Have you always wanted to attend courses at Stanford but thought you couldn’t afford it? Well, the good news is that now you can! How is this possible? Thanks to a Stanford experiment with online learning, the top notch university is now offering 14 online courses completely free of charge. Not only that, these courses are available to all students worldwide–meaning even international students can have the opportunity to take Stanford level courses online.
How Did This Happen?
It isn’t everyday that high caliber, expensive colleges and universities decide to offer courses for free–even online. In the fall of 2011, Stanford ran a simple experiment to see what the effects of offering free online courses would be for online learning methods. By making three of its most popular computer science courses free in an online format, it didn’t take long for enrollment numbers to skyrocket through the roof. As a result, Stanford decided to not only continue offering its original seven free online courses to anyone that wants to take them, they’ve also added seven additional courses to boot.
What Do the Online Courses Consist Of?
Students that enroll in any of the 14 free online courses through Stanford will have access to interactive video clips discussing the course material, as well as short quizzes, which provides students with their score immediately afterwards. Additionally, students have the ability to ask Stanford instructors questions about the material they’ve learned in a forum setting.
Is It Really Free?
Yes. Enrolling in these online courses is 100% free. Each course has its own webpage through the university’s site, with a description of the course, a brief bio and photo of the instructor and a short FAQ section. In order to sign up and take the course, students need to fill out their name and email address on the course’s webpage. They will then receive an email notification with more information about how to officially enroll in the course.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
While it is great to have the opportunity to take online courses through Stanford at no cost, this method does have some drawbacks. Just because an individual is taking these courses does not mean they are an actual, recognized student of Stanford University. Because of this, campus facilities, instructors and resources are not available to students taking the free online courses. Completing these courses does not provide students with university credit. It is important that students understand this aspect of the program before signing up for the courses.
What Courses Are Available?
Below is a list of the most updated online courses that Stanford University offers for free:
- Computer Science 101
- Game Theory
- Human Computer Interaction
- Software Engineering for SaaS
- Natural Language Processing
- Technology Entrepreneurship
- Information Theory
- Making Green Buildings
- Design & Analysis of Algorithms I
- Machine Learning
- The Lean Launchpad
- Probabilistic Graphical Models
Are Other Colleges & Universities Participating?
Yes. In addition to Stanford, Yale and Harvard also offer free courses. Yale currently has a total of 35 “open” courses available to students, while Harvard has eight free courses.