Go online to take free courses from leading professors

If you’re looking for an opportunity to engage in free, college-level learning on topics of personal and professional interest, think about taking a MOOC or two.

MOOC is short for Massive Open Online Course, a form of learning that started to become popular about a decade ago. A typical MOOC is a short-term, non-credit, continuing education course on an academic or professional topic, taught by leading professors in their fields. The course usually mixes online text, pdfs, recorded lectures, and various exercises, quizzes, and tests. Although students enrolled in a MOOC usually do not have direct interaction with the professors who prepared it, they do get the benefit of watching faculty lectures and reading their publications.

You can enroll in most MOOCs for free, though you’ll often have to pay a fee for a formal certificate of completion that can be listed on a resume.

Two of the leading providers of MOOCs are Coursera and EdX.  The UK’s pioneering Open University offers free online courses through its OpenLearn portal. You can also utilize Mooc List to search for other MOOC offerings.

I’ve taken several MOOCs over the years, including “The Science of Happiness,” offered through EdX and taught by professors associated with the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkeley, and “Psychological First Aid,” offered through Coursera and taught by a professor at Johns Hopkins University. The Psychological First Aid course is required for students enrolled in my Law and Psychology Lab at Suffolk University Law School.

If you’re interested in exploring the vast array of free courses available online, then I recommend checking out the sites I provided above. They may be of special interest to those of you who are looking for easily accessible, no-cost intellectual pursuits while we continue to get through the coronavirus pandemic.

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