Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Duke, Yale for free or almost ...
“Higher and tertiary education has an important role to play in fuelling and sustaining economic growth, international competitiveness, social development and poverty reduction in Sierra Leone, and as such much more attention needs to be directed at the sector to ensure quality and equitable provision,” says a World Bank Report from 2013.
While we wait for FBC and Njala to get the attention they deserve, a steady revolution in university education throughout the world, means that with a smart phone, good WiFi and a comfy chair, anyone can take a course from Harvard, Princeton, MIT and a good number of other top universities thanks to the MOOC revolution.
MOOCs or Massive Online Open Courses are made up of course content from mainstream universities offered entirely online. Most are similar to traditional online higher education courses where students watch lectures, read assigned material, participate in online discussions and forums, and complete quizzes and tests on the course material. The wonderful thing about MOOCs though is that they are very often free or if not, they are certainly thousands of dollars cheaper.
For the Sierra Leonean learner, where obstacles to learning in-country or abroad, include cost, quality, visas, foreign exchange, entry requirements, family responsibilities or career/business obligations – the MOOC movement could be our saving grace.
Coursera partners with top universities and organisations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take. https://www.coursera.org
Open2Study is backed by Open Universities Australia (OUA), an Australian leader in accredited online education. https://www.open2study.com
EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT. https://www.class-central.com/provider/edx
FutureLearn benefits from the Open University’s 40 plus years of experience in distance learning and online education. https://www.futurelearn.com
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) goes a step further, allowing students to take free online coursework that counts as credit toward a degree. http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Udacity offers nanodegree programmes and credentials, designed for future Web Developers, Data Analysts, Mobile Developers, etc. https://www.udacity.com
South Africa based MOOC SA aims to increase the sharing of knowledge and promote (free) learning through massive open online courses. http://moocs.org.za
Read the rest of our feature on MOOCs in Insight Magazine on page 27