Do you want to:
- Switch careers?
- Gain a promotion?
- Become better at your job?
- Improve your job prospects?
- Or, simply for the pleasure of learning?
You can have that all from home and for free! Have a look at the numerous MOOCs made by universities, such as Stanford, MIT, and Harvard, companies, such as Google or Microsoft, or by various organizations. MOOCs are courses delivered online and accessible to all for free.
MOOC stands for massive open online course:
- Massive because enrollments are unlimited and can run into hundreds of thousands.
- Open because anyone can enroll — that is, there is no admission process.
- Online because they are delivered via the internet.
- Course because their goal is to teach a specific subject.
MOOCs typically comprise video lessons, readings, assessments, and discussion forums. Mostly MOOCs are distributed not by their creators but rely on course providers such as coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) and edX (https://www.edx.org/).
Some MOOCs can be started at any time. Others start at regular intervals — every few weeks or months. Some are seldom offered — sometimes reappearing after a year of absence. Finally, some stop being offered entirely. Some MOOCs are self-paced — you progress through them as quickly or slowly as you want — while others run on a schedule. All the course material may not be available from day one. Instead, it’s released in fragments week after week, forcing students to pace themselves. Assessments may have deadlines, preventing students from lagging behind. But even when they involve a schedule, MOOCs remain flexible: you study when it suits you best, day or night. MOOCs range in length from 1 to 16 weeks. Most provide an estimate of the weekly time commitment, although this may vary significantly from one student to another.
Students are tested in two different ways:
- Auto-graded quizzes — that is, quizzes that are automatically graded upon submission, such as multiple choice questions.
- Peer-feedback assignments — that is, assignments that are graded by other students according to a specific rubric.
Your performance on these assignments then determines your overall course grade. If you finish a MOOC with a passing grade, you may earn a certificate of completion. Sometimes, the certificate is free. But more often, you have to pay for it. Paid certificates often require ID verification, which involves sending a picture of yourself and a government-issued ID. Beside certificates, other MOOC components may be hidden behind a paywall — for instance, graded assignments. MOOCs often offer two enrollment options:
- Free Auditing — which gives you access to videos, readings, and forums for free.
- Paid Enrollment — which gives you access to all the content, including paywalled elements such as the certificate of completion.
A small number of courses are pay-only.
Financial aid is available to take MOOCs! Some MOOC platforms allow you to apply for financial aid or scholarships:
If accepted, you may be able to earn a certificate for free or at a discounted rate.
Students are encouraged to help each other by answering questions. You are not allowed to post quiz answers, but you may recommend helpful resources, so struggling students can work out the answer for themselves.
To find MOOCs which are in your interest:
- Search for keywords — for instance, type ‘Renewables’ or ‘Solar’.
- Browse by subject — for instance at edx, click on 'Science' then click on ‘renewable energy’ and you find all related courses. (https://www.edx.org/learn/renewable-energy)
Here are some examples of Solar Energy related courses:
If you want to enroll at the Solar Energy course click here.
For Photovoltaic solar energy click here.