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EdX: Free Online Courses for Lifelong Learners

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In today’s economy, a university education is anything but inexpensive. In fact, according to The College Board, a not-for-profit organization, average tuition and fees for full-time in-state students enrolled at public four-year universities and colleges were $9,650 for the 2016-2017 school year. Tuition and fees for students choosing out-of-state colleges were more than twice that—an average $24,930.

If you’ve already completed your degree—and aren’t currently paying or saving for your children’s educations—then these numbers may not concern you. But what if you need to take a few classes to remain relevant in your chosen career? Or perhaps you’ve been planning a dream vacation to another country and want to learn more about the language and culture before you depart? Do learning institutions expect you to pay sky-high prices for continuing education as well? The answer is probably yes—unless you enroll at edX.

RewardExpert recently spoke with Anant Agarwal, MIT professor and CEO of edX, about the online learning destination’s mission and diverse course offerings.

EdX offers free online courses

Creating a Culture of Lifelong Learning

Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX’s mission is to democratize and reimagine education by increasing access and creating a culture of lifelong learning.

“It’s the premier open source, nonprofit online learning destination and massive open online course provider,” Agarwal explained. “We offer high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions.”

He noted that students enrolled in edX courses range in age from seven to 96 years old.

“However, 67 percent of our learners are continuing learners over the age of 25,” Agarwal continued. “They are taking edX courses and programs to both advance their careers and because they have a love of lifelong learning.”

High-Quality Courses Absolutely Free

At present, edX offers 1,500 high-quality courses from the world’s best universities, colleges and corporations.

“The courses are created by our partner institutions and cover a wide array of topics, from introductory courses to career-focused learning,” Agarwal said. “The most popular course subject areas are computer science, engineering, humanities, business management and statistics, and data analysis. Most of the courses range in length from four to 10 weeks, with the majority being self-paced.”

Visitors to can browse courses by subject or search for classes on specific topics. Some courses offer edX verified certificates that provide proof of completion. Others allow students to earn professional certificates. You can even earn college credit for completing credit-eligible courses.

Except for professional education courses, edX courses are completely free if you choose to enroll in the audit track. The audit track gives you access to all course materials, including assignments and exams. However, if you wish to earn a verified certificate, you will pay a fee per course that ranges between $50 and $300.

edX Courses are absolutely free
Both audit and certified tracks are available on edX

An Easy Enrollment Process

Enrolling in the audit track for an edX course is easy. You’ll simply select the course you want to take from the edX Course Catalog, create an edX account, and select the Audit this Course option. You can learn more about how edX courses work—from enrollment to grades and completion—in the edX Demo Course.

Complete your edX courses on any desktop or laptop computer with an Internet connection or use the free edX mobile app for Android or iPhone to complete courses on smartphones or tablets.

While the majority of edX courses are taught in English, the institution recently launched a Spanish language platform.

“Now users with their browser preferences set to Spanish will experience the edX platform completely in Spanish,” Agarwal said. “edX currently offers over 110 courses in Spanish from 10 partner institutions from across Latin America, the United States and Spain.”

Courses for Travel and Culture Enthusiasts

You don’t need to be working towards a college degree or professional certificate to find interesting, worthwhile educational opportunities on edX. Agarwal recommended the following courses for students who are passionate about travel and cultural exploration:

Basic Mandarin Chinese – Level 1. Offered by MandarinX, this course is the first in a series of six courses designed to teach students Mandarin Chinese. Enroll for free or add a verified certificate for $49.

Basic Spanish 1: Getting Started. Offered by UPValenciaX, this is a seven-week course for students who wish to learn conversational Spanish beginning with the basics. Enroll for free or add a verified certificate for $40.

The Architectural Imagination. Offered by HarvardX, this 10-week course examines architectural expression and the social and historical contexts behind major works or architecture. Enroll for free or add a verified certificate for $99.

Introduction to German Opera. Offered by DartmouthX, this course is a four-week exploration of German opera. Students will learn about its history and conventions as well as develop close listening and musical analysis skills. Enroll for free or add a verified certificate for $49.

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