Online universities and education programs
Learning is a lifelong process. But many people have to leave traditional modes of education at a certain age due to several reasons – from financial problems that force them to seek employment and taking care of aging parents, to ill-health, moving home and much more. Yet, many of these who enjoyed learning to seek to return to the fold at a later age. Earlier, these people had a limited number of options where they could enroll in short courses offered by their community colleges or certain universities. But thanks to the Internet, they now have a wide variety of courses to choose from. From the usual basic sciences and traditional art courses to more specialized one in the IT domain (web designing, machine learning and AI, data science etc), a lot is on offer to meet the varied interests of older learners.
Meeting the needs of older and returning students
Working adults often need flexibility in courses, which they can complete at their own pace and time. While some may just want to leverage online learning opportunities to finish their degrees or get a refresher course related to their job, some others may be looking for more extensive learning. A handful may even be interested in a flexible schedule that lets them balance their job and other responsibilities with learning. Online courses and universities today have something or the other to meet all such varied needs, which is almost unthinkable in a traditional classroom setting. Perhaps this is the key reason behind the fast-growing popularity of such courses, not only among the elderly but across all age groups.
| Albert Einstein once said: Once you stop learning, you start dying. |
Making education accessible to the elderly not only satiates their hunger to know more but even benefits their brain by keeping it active by encouraging the growth of new cells that help in improving their memory and problem-solving skills. Getting involved in learning something new can also help improve their memory function and cognitive ability, which in turn would keep these older learners protected against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Top US Universities that offer some popular online courses
Several US universities use progressive distance learning methodologies to offer online courses that encourage the flexible way of learning. Here are some that you can consider:
It offers an extensive range of online diplomas, graduate programs, and professional certificates (non-credit) along with an undergraduate degree completion program. You may even find a handful of online doctoral programs. From videos and online lectures to discussion boards and interactive animations, the course contents are designed for self-paced study with flexibility.
- Georgia Institute of Technology
Commonly called Georgia Tech, it offers online degrees in the domains of Sciences, Engineering, and Computer Science.
- University of California, Berkeley
From MOOC (massive open online course) projects and online degrees to credit and non-credit courses, you will get them all on offer here. From courses carrying transferable academic credit (offered by the University of California Berkley Extension) to study programs and full certificates in areas like marketing, business analysis, paralegal studies or advanced bio-sciences, this university is a treasure trove for sure.
- University of Colorado, Denver
Some of its 140+ degree programs can be pursued online. This university values inclusion and diversity, and brings in students with different perspectives and experiences together.
- Special mention – Harvard University
At the Harvard Online Learning portal, you will get access to the university’s extensive learning content. Though the site doesn’t host direct learning content, you will get to browse and learn from materials from professors, schools, libraries, centers, and initiatives across the Harvard campus.
Whether you are an educator or researcher, or a lifelong learner in pursuit of intellectual and personal interests, this online learning resource of Harvard will help a lot for sure.
Leading online programs
This learning platform was established by Harvard and the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to offer free online courses from both universities in addition to some offered by their partner academic institutions to anyone with an Internet connection.
Founded by two Stanford professors, this platform has online courses (priced between $29 and $99) from top universities and companies like Stanford, Michigan, Yale, IBM, and Google – among others. Apart from learning, you can even earn valuable credentials by taking these courses that are supported by recorded video lectures, peer-reviewed and auto-graded assignments, and community discussion forums.
It’s a for-profit educational platform that aims to democratize education by offering outstanding higher education opportunities online that are flexible, accessible and economical. From VR development, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning, to Web Development, Google Adwords and much more, the platform’s free online courses and nano degree programs will let you learn the latest suite of job-ready skills.
Unlike academic MOOC programs, this platform can be called a marketplace for online learning and teaching, which has 80000+ courses (on varied subjects – from programming and marketing to data science, yoga, and much more) and 24 million students.
Thus, it appears that leading universities and companies are offering full support to online learning platforms. Together with some for-profit platforms, they are really changing the way people learn at an advanced age at their own pace.