While online educational materials and complete courses on various subjects have existed since the first days of the Internet, online learning has advanced significantly with the creation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). These are free courses from some of the most elite universities in the world, including MIT, Harvard and Yale, offered to anyone who has a desire to learn.

MOOCs are slightly different from Internet-based distance learning programs that some colleges now offer. No tuition is charged and anyone is allowed to register for them. They’re also a lot more informal in nature. There are no penalties for dropping the course or falling behind. Completing them also doesn’t lead to obtaining an actual university degree.

Courses are available in a variety of subjects that one might expect at a prestigious university, such as business, art, computer science, literature, languages and a whole lot more. To register for one or more courses, you will first need to visit the website of a university or online education platform that offers them. Some platforms, such as Udemy, Coursera and CourseTalk, allow online students to select from courses offered by different universities. Some also allow students to communicate with each other and professors, as well as complete assignments and evaluations to obtain a grade. A few give a “certificate of completion” to students who have passed a course. While it is not the equivalent to a diploma issued by a university, it serves as proof that the student has mastered the content of the course and some report success in using it to obtain a job or promotion.