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MOOCs | A free homeschooling resource for high school

MOOCs - a great free resource to homeschool high school!
MOOCs - a fantastic free homeschooling high school resource!

It can be difficult to find resources to homeschool high school, so we were really happy when we discovered MOOCs.

Free! High quality! Easily accessible! And did I mention free?

And I think they’re perfect for any homeschooler interested in getting high-quality education resources for free (that’s everyone, right?).

What is a MOOC?

You’ve heard of Khan Acadamy? MOOCS are kind of like Khan Academy, but even better. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and they’re exactly what they say – a course that usually has thousands of people enrolled, is open to anyone, and is delivered online.

Most MOOCs are provided by top universities and colleges and delivered by experts in the field. Many are actual courses offered by the university – you get the same resources as paying students, but you don’t get access to the teaching staff, or an academic transcript.

You can find MOOCs about virtually every topic – my kids have completed MOOCs about moons, becoming a vet, general science, anatomy and physiology, masonry, rhetoric, creative writing, and ecology (I’ve just realised that we’re definitely a science-loving family!).

I completed two about dementia to complement my nursing degree, so they’re useful for the entire family.

Some provide free certificates, while others require you to pay for the certificate. Many include basic gamification, which my kids love – the small additions like progress bars and grading create intrinsic rewards. It’s enough to keep them going without detracting from the actual learning.

Reasons to add MOOCs to your homeschool


Gabrielle’s result at age 11, when she did a university-level MOOC about moons. Yes, I’m still proud!

The negatives of MOOCs

Obviously, nothing is perfect. Here’s some problems with MOOCs that are worth anticipating.

Overall though, MOOCs are fantastic. Our children didn’t use the computer for any of their work before MOOCs came along. We’re pretty old-fashioned when it comes to technology use – any technology-related learning has to prove its merit before it is added to our work (the vast majority of what I’ve seen touted as educational on computers / iPads etc. is nothing more than repetitive, mindless games with a thin layer of education slapped on top as a seeming afterthought, but hey, that’s my archaic opinion).

MOOCs were good enough for us to get our older three on the computer, and anyone who knows us will know that that’s very high praise indeed.

Best places to find quality MOOCs

Have I convinced you to try a MOOC? Here are the best places to find high-quality courses for teens.

EdX

Alison

Coursera

FutureLearn

Canvas

Saylor Academy

OpenLearn

MIT OpenCourseware

There are many other MOOCs that are run individually by universities – for example, UTAS’s Understanding Dementia MOOC, which I completed. A google search using the keywords ‘MOOC’ with your topic (eg. MOOC hula hooping – one exists! Really!) should show any available.

I hope that helps you to diversify your learning resources without the cost.

I’d love to hear which MOOCs you and your children are doing, let me know in the comments below.

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