Will I be able to choose from many online courses?

Online students helping each other on computer

Photo credit: Anthony Albright / Foter / CC

Lists of Online Colleges & Universities

You can google Wikipedia for a long alphabetical & clickable list of “online American colleges”. Or google for a “list of online college & university courses”. The imposing results show how fast the online education revolution is catching on. And check out guidetoonlineschools.com where a banner advertises 543 colleges & universities with courses sorted by subject, degree level, tuition etc.  And across the border at Canadian Virtual University, an association of Canadian online colleges & universities, you can choose from over 2,000 online college & university courses & 300 online degrees.  Another school directory is OnlineU.org which covers 500 accredited U.S. and Canadian online colleges & universities, ranking them primarily on the basis of affordability.  At online.canadianuniversities.ca/ is a site that lets you compare dozens of Canadian colleges & universities. GetEducated.com  “The consumer’s Guide to Online Colleges” is another service with online college rankings, degree comparisons, forums and advice. At www.braintrack.com/ there’s a 2014 Complete Online & Campus School Directory with a section for Online Schools arranged by subject and state. Another similarly organized database can be found at www.worldwidelearn.com/‎  where they present a choice of “over 16700 online degree programs & courses from online colleges.”  At the site www.onlinecollegesdatabase.org/‎  is posted “A complete directory of U.S. colleges and universities, online colleges, community colleges, and vocational schools.”

Not to be missed is U.S News & World Report’s Online University Rankings for 2015 at www.usnewsuniversitydirectory.com/online-education/   . You can also get an Online College Directory at www.geteducated.com/‎ where online universities and college degree programs are rated & ranked for your choosing.  At www.cacrep.org/directory/‎ there is also a list with accredited colleges noted. And the Online Schools Directory can be found at www.onlineschools.org/guides/‎ . It lists all the accredited online schools in the U.S.  And just for california: At http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.org/California/ . This 2014 database can be searched in many ways: By size, location, degree levels, campus description, and type of school. The graduation rate of schools is also given.

Lists of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) 

Fortunately there are also lists, directories & databases of MOOC’s ( Massive Open Online Courses ) to help in making online course choices. They include CourseAtlas.com, with courses findable by keywords such as course subject, course description, course title and location. Then there is Class-Central.com a data pool for  schools such as Harvard, MIT & Stanford listing 220 free courses (MOOCs) for you to choose from. Read up on MOOCs before signing up as they are excellent quality, but usually don’t involve college credits. (that may be changing in the future as students who have completed some MOOCs are asking colleges & universities to give academic credits for those online  courses successfully completed. It will be hard for cash-strapped institutions to turn these students down knowing that the MOOC phenomenon indicates an immense & growing student market for online college courses.)  And then there’s FutureLearn, a data pool for free MOOC courses offered by “leading universities” in Britain, Europe, and America. It boasts “800,000 students taking 1.7M courses”. On the Open Education Database you can choose from “over 10,000 free online courses”, searching by subject & degree level.  A complete MOOC list is available at https://www.mooc-list.com .  And over at Openculture.com you are offered a list of 1100 “free online courses from the world’s top universities”. And at MOOC’s Directory, http://www.moocs.co there’s an outfit dedicated to promoting MOOCs with MOOC news and a list of MOOC providers from around the World.

  Free & Open Access to Information

The MOOC idea of free & open access to education via online courses is very much like the idea of free and open access to information that has driven Google to become one of the world’s leading internet companies. Which is why Google’s partnerships with companies like Edx and Udacity to form the “Open Education Alliance” (https://www.udacity.com/open-ed) seems so natural. On that website one of the headings is “Bridge the gap between the skills employers need and what traditional universities teach”. That simple statement says a lot about colleges & universities being caught up in a slow traditionalist modus operandi that is out-of-sync with what society wants and needs, i.e free & open access to information. The popularity of the MOOC idea reveals a movement towards something that seems in better sync. Online Courses seem to have a coming of age message for colleges & universities trying to adjust far too slowly to the information age:  “Speed up or get out of the way”. Because students in choosing from the many online college courses might just leave the slower institutions behind.

A study by the European Commission found that as of January 2015, there were almost 4,000 MOOCs foam which to choose, available internationally. This was a growth rate of over 200 % since the previous year. MOOC’s are not going away. Nor are the online courses that colleges & universities are offering.