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Going Back to School: A Quick Guide to MOOCs and Online Courses for Seniors

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Online learning has caused a revolution in higher education over the last decade. The trend is good news for seniors looking to brush up on complex subjects, earn additional income, and improve their quality of life.

In the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) model of higher learning, many courses are available for free. Universities offering free courses include top schools such as Harvard, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With MOOCs, you can learn marketable skills such as international business, computer science, entrepreneurship, digital marketing and data analysis. Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is the MOOC model of higher learning?

MOOC is a recent development in higher education, affiliated with the EdX course catalog. With over 3,000 subjects to choose from, MOOCs offer learners a world-class education without the burden of excessive student debt.

There are no academic requirements to enroll in MOOCs, so anyone can sit in on a course with a Harvard professor to learn some of the most cutting-edge job skills in the world.

Learning skills with free online courses offers all the value and benefit of learning them in a classroom. These days, employers recognize the achievement of completing a free online course with a renowned professor at an Ivy League university.

The difference between the free and paid versions of a course is that the free version may not include a certificate of completion or personal feedback from the professor. However, paid versions of these courses are generally very affordable and much less expensive than enrollment in an elite university.

In addition to Harvard, Berkeley and MIT, institutions that offer MOOCs include:

  • New York University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University System of Maryland
  • Babson College
  • Imperial College London
  • Australian National University

Not only do these courses provide an elite education, but they offer a wide range of perspectives from top professors located all over the world. MOOCs are convenient, exciting and compelling. Enrolling in MOOCs is a great way to feel energized and eager to wake up in the morning.

What are the best MOOCs for seniors?

Seniors have a great opportunity to learn interesting skills in their spare time with MOOCs. Because most of these courses are free or low-cost, they won’t cause a financial burden. By providing a broad perspective and useful skills, MOOCs can also help seniors become more active in their communities.

The top MOOCs for seniors cover a range of subjects, such as:

  • Web development
  • Nutrition
  • Entrepreneurship
  • World literature
  • Business productivity
  • Computer science
  • Physical fitness

While many people still consider retiring at 55, the average life expectancy for a healthy adult is always increasing. This gives seniors more time to learn new skills or receive the training they’ve always wanted.

Your education doesn’t have to be goal-oriented, however. You can take MOOCs simply to learn about music, history or literature from world-renowned professors.

The beauty of MOOCs is that they offer all the learning potential of higher education without the stress of maintaining a grade point average. Many courses are self-paced, with no pressure to pass an exam by a certain deadline.

Enrolling in online courses: an easy process

It’s easy to sign up for any course you want to take on the EdX platform.

To decide whether you want to take a course, simply click the preview thumbnail, and read the description. Many courses offer a preview video to introduce you to the professor and the subject. The preview page also contains information about the institution offering the course, its cost and the estimated time to completion.

Some courses are completely free and self-paced while others offer free and paid options with a final exam. Once you’ve loaded up your cart with courses, head to the checkout page for enrollment. Your courses will then appear in your student dashboard for easy access, so bookmark this page on your first visit.

Older adults have access to a wide, new range of options for stimulation and entertainment in the digital age. While some seniors will be content streaming TV series or browsing social media, other would rather make progress toward a goal.

With the power and convenience of high-speed internet, online learning has become the wave of the future. Whether your goal is to build a website, study the history of the ancient and modern worlds, or learn a new language, MOOCs can give you the training you need to get started.

At Meadow Lakes senior independent living in East Windsor, you’ll find a number of wellness opportunities to enrich your mind, body, and spirit. Contact us to schedule a visit.