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Can I still take MOOCs for free?

Discussion in 'MOOC FAQ' started by Carolyn, Mar 14, 2017.

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  1. Carolyn

    Carolyn Administrator Staff Member

    Suffolk, UK

    When MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) first came on the scene 5 years ago, they caused a lot of noise around the fact that they provided free Higher Education for the masses - a pretty revolutionary concept given the usual exorbitant cost of university level learning. Anyone could take one of these online courses and get access to the same course content that paying students were getting on a university campus. This included the same lectures delivered by the same professors as well as graded assignments and course completion certificates.

    This format, of course, just couldn't be sustained given the cost of producing, delivering and running a MOOC. So, things started to change. Gradually we saw MOOC platforms quietly introducing fees for certain services that were previously offered free of charge. Udacity started the ball rolling in May 2014 when it stopped offering free certificates. Then it was Coursera the following November which quietly started phasing out the option to gain a free Statement of Accomplishment (Honor Code Track). If learners wanted a certificate they only had only one option: to pay for an identity-verified Certificate. Edx then followed suit in December 2015 when they announced the end of their free honor code certificates, although graded assignments are still available for free on edX contrary to Coursera which added this to their premium options in January 2016. More recently, UK-based FutureLearn has introduced "Course Upgrading", a paid option which gives learners access to their course assignments which were previously free.

    So, with this clear shift towards monetization of MOOCs, is it still possible to take one of these courses for free? Luckily, the answer is yes (for now), although sometimes it isn't always clear how to access the course content without having to pay. See MoocLab's guide How to study MOOCs for free to find out how to do it.

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