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2020-01 MOOCs

Learn Something New in 2020!

It’s a new decade! Don’t live in the past…it’s time to learn something new. There are countless things you can learn in your spare time. In fact, whether personally or professionally, it’s probably harder to narrow down the list of things to learn than to create it in the first place. So we’re here to help.

Whether you choose to learn locally or online, this year we’re going to be bringing you new ways to exercise your brain every month, from learning general skills to business skills to money skills to skills for healthy living and more. Get ready to learn!


This month we’re introducing you to MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are courses delivered online and accessible to all for free. Top providers include Coursera (, edX (, Udemy (www, and FutureLearn (

A History

In the early 2000s, the Open Education Resources (OER) movement was born in the United States. Although a few other organizations had been involved earlier in a less visible way, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is cited as the pioneer of making courses available on the internet. In September 2002, the beta version of MIT OpenCourseWare was made public with dozens of MIT courses available online, free of charge and in fact, the very first MOOC ever, MIT’s Circuits and Electronics course, is still available today.

The term Massive Open Online Course was used for the first time by Georges Siemens and Dave Cormier in reference to Stephen Downes and Georges Siemens’ “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” (CCK08) course. The course was given in 2008 at the University of Manitoba, in Canada, and taken by 25 students who attended in-class courses as well as 2,300 Internet users

But it wasn’t until 2011 that MOOCs really took off. Sebastien Thrun and Peter Norvig, respectively Professor at Stanford University and Research Director at Google, announced that one of their courses would be given for free on the internet. In just a few weeks, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” had over 160,000 enrollees ready to follow the first lessons.

The 4 Characteristics of MOOCs

MOOCs are available online, often free of charge, and provided by recognizable institutions. They all have 4 characteristics in common: they leverage web formats (streaming video), are collaborative (social Q&A formats, meetups), contain evaluation modules (there are tests or essays), and are limited in time (they have specified start and end dates and content is delivered sequentially, usually weekly).


The Leading Platforms


World-class learning is right at your fingertips when you visit Coursera offers literally thousands of college courses taught by professors at the most well-regarded universities in the U.S. and around the world on a range of topics so broad you can find anything you’re interested in. Quickly browse the catalog and you’ll see courses in Languages, Health, Math, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, Arts & Humanities, Business, Personal Development and more.


Founded in 2012 by Harvard and MIT, edX is home to more than 20 million learners, the majority of top-ranked universities in the world and industry-leading companies, edX offers courses in a range of subjects, from architecture to business & management, computer science, food and nutrition, law, literature, math, philosophy, science, and more.

EdX also offers MicroMasters programs, a series of graduate level courses from top universities that provide deep learning in a specific career field and are recognized by employers for their real job relevance. Through the program, students can pursue an accelerated and less expensive Master’s Degree.


Udemy boasts the world’s largest selection of courses. Students can choose from over 100,000 online video courses, with new additions published every month, with topics ranging from software development to graphic design, personal development to photography, business courses, music and more. Courses start at $12.99 and come with a 30-day guarantee.


FutureLearning allows students to choose unlimited courses, ranging from Mergers & Acquisitions to Forensic Psychology and everything in between. When students sign up for a course they can choose from a free option, which gives access to a course for 6 weeks, or an upgraded option for $59 which gives access to the course content for however long it’s on the site, or, for an annual $249 subscription they have access to all courses on the site for however long the course is on the site, and allows a full year to complete a course.


As the world of distance learning has evolved, one thing that hasn’t changed is that you’re able to learn at your own pace, 100% online, and better yet, if you’re not looking for credit, 99% of the time it’s free!

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