Start off 2014 with MOOCs!

2013 is rapidly drawing to a close, and new years is but a few days away. One of my personal resolutions for 2014 is to learn something new – a couple of new skills that may be beneficial in the job market as I’m graduating this year. So what are “MOOCs”? And why are they on the rise?

MOOCs stand for “Massive Open Online Courses.” They are online courses that are open access (and free), aid in distance learning, and allow unlimited participation with interactive user forums that built a community of students, professors and various others. Similar to traditional course materials, lessons can be taught in various formats ranging from videos, exercises, readings, etc. Online learning is increasing – most recently, the French Ministry of Higher Education launched a national MOOC project as part of a national education initiative called France Université Numerique to increase access to education to students and universities in France.

Being an International Development student too, I’m absolutely infatuated with the idea of MOOCs because it also has the potential to provide free and accessible education to anyone with access to internet – regardless of economic background, gender, access to educational facilities, etc. This can allow for the empowerment of local communities, providing them with a basic educational background and knowledge to pursue various opportunities.


In terms of online courses, the following are some of the well-known (albeit not exhaustive) platforms for free online courses. MIT OpenCourseWare has a particular soft spot in my heart, because it was what had gotten me through multivariable calculus in my first year at McGill.

More specifically, Duolingo offers bit-sized lessons specifically for those of you interested in picking up a new language. If you’re a global health fanatic like me, definitely check out this list of free online public health courses. The University of Copenhagen, renown in the global health community, offers a fantastic set of courses. (click here!)


Computer science and information technology is on the rise, and the ability to be able to code programs, effectively analyze data and even manage websites will evidently become a useful skill to have. The following are some of the open and free online courses available to teach you a variety of coding languages:

  • Code Academy: Code Academy is by far my favourite website to learn from. The graphics are clean and simple, the instructions easy to follow, and it literally takes you step by step through various exercise to learn a language. There’s also lots of languages to choose from – including JavaScript, HTML/ CSS, PHP, Python, Ruby and APIs.
  • The Code School: Similar to Code Academy, the Code School provides various exercises to help you learn JavaScript, Ruby, iOS and HTML/ CSS. As well, it also offers a course on a neat program called R. R is a flexible language that is leading in statistics, data analytics and data mining – hence, a particularly useful tool with respect to research. (Read “Why Choose R” for more information)


A little closer to home, many of you many be already aware of online lectures McGill offers through it’s COOL McGill website. But if you dial back the semesters, you’ll notice it also offers lecture recordings for quite a few courses for those of you that are interested. Although limited in number, definitely check it out!


McGill is a phenomenal university, but with increased access to information through the internet, education today is but a click away. I hope these links and suggestions are helpful in whatever direction you would like to pursue in the future – whether it’s taking a course just for fun, or to increase your skill set for future job opportunities. 🙂

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One response to “Start off 2014 with MOOCs!”

  1. I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.

    I’m quite certain I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

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