Free College Courses:
Harvard and MIT have started a nonprofit hub at edX.org, where you can learn Greek classics from a Harvard professor of quantum mechanics via Berkeley.
Don’t want to wait for a course to start? Carnegie Mellon has free self-paced courses that you can try anytime at oli.cmu.edu, and so does the nonprofit Saylor.org.
Another for-profit site, Udacity.com, mostly offers classes without a university’s stamp, but it features star teachers like founder Sebastian Thrun, a co-inventor of Google’s experimental self-driving car, who teaches artificial intelligence for robotics.
The MIT-built MOOCs offer a chance to earn an”MITx” — not MIT — a credential that won’t on its own help you toward a degree but might look nice at the bottom of a résumé next to other continuing-ed classes.
Even if there’s no cheap and easy back-door into an Ivy League university like the University of Pennsylvania, a student may soon be able to take what he or she learns from the Penn-taught calculus class on Coursera.org and have another college award the credit.
Coursera’s Penn calculus class is one of four college-level MOOCs — all on Coursera — with an ACE recommendation as of early April. To get credit, you first must pay Coursera a fee, currently $128, for verifying your identity and proctoring the exams. (This could be one way Coursera someday makes money.) This doesn’t, however, guarantee a college will follow the ACE recommendation and award credit. It’s up to the student to persuade their school.
Plenty of free resources are available online for students who want to learn a new topic, but these free options don’t generally lead to college credit. Students who want to earn college credit might want to look for online options that charge a small fee in exchange for access to online lessons. These fee-based courses can help students earn alternative forms of college credit.