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Free Online Education Apps Revolutionize Modern Learning

Coursera.org has, for years, been the leading website in MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses. This has been due to the esteemed Universities with whom they have tie ups—Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania among them—and the diverse line up of their certified classes (from the Fiction of Relationship to Basic Computer Science to Postmodernism to Astrophysics). They also have (as the MOOC term suggests), an enormous capacity for students—each class can have up to a thousand people enrolled at a time. Their learning materials are also very engaging, being one of the first and only MOOCs to use actual video lectures and footage: literally a digital “classroom”, connecting two people in two separate places. Assignments are also made in real-time, with comments and discussions forum/boards-style encouraging interaction between the students taking the class. Once again, Coursera has upped its game by being one of the first to come up with a digital learning app that students can download on their phones and tablets—available on both Android and iOS—allowing them to take their lessons with them wherever they go. Coursera offers classes for free, with a fee charged only for select certificate courses wherein the certificate and the fee are both optional.

Their new app has sky-rocketed in downloads and has increased the volume of people signing up for classes on Coursera even further. Coursera creators and developers put a lot of thought into taking the digital learning platform to the next level. For instance, one has the option to search courses and enroll in them through the app. They can also stream the video classes or opt to download them in advance which the developers say will keep people from maxing out their data allowance while in transit or during the actual viewing of the videos. There are also very smart limitations placed on the app: for example, you can’t take tests on it or perform peer assessments. The developers say that this is because it’s difficult to focus in transit and they don’t want students submitting requirements or grading their peers in a rush.

The Khan Academy, which is a YouTube learning channel that focuses mostly on maths and the sciences have also recently come up with a downloadable app. However, this is only free on iOS—their app is fairly simpler, as the Khan Academy deals with mostly traditional topics, in a rather traditional way at least as far as technology is concerned: their videos run on YouTube. This operates on a streaming platform and is definitely more casual that Coursera’s although nonetheless, is effective. It automatically syncs to the student’s YouTube account, giving them points for watching the videos (aka “attending the lectures). The app allows access to more than 4,000 Khan Academy educational videos. The app for Android is still in the works.

One of the most highly rated online educational apps is MOOCs4U, which allows students to view course offerings across different platforms including Coursera, Udacity and edX. More a search engine for MOOCs than a MOOC app itself, this allows you to see whether or not the different MOOCs have a downloadable app and redirects you to their download site. Another interesting app which does something slightly different is GroupMOOC. This app is different from everything we’ve mentioned previously because it operates as a modern day filofax: you can organize your schedule, making it easy breezy for you to remember deadlines and when you need to be online to attend your classes on different platforms. It also allows you to sync your schedules with friends and/or classmates enrolled in the same classes.

These new developments from the MOOC community have boosted the literacy rate throughout the United States, making it easy for people everywhere to learn for free. As of today more than 10,000 students are enrolled in Coursera at a time, and the app has gotten tens of thousands of downloads on both the Google PlayStore and Mac’s AppStore. Whereas initially, MOOCs were built around mimicking traditional education modules and the infrastructure of a classroom, these newer developments now have traditional schools and educational institutions looking to mimic the efficient and portable nature of MOOCs. Across the United States this year, more and more schools have digitalized their learning through the use of E-books, online classrooms and the TurnItIn website. Educational officers, app developers and teachers everywhere have big reasons to get excited about the flourishing of education this year.

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