Want to learn something new & useful? Try these innovative free online startups


Education as we know it is changing rapidly across the world, it is now easier for anyone to get the same high quality education offered by the world’s best universities such as MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and Harvard.

Online learning startups such as Coursera,  Udacity, Edx, Open Learning and Khan Academy are bringing a huge collection of open online course ranging from Computer Science to Literature. They each have different offerings, some give text-based content, while some offer a mix of text, audio and video course contents. Once enrolled you can take the already available courses or enroll and wait for interactive courses.

Below are brief description of the leading startups offering online learning classes.



Founders: Daphne Koller of Stanford and Andrew Ng of Stanford and Google
Affiliations: Works with the world top universities such as Stanford, Michigan, Berkeley, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of London and many others
Founded: April 2012
Enrollment: More than 100,000 in the first courses
Format: Short videos, quizzes and problem sets with immediate feedback, and a Q&A forum.
Topics: The fullest selection, from poetry to probability.
Cost: Free ( for now.)
Sample course: Model Thinking, an interdisciplinary social-science course by Scott E. Page, a professor of complex systems, computer science, and economics at the University of Michigan.



Founder: Anant Agarwal of MIT
Affiliations: MIT, Harvard, University of Texas and Berkeley
Founded: April 2012
Enrollment: 100,000 in the first course
Format: Short videos, problem sets, a forum, wiki, and Facebook study groups. Some neat features built by volunteers, like a graphic that shows your cumulative homework scores.
Topics: They pledge to offer humanities as well as the sciences.
Cost: Free, with plans to charge for certifications.
Sample course: MIT 6.002x, Circuits and Electronics, taught by Agarwal, Gerald Sussman, and Piotr Mitros of MIT, an entry-level electrical engineering course.



Founders: Sebastian Thrun of Google and Stanford and Peter Norvig of Stanford ( Sebastian Thrun is part of the team working of self driving cars for Google)
Founded: January 2012
Enrollment: 100,000 in the first course
Format: Short videos, quizzes and problem sets, a wiki and forum, and a live course manager like a TA. Courses are organized by level with links to suggested prerequisites.
Topics: Focus on computer science, with a few other science and math topics.
Cost: Free for now. Eventually, perhaps $100 in tuition for a master’s degree. Upon completing a course, students receive a certificate of completion indicating their level of achievement
Sample course: CS373, Artificial Intelligence for Robotics, aka “Programming a Robotic Car.” Prerequisites include knowledge of Python, probability, and linear algebra.


Khan Academy

Founders: Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School.
Founded: 2006
Enrollment: 3.5 million unique visitors
Format: Short videos, quizzes, coaching and mentoring
Topics: everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and hundreds of skills to practice
Sample course: Valuation and Investing

Could this be the future of education?

Udacity’s Sebastian Thrun seems to think so, he makes a bold claim that within 50 years only 10 higher learning institutions will be left in the world. A bit of an ambitious prediction, but he is right to certain extent. With the rapid increase of smartphones and tablets, education is moving from the conventional ways of learning to the web.

If these startups get their way, perhaps future students won’t attend university, save only those for the high expertise majors such as medicine and aeronautics.

Class Central offers a full list and links of all courses from the startups covered above, go ahead and try a course and share your experiences with Techzim.

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