• Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Mastura Tasnim

“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
It's also a bad choice when we look at how many free online courses are out there to help us out with virtually anything that piques our interest. Thanks moreover to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) which have made it much easier to get hold of video lectures, written material and discussions of the top professors from the top universities of the world. Some of them even offer certificates on course completion and although they are not widely recognized, the knowledge gained is very useful, especially if you are having trouble understanding a subject in your regular classes.
Let's have a look the top education platforms available:
Coursera: By far the most popular among Bangladeshi university students now, it is a site that offers 400+ courses over 20 categories by 85 universities, including universities like Princeton and Stanford. There are video lectures, quizzes and discussions with other course-takers. The best feature of Coursera? The data organization. It's a step by step process for each course so that you feel like you're a part of the classroom. Videos of lessons make you feel like you are sitting in class, and you get to take a glimpse at how lessons in top universities work. A physics course in MIT contains a video of the octogenarian professor quite literally swinging from one end of the classroom to the other on top of a pendulum to demonstrate a theory!

Khan Academy: Founded by Salman Khan, son of a Non-Resident Bangladeshi, Khan Academy is perhaps the go to spot for all secondary school students wishing to improve their knowledge from scratch. Even university students will find the website of great use as the subjects taught, from mathematics to healthcare, tend to encompass tertiary education as well. It has a personalized learning dashboard that keeps progress scores and the website is so interactive that it's sometimes just fun to browse at random.
MOOC: As part of the movement to free information, many top universities of the world have made collections of free online courses straight from their classrooms. MIT OpenCourseWare was one of the first MOOCs to enter the scene in 2000 and now includes more than 1800 courses in 33 disciplines. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke and many other Ivy League universities offer similar courses. UC Berkeley offers great webcasts though the text that goes along with it is not available. Open Culture, a site that combines courses from many of the Top Universities, is equally helpful.
The right way to go about these open courses is to select the subjects you're interested in and Google search the lead university in the field. Chances are, the top universities offers open courses on that particular field and that will provide you with the maximum utility for the time you are putting in.
If you're on the run and just need an overview of an old idea, University of Pennsylvania offers 60-second lectures on everything from science to religious studies on their Youtube channel '60-Second Lectures'.
The internet is filled with many other interesting, intriguing and eye-opening courses that can help with regular studies or just satiate curious minds. If you have always dreamed of an Ivy League education but faced obstacles, and if you have the passion to know more than just what school has to offer, online education is definitely for you.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, January 30, 2014

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