A while back I posted about how I gave up on purchased curricula. That hasn't changed. Nevertheless, I'm always on the lookout for cool ways to learn. The Internet has exploded with wonderful, and free, educational opportunities in the last two years. An abundance of knowledge waits for our fingertips to find it.

My husband and I took a Stanford Database class together. We paid no money and did not get college credit, but we learned a lot and got cute little certificates. Stanford offered that database class and three other computer science classes at basically the same time. They were experiments in massive online learning.

Those experimental courses were so successful that educators have created more. And more.

It's terribly exciting for people like me, and I have trouble whittling down which classes to take, because I want to take lots of them, but can really only handle one or two classes at a time.


My children and I took a Computer Science I class together from Stanford. (They learned quite a bit. I was only one class away from a CS degree in college. I didn't learn a whole lot.) We got a cute little certificate and didn't have to pay any money.

Here's the deal with the classes.

  • They're free.
  • If you do everything, you get a cute certificate at the end.
  • You do not get college credit.
  • You do not have to do everything. In fact, the Genetics class my daughter and I are taking right now has a G on the videos the instructor thinks are for general audiences and a S on the videos that have a lot of specific details in them and are not as general interest.
  • You can learn at your own pace.
  • Textbooks are generally not required, but optional. Some of the classes have links to free eBooks. Some are not.
  • Some classes are for general audiences with no prerequisites required. Some have prereqs or you won't understand. (I was all jazzed to take a Circuit Design class from MIT, but the intro letter suggested students review their Differential Equations before class started. I quickly lost interest.)

I've taken classes through

Personally, I can recommend Computer Science I with Nick P. from Stanford, Introduction to Genetics and Evolution with Mohamed Noor, and Writing in the Sciences.