Best Online Study Websites- Study Online Part 3:

Best Online Study Platforms- Massive Open Online Courses and More
Best Online Study Platforms- Massive Open Online Courses and More

Best online study websites selected for you!  “Yes, I want to start an online course, but where to find a reliable provider?” “Help, I can’t see the wood for the trees, there’s just so much on offer.” Just some of the thoughts I had when I looked for an online course to keep my mind engaged while my baby was sleeping, stuck in my Beijing apartment due to smog.

Here’s some ideas on which reliable platforms to use- and many of their courses are FREE. Yay!  In this post I will focus on the 3 best Massive Open Online Course providers for university level courses, the possibilities of Open University, 3 skills learning platforms and 3 additional tools for language learning. A brief list of MOOCs for those fluent in Spanish, French or if you are from India is below.

Please read my earlier post on Questions to Ask before you start an Online Study, to help you choose what type of study to commit to.


3 Best Online Study Platforms for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Top Universities have united to offer their courses to a worldwide audience– mostly for free! Think Harvard, Yale, Cambridge but also other leading universities from across the world. Subjects range from mathematics to psychology to business and beyond. Usually there are no prerequisites for courses, so even if you’ve never studied at a university you could still give this a try. Some courses have subtitles too.

The structure of courses: usually a weekly program with video lectures, a little background reading, short quizzes to see if you’ve understood the materials and sometimes homework assignments or a requirement to contribute to the online discussion platform. Sometimes you can go at your own pace, other times you have to adhere to a schedule.. Signing up is no different than to sign up for the average social media platform, no complicated forms to download or anything, just put a username, your email and password and start studying.

My Favorite Online Study Platforms

These three providers are leading in the field of Massive Open Online Studies (MOOCs). They offer both free and paid content. What makes me write that they are the Best Online Study providers is that they offer quality content in an accessible way. The online system works well, and participating institutions have been vetted.

EDX: From separate courses to Micro-Masters from renowned universities. Offers 1300+ courses and has tens of millions of learners worldwide.  Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Oxford and Sorbonne, but also Kyoto, Adelaide and Delft and many others. From Marketing to Cybersecurity and IELTS/TOEFL preparation. Some courses are self-paced while others require you to start and finish on specific dates. Also courses in Spanish on a variety of topics (organ transplantation anyone?).

Coursera: Alike to EDX. Yale, Princeton, Stanford and a variety of Top international universities, as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Courses range from Data Science to Succesful Negotiating and from Dog Emotion to Medical Neuroscience.

FutureLearn: Similar to the above. Many Universities from the United Kingdom, but also from China, Australia and Mexico. Institutions such as the British Council and the European Space Agency are also represented.

Open University:  Open University is the leading, well known provider of quality university degrees. If you contemplate doing a whole degree, they often make it possible to try out a subject. And: their courses are offered in many different languages and in many countries are recognized as official university degrees. Please note that it’s degrees come with a price tag.

In some free courses you can even obtain Honor Code certificates!
In some free courses you can even obtain Honor Code certificates!

My Top Tip for MOOCs
: Browse and make a short list of courses you are interested in. Keep the Questions Before you Start in mind and just pick one that triggers your curiosity. Then commit to trying it for a month. See also Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting an Online Study


3 Online Skills platforms

Udemy: is a platform for both institutions and private individuals. More than 45.000 courses, ranging from Web Design to Photography to Excel to a Creativity Workshop by Elisabeth Gilbert, the writer of Eat Love Pray. This is your go to place if you’d like a hands on course and are less interested in a university with a good name. And if you are looking for a portable career: anyone can become an instructor. Many courses are not free, but if you sign up for their newsletter you will often receive a special promotion, a course for 10 US Dollar for example.

For those of you interested in improving your IT skills, finding a truly online, portable career or landing a job with Google or Amazon, take a look at these two platforms:

Udacity:  cooperation between the largest technical corporations such as Google and IBM to train people in the knowledge and skills they need. From basic programming and website building to self-driving cars technology- here’s the place to build your knowledge- and to who knows to find a new career.

Team Treehouse: want to learn to build your own app for Android or Apple, create your own website or learn coding, check out this site. Currently all courses are offered for free.

Online Study Platform for Kids

Khan Academy: The Mission of Khan Academy is to offer “practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.”  This Platform aims at school children, helping them with eg Maths, Biology and World History. It’s a not for profit, offering free content and does not have ads or subscriptions.

Language learning

As expats, we’re bound to take on a language class at some point or other. While I personally advocate taking language lessons in person from a qualified instructor (as this will force you to actually speak the language), online courses can definitely support your attempts at mastering a new vernacular.

EDX, Coursera and FutureLearn all have courses for mostly beginning and some intermediate language learners on offer. I didn’t say they were the best online study platforms for nothing. Other possibilities are:

  • Rosetta Stone: online platform and also available on CDs. Not free, but very professional. It also offers the possibility for online language classes. Many different levels and languages, from Dutch to Chinese and Arabic to Swahili.
  • Memrise: especially good for supporting your learning and improving your vocabulary. Memrise works with mnemonics principles: you’ll remember better when words are connected to images (yes that’s scientifically proven apparently- it’s how kids learn a language as well).
  • Duolingo: free award winning app for language learning.

There are many specialized apps for learning a specific language, e.g. if you are training for a language exam. Just check your phone’s app store. There are also some platforms combining some languages, here is a link to free resources:

Best Online Study courses in other languages:

What if you are not a native English speaker, or just as fluent in another language? There is more out there! I’m referring here to courses offered in other languages, not on learning another language. Say a course about classical theatre in French or about food security in Spanish. Or perhaps a Chinese language course on business? Again, EDX and Coursera offer these (it gets boring, they are among the best online study platforms). For a full list of Massive Open Online Courses in other languages, please refer to:

Comments? Experiences? What do you find the Best Online Study Platform? Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to check out my tips in Questions to Ask Yourself Before starting an Online Study





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