “provide a free education for anyone anywhere.” Each user has a personalized smart dashboard that keeps track of all completed lessons. It also entails a gamification element that offers badges for subject mastery.
Today, Khan Academy offers over 100,000 free practice problems, more than 5,000 videos, and has an average of 10 million unique users per month.
5. TED Talks
What started out as a global conference of ideas worth spreading in 1984 has become a series of conferences in which motivational speakers give 20-minute TED Talks on a variety of subjects, from technology to lifestyle to urbanism.
Since 2006, all TED talks have been available for free online, receiving over one billion views to date.
Are We There Yet?
Some of us imagine a future world without universities, without professors, where everything we want to learn is available at the click of a button.
As online platforms become more prominent and sophisticated, they come closer to offering an experience that goes beyond providing knowledge. Who knows? With the possibility of holograms and traveling at the speed of light, the education of the future is probably far from what we imagine.