Through online learning, you can do free courses run by some of the world’s top universities (e.g. Stanford). You can also pick and choose from an incredible range of short courses.
Studying online is a powerful learning platform.
But as well as the pros, there are some cons of doing free courses. A big one is that it doesn’t usually land you a job.
Pros of free online courses
1. It’s free
Obviously, a big advantage of taking a free online course is that it is free. The only significant cost is your time. All you really need is:
- a fixed or mobile computer device
- basic broadband (with enough GBs for downloading videos).
2. Control what you study
Free courses give you ultimate control over what you study because there is no commitment. You can get what you want out of a course and stop at any time.
Many people don’t finish free courses. Usually, it’s not because of a problem with the course, or due to a lack of effort. Students opt for a quick learning hit and move on before finishing the full curriculum.
3. Mix and match
Another control element of free online courses is that you can choose whatever courses you want from any discipline. Because you are not working towards a formal kind of qualification like a bachelor degree, there are no boundaries. Free courses are a good way to sample different careers.
4. Demonstrate genuine interest in a topic
The commitment involved with doing free online courses is generally not as great as committing to a full degree that you pay for. Nonetheless, you can impress a prospective employer by doing them. It shows personal drive to study a topic primarily out of interest and because you have a passion for learning.
Cons of free study
1. You don’t gain a recognised qualification
Distance learning providers try hard to give you a qualification that recognises your achievement in completing a free course. But, at this stage, accredited university degrees are unavailable through free online study. Employers generally won’t consider you as qualified in a subject just through free training.
Part of the problem is that free courses generally aren’t designed to provide credentials. Often it is possible to cheat on the testing. Standards may be low as well. Education providers want you to do more than one course and not give up because of poor grades.
2. It is harder to study consistently
The lack of financial commitment with free courses makes it harder to persist with study. You are much more likely to skip content that is dull or put in a half-hearted effort. This is fine if you are just studying to have fun and stimulate your mind. But it doesn’t help with developing good study habits.