Coursera : Learn a new skill for free

Welcome to 2016!

I hope everyone had a cracking festive break, and is ready to meet the new year head on… Me, I spent some of my holidays (no surprise here) online and doing techie stuff, as well as checking out some newer apps to tell you about over the coming weeks. I’ve found some real gems – as well as a couple of disappointing doozies for you to avoid – so watch this space to find out what’s hot, and what’s not 😉

Coursera is a great find…

Sad to say (but also a little proud), I am one of life’s constant self-improvers … always trying to better myself and learn new stuff – be that for my job or simply for myself. But as it is for most of us, my appetite for education is always far greater than my budget! So I’ve been on the lookout for free online learning tools.

Coursera is an app that brings together training, learning and education courses, delivered through short video tutorial modules, presented by lecturers from reputable colleges in both the UK and USA. Yep, I’m even talking UCL, Stanford and John Hopkins here!

The best thing is that all the courses are free. You can dip in and out, and take them at your own pace – you can re-watch earlier tutorials, pause and rewind whilst you make notes, or skip subjects that don’t interest you or you feel you have a good grasp of already. You can be as studiously scrupulous as you want to be (…or not – no one’s going to mark you down if you miss a deadline or skip a class).

There are a whole range of different subjects to dive into: from Roman Architecture to Grammar & Punctuation, from the Fundamentals of Graphic Design to Finance, Mathematics, Languages, Law, Economics, History, Art, Science, Technology, Business, Programming… (pause for breath!) …and all sorts of everything in between. And these are not just beginner’s courses that pay lip service to the subject matter: you do actually learn stuff!

If learning for learning’s sake is all well and good but you really would like to have something to show for it, then there is an option to pay to be certified for your course completion. I must admit that I haven’t coughed up for this one yet, so please don’t enquire about the legitimacy or credibility that certification brings. It costs $79 (that’s about £50, right?) per course for this option – so if you want CV worthy accomplishments this surely must at least warrant looking into. [If anyone knows any more about the certification side and wishes to let me know, please leave me your comments below…]

Finally though, I must report one small downer on this app. It would appear to be data hungry – some of the presentations take a while to load, and a couple of the overview ones on courses I’ve tried don’t seem to connect/load at all. That being said, this has not been a big issue for me – free learning is free learning, afterall – but I thought I should point out the smallest of flies in the ointment.

Take a look, get learning – and let me know how you get along! 🙂