Rather than a mere trend, online education is now considered mainstream. It is an approach to education that allows students to learn in their own pace and time, synchronously or asynchronously, through various information-communication technology tools and channels. Also called distance learning or distance education, this set-up veers away from the traditional face-to-face classroom setup while still adapting the principles of delivering quality education.
A Quick Look at the Evolution of Distance Learning
Distance learning is nothing new! A Distance Education and the Evolution of Online Learning in the United States study by Hope E. Kentnor, Ph.D. at the University of Denver reveals that shows that this method started in the late 1800s and rose to popularity in the 1900s. Out-of-state students would receive their learning materials by postal service, and were then asked to mail back their completed work for grading. This was the era of parcel post type of education.
Distance learning by radio happened in 1906, as the University of Wisconsin (formerly University of Wisconsin-Extension) was founded as a distance-teaching unit. From 1917 to 1919, the professors of the said university started with an amateur wireless station known as WHA, now known as WPR or Wisconsin Public Radio. It was the first federally-licensed radio station in Madison, WI which was solely dedicated to educational broadcasting at the time it was founded.
Thomas Edison witnessed the significant rise in the way visual media was used to study the sciences.
saw how this learning arrangement benefited all stakeholders. He stated, “Books will be obsolete in the public schools. Scholars will be instructed through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years.”
Current Trends on Distance Learning and Free Online Courses
Distance learning was seen in a different light because of the birth of computers, particularly starting in the late 90s. Fast-forward to the Fall 2018 academic year, the number of distance education enrollees surged to 12.7 million, says the National Center for Education Statistics.
And then the pandemic happened (and still happening), hammering the educational sector. All over the world, there were orders to close down their major establishments—educational institutions included.
But because learning simply cannot stop, schools were plunged into the next best alternative: online learning. The traditional face-to-face classroom setup had to go; distance education is now the new norm.
Ivy League Schools Are In on the Trend!
As the world tries to reclaim their lives, it has become important to acquire skills other than through conventional college education. As people try to reclaim back their lives and embrace the change, access to practical online resources and online courses spike, many of them being offered free of charge.
The Ivy League schools in the US—which all take pride in their robust reputation for highly selective admission process, graduate success, and overall education quality—also offer free online courses taught by well-credentialed and highly credible instructors.
Check out these free online courses from three Ivy League schools Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities delivered through some of the best-known Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) platforms:
A top-ranking university amongst the Ivy League schools, Harvard University offers over 351 online courses, of which 116 are free. Located in Cambridge. Massachusetts, Harvard courses its free online courses through edX Corporation – a massive open line course provider created together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Harvard offers free online courses in Art & Design, Business, Computer Science, Data Science, Education & Teaching, Health & Medicine, Humanities, Mathematics, Programming, and Science and Social Sciences. They run for as short as one week to over a good 24 weeks.
You can enroll and attend in any of them absolutely for free, and on a self-paced learning mode. You can complete the courses and get a Verified Certificate for a fee.
Harvard University’s Free Online Courses:
Exercising Leadership: Foundational Principles is an introductory business program that helps students you unbundle complex challenges, understand authority, identify stakeholder perspectives, build or renew trust relationships, approach conflict, and implement survival strategies amidst change. This free business online course is four weeks long and usually about 2 -3 hours weekly.
Course Duration: 4 weeks (2 to 3 hours/week)
Calculus Applied! Is a free online mathematics supplemental course for the application of calculus to other fields. It is open for high school- or college-level enrollees who have already completed or are still completing a single-variable calculus course (differential and integral). The discussion will focus on familiar relevant topics, namely, derivatives, differential equations, exponentials, functions involving polynomials, integrals, and logarithms.
Course Duration: 10 weeks (3 to 6 hours/week)
The Architectural Imagination is Harvard’s free online architecture program under the subject of Art & Design. It is an introductory course that is aimed at helping students read, analyze, and understand the different forms of architectural representations, discover the social and historical contexts of major architectural work, understand the basic principles of architectural drawings and models, and obtain pertinent content for academic study or even as a professional career as an architect.
Course Duration: 10 weeks (3 to 5 hours/week)
Introduction to Family Engagement in Education is an introductory course in teaching that focuses on family engagement is and its significance to a students’ performance at school. Various research materials will be explored on linking family engagement to better educational outputs. Students, families, and the researchers are the speakers in this free self-paced free online course.
Course Duration: 6 weeks (3 to 4 hours/week)
CS50’s Introduction to Game Development is a trending free online course from Harvard. Appealing mostly to the younger generation, this program tackles the surge of interest in online game development. This introductory program is for online grame creators and developers, helping them discover the basics of game design and development and understand the principles of 2D and 3D graphics, animation, sound, and collision detection. Learners will also be taught the basics of programming languages and game developing platforms.
Course Duration: 6 to 9 hours/week
Founded in 1701, Yale University was one of the nine colonial colleges which were chartered long before the American Revolution. Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is expanding educational horizons and innovations with free online courses. This university hosts a wide range of online courses on its own website and ties up with Coursera for its free online courses.
Yale University’s Free Online Courses:
Introduction to Climate Change and Health is a free online course taught by Robert Dubrow. It is designed to equip health and environmental professionals, changemakers, and the public with useful information on the science of climate change and its effects on human health. In particular, this course discusses the diseases and adverse health effects of climate change such as those brought about by exposure to storms and floods and extreme heat.
Course Duration: 15 hours
Introduction to Psychology is a free online Psychology course taught by Paul Bloom. It explores the topics of perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, persuasion, emotions, and social behavior, and how they are developed in children, differ across people, or break down due to illness and injury.
Course Duration: 15 hours
Introduction to Classical Music is a free online course is taught by Craig Wright. It uses a simple and enjoyable teaching style. This free online music course introduces the neophyte listener to classical music’s beauty and wonders, from Puccini operas, Bach fugues to Mozart symphonies.
Course Duration: 66 hours
A Law Student’s Toolkit is a short free online course by economist Ian Ayres and Yale Law School professor William K. Townsend. The course is a series of assignments and lectures that equip students with the tools and information to succeed in law school and beyond. Students are given reading lists to complement each lesson.
Course Duration: 16 hours
Founded in 1746, Princeton University is a colonial college chartered long before the American Revolution. This top-rated global research university partners with edX to offers free online courses.
Princeton University’s Free Online Courses:
The Art of Structural Engineering: Bridges is a free online Engineering course on the different perspectives based on the “Three Es” – efficiency, economy, and elegance. It focuses on some significant bridges built since the industrial revolution in 1760 and illustrates engineering as a creative discipline and art. Since this is a free online program, there are no statements of accomplishments, certificates, or other awarded credentials upon completion of the course.
Course Duration: 8 weeks (2 to 3 hours/week)
HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism is a free online Social Sciences course that tackles the human condition on both individual and political levels. The topics include human nature, authenticity and identity, truth and trust, happiness, freedom, reflection, meaning, death and dread, morality and ethics, God and religion, alienation and love, and of course, Hope. Students will explore the artists, figure thinkers, and politicians (ancient and modern) that have contributed to the birth or evolution of this concept. This online course will also utilize scores of multimedia features, including different forms of art, including painting, prose and poetry, cinema, tv, and music.
Course Duration: 10 weeks (3 to 5 hours/week)
Making Government Work in Hard Places is a free online Social Sciences course that digs deep into the “hows” of generating institutional change in difficult places. The topics include funds in citizen services,
community-driven projects, citizen monitoring, institutional reforms, conflicts of interest, capacity traps, and coordination at the cabinet-level. The course aims to help the enrollees understand the process of creating new practices, implementing new policies and strategies, building new institutions, and sustaining transformations.
Course Duration: 8 weeks (3 to 5 hours/week)
Civil Liberties is a free online course in Law that helps learners explore the civil rights and liberties using Supreme Court opinions. Taught by Robert P. George, this free online course from Princeton teaches the historical foundations of civil rights and liberties in the country and discusses the perspective of influential philosophers. Students will learn to analyze controversial claims and civil rights liberties.
Course Duration: 7 weeks (2 to 5 hours/week)
As Laurence Sterne puts it, “The desire of knowledge, like the thirst of riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it.” Get the most out of free online education from these Ivy League schools!