You know the dream: You’re sitting in class, the teacher calls on you to answer a question. You stand up and you realize you’re wearing only your underwear.
Going back to school can be a stressful idea for anyone, even if you are fully clothed. Finding the time and the money can be hard for some people, and for others the stress of getting back into the classroom routine can be too much.
But thanks to the growth of the Internet and social technologies there are many free learning opportunities available to you in your own home, covering all levels of learning, from kindergarten to advanced university courses. Many of these online courses are free, designed to open education to anyone with access to a computer. It should be noted that most of these courses are introductions to topics and for interest-sake but most will not provide credits toward completion of a diploma or degree.
The Brantford Public Library and the County of Brant Public Library offer online learning through Learn4Life. Anyone with a valid library card can use Learn4Life, and it offers a range of options: university and college-level courses designed for lifelong learners, great for people who want to learn more about a topic or get an introduction in a new area of study; or career-training programs, designed to provide workforce skills for people to enter a new field, or excel in their current jobs.
There are also other sites available, providing learning opportunities at many levels.
Good Learning Anywhere, and the LearningHub are easy to use websites with introductory and skills-boosting courses in math, English language and computer skills.
More advanced courses are available through ALISON.com, with courses in business management and personal development. ALISON also has a paid service for companies or managers to run courses for a group of employees.
The Khan Academy offers kindergarten to Grade 12 level courses through short, easy-to-understand video lectures on a wide variety of subjects. Most of the 3,200 videos focus on math and science, but others cover economics and history. Khan has interactive tests and challenges, giving students a chance to apply what they have learned right away.
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are university-level courses open to anyone. Taught by a university professor, the courses give students a certificate of completion at the end. Coursera.org offers access to more than 200 of these courses from schools around the world, and covering a variety of subjects, giving introductory courses or classes to help you master a topic. Schools include the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and Stanford University.
If all this online learning has you interested in more-traditional learning opportunities, and you want to get credits toward a degree or diploma, there are options through many Canadian colleges and universities.
Studyonline.ca has information on distance education offered by 18 colleges and 14 universities across Ontario. The site helps people access classes already offered by Ontario colleges and universities, without leaving their community.
Canadian Virutal University is a one-stop shop for information on taking university-level courses online.
So, if you are thinking of going back to school, take a deep breath and relax. Maybe it’s not all books and desks in your future. With online learning you can get your education from the comfort of your home, where you wear whatever you feel like.