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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12 thoughts on “Want to learn something new & useful? Try these innovative free online startups

  1. with these websites are you just increasing your knowledge without getting any certifications to advance your career or….?

  2. Excellent share! I’ve taken online Stanford courses since before Thun left & started Udacity. They are a great help and they pace you at no cost. My interests were AI. I have used the Udacity lectures in revising some of my CS knowledge esp programming. It is invaluable. I encourage anyone with an interest in CS, AI & Robotics to take up the Udacity courses. People like Norvig are legends in AI and to get such quality education for free… priceless!

    Side note:

    I know, generically, they qualify to be startups but the word is overused here. I could be wrong but in a case like this, one can mistakenly undermine the value of these organisations. There are other words

  3. You may or may not have reasonable cause. I googled your story and it is a sad one. But spamming and overloading a site with random comments would not help your cause at all. I suggest you have a website dedicated to your cause and find a better way of engagement through social networks. What you are doing becomes more of an annoyance… Even if, say, it was tolerable, you are rather incoherent and out of the blue. I just checked it out out of pure curiosity and because of the big names you accuse

    1. Equal opportunity and Freedom of Speech;

      Your personal feeling of ‘annoyance’ about my public challenges would not get
      rid of the dire consequences from such anti-humanity crimes, and such anti-humanity crimes would not be tolerated anywhere on this planet;

      You’d better blame those who had committed such anti-humanity crimes, and those malicious officers who not only could not clarify the case after these many years, but also turn back and molest victims, such as me, with miscarriage of justice; The more those accused in my public challenges remain cowardice, the more people would believe in what I said, and the power from the eyes of the public would eventually pressure the case to be clarified at authorities and have those fascists who had committed such anti-humanity crimes pay for their crimes;

      Crimes remain unconquered at authorities, and such public challenges would
      continue to appear wherever names of those in this fascism circle display;

      1. No sides to choose. Just wrong platform and way to raise your issue.
        It is an annoyance in that it is not relevant to this site and this
        discussion. With a website, all you would do is post a link…though
        many would interpret that as spam.

        An annoyance like a flower in a vegetable garden is a weed. Good thing but in an unwanted place.

        1. Such anti-humanity crimes would not be tolerated anywhere in human society, including in this article, and anybody who read this article have the right to learn unconquered fascism crimes associated with figure in this article;

          The link would not appear when I post on this site, and I believe I have the right to inform the readers what’s going on

          Anyway, what you concerned are minuscule issues compared to the gravity of the issues I displayed; Please focus on pushing such fascism crimes to be clarified at authorities, and you will be blessed

          1. Nah, I’ll focus on coherent Tech-related issues about ZIMBABWE, in case you have lost your bearings. If you are not some deranged stalker, you actually harm your cause by sounding deranged with all that text and incoherent information. Effective communication is simple.

            Seems you are famous for stalking any article that mentions Thrun or Schmidt, with a random mention of fascism:



            1. Here is part of the answers to your above link i-doubt-it-sebastianthrun:


              Q&A of flaws in the handling of Stanford student May Zhou’s death by certain police officers, which served a big role in a series of fascism crimes, in response to Eric Schmidt and Sebastian Thrun’s side of their argues at [iDOTdoubtDOTit/tag/sebastian-thrun/] (replace DOT with . to get the right address)


              “Dr. Kelly Arthur of the Sonoma County coroner’s office, is reported to have reviewed it and said she stood by her original finding that there were not any signs of trauma.” — that still would not gurantee a suicide conclusion, would it? where/when/how did those trauma come into being, then? Can Dr. Kelly Arthur explain? or would it be wiser for the officer who drew conclusion of suicide to make sure where/when/how did those trauma come into being before drawing conclusion of suicide?


              “Except Peter Cao, who asserts that Mengyao Zhou was murdered by or with the

              help of Schmidt and Thrun, in order to intimidate him personally.” — Schmidt did threatened my life with the death of May Zhou for sake of Thrun during their fight with Stanford. I said they killed May Zhou to intimidate me and to terrorize Stanford; you omitted the serious part. My statement is far more reasonable than police can give, don’t you agree?


              “… and an email that Zhou sent to her 16-year-old sister as “consistent with a goodbye note.”

              — can we see such an email before we could believe it? How much good-bye is there in it? How to explain the fact that May Zhou had transferred money to pay off debt before her disappearance?


              “But then you can’t expect someone killing themselves to make choices that appear rational to others. If it’s not tasteless to speculate, perhaps she felt ashamed and wanted to hide herself.”

              — Is that the way you describe death of an innocent girl as May Zhou is? Shame on you!

              — Would the officer in charge of May Zhou’s case agree? How to get connect with such an officer? I have serious stuff to report

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