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With the dawning of technology came many ways in which one can expand their knowledge base using free online courses.

I am a huge fan of these free courses and have previously partaken in many of them.

There are so many institutions that offer these courses however for today I aim to focus on my top 3.

1) Coursera – This is probably my favourite. It takes courses that are offered via many different institutions. You can pay to get a certificate however you do get a completetion certificate without paying.

Usually lessons are released weekly and have some sort of ‘homework’ that go with them or tests to complete.

The support you get with these courses is amazing. Not only do you get to have a lot of peer to peer support via forums and community boards but you can post directly to the course leader or their assistant.

The first course I completed with Coursera was called Presumed Innocent: The Social Science Of Wrongful Convinction which was via Pennsylvania State University.
I loved this course. I printed out the module guide, read many of the recommended texts and got really involved in the community boards. I passed with distinction and while I didn’t earn a qualification I certainly gained new insights which were invaluable.

The range of courses is extremely varied and there is something for everyone and I would highly recommend them.

Courses I am currently enrolled on with Coursera are:
~Introduction to International Criminal Law
~ Revolutionary Ideas: utility, Justice,  Equality, Freedom.
~ Economic Growth and Distributive Justice Part 1 – The Role Of The State.

Link to the site Coursera

2) Edx – I’m currently studying a course with Edx and from what I have experienced the majority of lessons are via video rather than paper/typed format.

I am enjoying the course but don’t find it as interactive as Coursera. The content was already all published too which means I do not have to wait for weekly releases.
I can’t comment as to what happens when you complete the course as I am part way through.
The content is varied like Coursera and have 100’s to chose from, and appear to be different from the ones offered by Coursera.

The course also supplies a further reading guide which I always enjoy.

Courses I am currently enrolled on with Edx are:
~ The Psychology Of Criminal Justice
~ Jury X: Deliberation For Social Change

Link to the site Edx

3) Open University – The free courses by OU are versions of their paid courses. More like a short course. Mostly just text lessons,  there are no tests, homework or anything with these. It is purely information. Like Edx the course content is all there ready so you can work through it at your own pace.

At the end there is nothing provided other than references and further reading.

The selection of courses is not as broad as with Coursera and Edx but the quality is just as good.
These are great courses if you are short on time or want to top of your knowledge about something you’ve already studied.

I’ve completed a few courses via OU now, the latest was Criminology Beyond Crime and I really enjoyed it. I have found more courses for my speciality via OU than the others but that is mainly because it is UK based only and therefore more relevant.

Courses I am currently enrolled on with Open University are:
~ Children’s Rights
~ Reading Evidence
~ Psychology in the 21st Century
~ Human Rights and Law
~ Forensic Psychology
~ The USA, Power and International Order
~ Introduction to Cyber Security
~ Crimes of the Powerful
~ Rights ane Justice in International Relations

Link to the site OpenLearn

So there we have it. I highly recommend any of these 3 e-course providers. When knowledge comes free it would be silly to waste it.

Thanks for reading

The Stationery Geekette x

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