Today, students of all ages are seeking alternative educational methods that allow them to broaden their higher-learning experiences at a lower cost. Due to the increased interest in learning in a virtual environment, top universities are offering free professional and continuing education classes via open online-learning in various areas of study. Students who would like to broaden their knowledge within any of the open courses provided can do so. There are many universities offering open courseware, but today we will review the free online courses offered by the University of Washington’s OpenUW website.
The courses offered are similar to those that on-campus students must pay tuition to attend. The only difference is that instead of earning traditional college credits, online students only receive a certificate of completion. For instance, Introduction to Product Management is similar to taking an accredited project management course in many ways. It provides a basic overview including course goals and objectives, course structure, learning modules, supplemental reading material, quizzes, and a project activity.
Each learning module is presented via a narrated slide show that requires the use of computer speakers or headphones. Each quiz includes a list of several true or false questions and an option for time limits, due dates, and availability. For the first project activity, students select a project they are already working on or planning. They must then meet the following goals and answer the following questions:
• Deliverability: What will you accomplish with this project?
• Duration: How long will it take to complete this project?
• Resource assignment: What resources are required to complete this project?
• Original set of tasks: What tasks need to be completed?
• One-time group endeavor: Will you be able to meet your goals in one event?
The subsequent activities assigned continue to build upon students’ project goals. Essentially, when the project management course is complete, students walk away with a thorough understanding of the basic concepts required to develop a well thought-out project plan of their own.
OpenUW offers an eclectic span of free, general-interest courses such as Energy, Diet & Weight; HTML Basics; War and History; Dance; Political Economy; and The Study of Personality. The University of Washington also offers more advanced free courses via Coursera in areas that include finance, computational neuroscience, data science, programming languages, machine learning, and a variety of computer-related courses.
To learn more about The University of Washington’s OpenUW free courses visit:
OpenUW at http://www.outreach.washington.edu/openuw/
Coursera at https://www.coursera.org/uw