MOOC guide


I’m a big fan of online courses because they have provided me with the opportunity to test the waters before I dive in – that is to try learning more about my interests in a more structured and professional way, minus the pressure. It has been eye opening and life changing because it helped me learn subjects that I did not feel myself qualified for to be learnt professionally. And they’re fun!

So I decided to put together a little masterpost for anyone who is interested in the Massive Online Online Courses, or MOOCs.

Where to learn

There are plenty of platforms on which MOOCs are offered by top universities of the world but two of them take the cake:

    A joint initiative by Harvard, MIT and several others. Edx offers 500+ different courses in 30+ subjects including Astrophysics, Computer Science, Data Science, Microsoft certifications, History of China, Nutrition, Health care, Science of cooking, Management, Animal behaviour, Design, AP preparation, IELTS preparation etc.
  2. Coursera
    Coursera has a more diverse collection of courses all the way from Human Spaceflight to learning Korean and the Science of Happiness. There are also more traditional subjects like Mathematics, Statistical Mechanics, Music Theory, English Grammar etc.

Undoubtedly, this is the most influential learning resource on the internet. However if you are looking for specific subjects rather than simple how to videos, it might get a little overwhelming to find.
My personal favorites on YouTube:

  1. MIT opencourseware
  2. Khan Academy
  3. Crash Course
  4. nptel
  5. Yale courses

and many, many others.

Other popular platforms:

  1. Stanford
  2. Khan Academy
  3. Code academy
  4. Udacity

Masterposts with more resources:

list of educational youtube channels by @ibastudyblr

free online courses by @listasyorden

resources list by @quarky

summer studying list by @theartisangeek

Youtube channels for physics by me

taking advantage of MOOCs by @colbiemagzine

How to learn

  1. Browse the websites, decide what courses interest you.
  2. Watch the introduction videos, they are very helpful in knowing what the course is all about. Go through the syllabus if available.
  3. Make sure you are registered with the website you want to learn from. You can sign up using your Email Id but many websites take facebook login as well.
  4. Watch the first week material and see if you can understand it. Every instructor has a distinct style. If you are confused after watching/doing first lecture and the additional readings/resources don’t help, feel free to unenroll. The goal is to learn, not stuff yourself with knowledge.
  5. If the platform is unfamiliar and you are not sure how to navigate, look for a demo video with general instructions on how to do that. Most sites have these. If you still get lost, search on youtube.
  6. Introduce yourself in the discussion forums and connect with fellow classmates.

My tips:

  1. Do not enroll in more than 2 MOOCs at a time, especially if you have a day job/uni to go to. Maximum you can do is 3 in my experience.
  2. DO NOT enroll in verified track/certification unless you are completely sure you can keep up for the whole duration of the course. Most of the time the free certificate will do just fine.
  3. Do not be afraid to sign up for weird courses or topics that you know nothing about. It is by learning what we know we don’t know that we grow.

Tips for when you feel overwhelmed/behind the schedule

  1. First of all, treat these as you treat your regular classes and keep track of the deadlines.
  2. If you are running out of time, skip the lecture and study directly from lecture slides. Figure out how the practice problems are solved and do your homework. Most of the homework/assignments are of the same level as the practice problems. Once you’ve submitted your homework, go back to the lecture. Make sure to watch the lecture in its entirety.
  3. See if you have enrolled in more courses than you can handle. If something is interesting but you don’t have the time or it is not important right now, skip it. There will be newer sessions opening up in the coming months, you can enroll later.
  4. If you don’t have a stable internet connection, download the week’s material in advance. Almost all websites have the download option.
  5. Participate in the discussion forum. Most of the concepts that you are struggling with are likely to be a problem for others as well and you might find the problem answered there already. The teaching staff and other students can help you out when you’re stuck, don’t hesitate to ask.

More tips by @studypea

List of resources/masterposts by subject:

MOOCs for writers

Linguistics on Coursera

for langblrs


Social media marketing

How to learn data science

science moocs to change the way you see the world

Interesting stuff

things I’ve learnt from MOOCs

dashing profs

world science university


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