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How to Further Your Education with Online Classes

With a growing number of online education platforms available, it's easier than ever to earn college credit or simply learn a new skill online. Tech Talker covers the basics of getting started with e-learning in this week's episode.

By
Eric Escobar
March 27, 2014
Episode #118

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Get started with online classes

Have you ever thought about taking a class online? Maybe you wanted to earn college credit or just learn a new skill? If so, stick around because this week I'll be going over the best ways to take online classes.

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As many of you know, I'm a fairly recent college graduate, having completed my civil engineering Master's degree at California State University, Fresno. If you had asked me two years ago if I was interested in taking a class for fun, I would have just started laughing! Call me nostalgic, but now I miss college and going to classes, not to mention learning some pretty awesome things every day.

That's why I started taking classes online to learn about subjects I didn't take (or didn't give my full attention to) in college. This included economics, finance, and cryptography to name a few.

How to Take Online Courses

My two favorite websites for courses are edX.org and coursera.org. These websites host classes from top universities such as Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley. Granted, you won’t get any credit for taking these classes other than a certificate of completion, but they are great ways to get a high quality education at little or no cost.

I’ve personally taken a number of these classes and they are excellent. You can watch videos of lectures, ask questions, and become a member of the community. It’s as close to a classroom experience as you can get without actually sitting there.

Another awesome part about taking these classes is the breadth of material that is covered. Just taking a glance at edX.org, I found these classes starting soon: Robot Mechanics, Principles of Written English, Evaluating Social Programs, Introduction to Biomedical Imaging, Introduction to Baseball Analytics, and Introduction to Linux. There are about 150 more in the list, but you get the idea.

The curriculum stretches into nearly any field and skill level and is free to audit. This means you can view the entire course for free, but if you want to take it for a completion certificate you’ll have to pay a fee for the class.

Personally, I just take the classes for free because I’m interested in the topics. If you wanted to pad your résumé, though, these classes couldn’t hurt. One thing that I absolutely love about these classes is that you can rewind and re-watch a lecture if you want. That way you can learn at your own pace and don’t have to worry about falling behind.

Now that you know that all of these great free courses are out there, it may be tempting to sign up for a whole bunch of them at once because they all sound so good! I'd caution you not to do this. Instead, start with just one. I know from personal experience that if you commit to too many off the bat, it's easy to get in over your head and not follow through. Then you will be wasting your time.

Here's a How It Works video from the edX website if you want to get a quick overview of the process.

Now let's look at online courses that give you college credit upon completion.

How to Take Online Courses for Credit

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