Massive open online courses, also known as MOOCs, are quickly becoming the new wave of education technology. The innovative websites that feature these free, online, and sometimes hybrid, college-level courses bring you professors from some of the world’s most prestigious universities. Participating schools range from Harvard to the University of  Melbourne and offer any subject from technology and science to art and humanities. Some even offer vocational training. MOOCs accept all applicants and aren’t timed, which means you can work at your own pace. Completing a course often results in a certificate of completion. Although the classes are not good for actual course credit at any of these universities, they have a global outreach of millions of users, making higher education accessible to an international audience. Here are four of the most successful MOOC sites currently available.



This online non-profit was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and has even added Google as a tech partner. Their MOOCs are available in English with a few in Chinese or French. EdX offers Honor Code certificates, ID Verified certificates, and XSeries certificates.

An Honor Code certificate is a free certificate that certifies that a student has successfully completed a course, but does not verify their identity. An edX Verified certificate shows that they have successfully completed the course and have verified their identity with a photo ID. Fees vary by course. This is for those that wish to use their course for school or job applications or promotions.

And lastly, some schools offer an XSeries Certificate, which is earned by successfully completing a series of courses that make up an XSeries. The cost of an XSeries certificate is the sum total of the required courses for which you have earned ID Verified Certificates, which can vary in price by course.



Coursera is a for-profit company that boasts over 400 courses in over 20 categories, created by 85 universities from 16 countries; a broad range of courses,  spanning the humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, and much more. Their virtual student body currently has 17 million enrollments and some of their most popular classes have up to 240, 000 students.

Interestingly, Coursera accommodates their large class sizes with peer grading methods, which they say works just as well as having T.A.s grade, as long as the students have explicit grading rubrics.



Udacity, another for-profit company, was founded in 2012 by Sebastian Thrun, a robotic developer who was one of the founders of the Google X Lab, one of the leading developers of the Google driverless car system, as well as Google Glass. Oh, and did we mention he was also a professor, first at Carnegie Melon and then at Stanford University?

Udacity—pronounced “you-dacity”—focuses on courses within the STEM topics (science, technology, engineering, and math) and features contributions and projects by companies like Google, Facebook and AT&T. All members have access to free courseware information, but must pay to actually enroll in the course and receive verified certificates of completion.




Advanced Learning Interactive Systems Online, ALISON, was founded in 2007 and was the world’s first ever MOOC. What makes ALISON different is that they only offer vocational training, or courses with practical content.

Although the content for their courses comes from authors, professors, companies like Microsoft and organizations like the British Council, they do not affiliate with any university in order to keep costs down. ALISON makes most of their revenue from advertising and by charging for premium services. Students can purchase their certificate or diploma after completing their course.

You can find other MOOCs here.

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Category: Technology