If you have ever considered distance learning, these educational platforms may have just what you’re looking for


There is no denying that online learning has become popular in recent years. Advocates of this alternative educational experience argue that its rise in popularity is closely linked to soaring higher ed tuition costs.

Moreover, in the case of the massive open online course (MOOC), the advantages of a free, quality education which participants can receive in the comfort of their home – provided that they have an internet connection – are very appealing.

Critics of online learning state that participants do not receive actual credits toward a traditional degree; allege that it’s for-profit and is a scam; and that the deficit in course completion rates requires a rethinking of the model’s effectiveness.

eCampus News has compiled a list of some of the best online platforms for higher ed. Factors taken into consideration include what type of degree participants seek, platform credibility, and the type of course offerings.

Have you taken an online course? Share your views and opinions in the comments section below and join the conversation on Twitter @ecampusnews.

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1.   Coursera

Coursera is a free learning platform affiliated with major universities and organizations worldwide to offer courses online that students can complete at their own pace.

Students using the platform can work toward a full degree or specialized degrees, or just get a jump-start on college courses. Coursera offers dozens of STEM courses to choose from and humanities. For example, brush up on your Calculus or take a survey course on the modern Middle East.

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Coursera offers the same official languages used at the United Nations – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Although participants do not earn course credit, some students currently enrolled at other universities can receive credit for taking these courses at their own university (sometimes as individual research units).

2.  Open2Study

Have you ever wanted to visit Australia? With a secure internet connection, you do not have to make the long journey to the “land down under.” Open2Study delivers free, high-quality education online from leading experts at Australian universities.

The courses are free and you can choose anything from science and technology to business and marketing. Open2Study is not an accredited education provider. However upon successful completion, you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement, which you can use to demonstrate your interest in learning about a certain area.

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3.  Udemy

Udemy is a premier global forum for education and teaching with over three million students and 16,000 courses. Udemy’s expansion took a new turn with the recent partnership announcement with the social media giant Hootsuite, to expand its social media marketing course offerings on its corporate learning platform

Udemy offers scores of STEM and humanities courses, and users can choose from courses in the extensive database. After completing a course, users can download their certificate. Currently, courses are not designed for college credit and fees range from free to $500, based on the topic and length of the course.

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4.  Canvas.net

With 4.5 million users, Canvas Network offers open, online courses taught by educators everywhere. Powered by the Canvas learning management system, Canvas Network provides a place and platform where teachers, students, and institutions worldwide can connect and chart their own course for personal growth, professional development, and academic inquiry.

A not-for-credit platform, Canvas Network offers dozens of courses to help enhance your skills whether its taking a math refresher with college tips or an introduction to cybersecurity.

Canvas Network is developed and supported by Instructure, an education technology company that partners with educators, institutions, and technologists to build open educational resources and break down barriers to learning.

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5.  Iversity

Unlike Coursera, the Germany-based MOOC Iversity collaborates with professors and they create their own courses. Also contrary to their American counterparts, Iversity does not focus on elite universities, but rather the specific skills and abilities of each educator.

This free platform has video lectures and interactive quizzes, and participants can receive a Certificate of Accomplishment upon successful completion. Iversity is expanding MOOCs into the European system of higher education, and participants can also receive ECTS credit in several subjects.

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Michael Sharnoff is Associate Online Editor at eCampus News. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_eSM.

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