Free Online Classes

Find a class that piques your interest

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If you’re new to learning through the internet, want to test out a class, need to brush up on some skills for your credit classes, or just want to learn a few new facts, you’ll want to check out one of the many free courses available online. Although these courses don’t provide college credit, they do give students a lot of information and can be a valuable supplement to your regular studies. There are two main types of online courses: independent courses that are made exclusively for the internet, and open courseware classes that are designed for actual classrooms.


 

Independent Courses

Independent courses are made especially for e-learners. From poetry to financial planning, there's something out there for everyone.

About.com offers a number of online courses available by email. Readers can select the courses they want and learn through course materials sent in the form of a newsletter. There are many subjects available; just search for your favorite topics on the About site. The Busy Cooks guide, for example, has a number of email courses about how to bake and Small Business will show you how to set up and manage a business. Also, VeryWell cover a variety of health problems, including heart and thyroid disease, high blood pressure, eye diseases, and colds, in addition to offering practical ways to stay healtht and find affordable prescription drugs. Just sign up for the classes you want, and they’ll show up in your inbox.

Brigham Young University has a number of online courses offered for credit to paying students, but they also offer free classes that are open to the general public.

Although these classes do not offer interaction among peers, they have a sensible set up and often provide useful information. One of the most common subjects offered is genealogy; BYU has quite a few specialized courses to help genealogists locate their personal family information. A number of religious courses are also available.



Stanford University offers free lectures, interviews, and material that are avaliable for download on iTunes.

Free-ed.net offers a variety of courses that include materials completely online. Some even have free online textbooks. The Information Technology programs are some of the best and include step-by-step instructions on mastering various types of computer skills.

The Small Business Administration provides dozens of links to courses that teach you how to plan, start, market, and run a successful business, and also how to apply for grants and loans.

The Teaching Company sells audio and video classes taught by top professors. However, if you sign up for their email newsletter, they will send you occasional free lectures that can be downloaded and saved.
 

Open Courseware

Open courseware programs are designed to give students around the world access to course materials actually used in university classrooms. Participating colleges post syllabi, assignments, calendars, lecture notes, readings, and other materials online, making it easy for self-learners to study the topic on their own terms. Open courseware programs do not require registration or charge tuition. However, they  do not award credits or allow for interaction with a professor.



Want to take an MIT course for free? MIT’s open courseware program offers students around the world access to materials and assignments used in actual classrooms. More than 1,000 courses are currently available.

Tufts University also offers a handful of quality open courseware classes as does Utah State University and John Hopkins University.

More Free Online Courses

There are so many free online courses they can't be listed in one place. To see more free online course, check out these subject-specific directories:

Free Online Writing Classes

Free Online Computer Classes

Free Online Business Classes

Free Online Cooking Classes

Free Online Language Classes

Free Online Religion Classes

Jamie Littlefield is a writer and instructional designer. She can be reached on Twitter or through her educational coaching website: jamielittlefield.com.