It’s a whole new world-train and learn online

Upgrading your skills or acquiring some new ones? Consider some of the options to a traditional face-to-face class when choosing a training course. For some people, studying online can be a big convenience and can end up saving you a lot of money.

Of course, not all online alternatives are equal, so take some time to find out what your choices are. And don’t forget to check out course reviews or discussions about the course on sites like Reddit.


Universities and colleges have been offering online courses for years – and charging hefty tuition fees in the process. More recently, MOOCs have started to turn that educational model on its head! Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are designed with open access and unlimited participation in mind. They usually combine traditional methods for delivering course materials such as videos, recorded lectures, and readings with interactive and collaborative elements such as wikis and forums. MOOCs are generally free or inexpensive, but, although the courses are taught by professors, don’t expect much personal attention from the staff. Students in MOOCs get feedback and/or marks from peers or through self-marking online assessments like quizzes.

It is usually necessary to do a bit of research to find a suitable MOOC. Start with some of the leading providers of MOOCs like Coursera, Udacity, and edX and keep looking until you find one that offers the skills training, flexibility, cost, credentials, format and schedule that works for you.

Blended courses:

Blended classes combine the value of face to face learning with the flexibility of completing part of the course hours online at a time and place convenient for the learner.

A quick Google search brings up several local colleges and universities that deliver blended classes in topics such as healthcare, pharmacy, business, technology, and more! Of course, these are not necessarily low cost but they may fit your schedule better than a traditional classroom course. Keep in mind that some settlement services organizations, like ISSofBC, offer free English courses for intermediate or advance level newcomers in a blended format.

Online Tutorials

If taking a full course is not necessary or possible, check out some of the many excellent free or cheap online tutorials now available through websites such as lynda.comw3schools.com, or gcflearnfree.org. Don’t forget to search YouTube for videos demonstrating anything from soccer to software engineering!

A Note on Accreditation:

Most MOOCs and online tutorials don’t count toward college or university credit. If that is one of your priorities, you may want to consider a traditional online (or blended) course at an accredited university or college or a MOOC that costs more but offers this benefit.

On the other hand, many MOOCs offer students an opportunity to gain recognized credentials in the form of Open Badges. These digital badges contain metadata with information about the issuer, criteria for acquiring the badge (such as skills learned), and more. Badges are still fairly new, but are gaining in popularity and recognition. You can find more information about Open Badges at openbadges.org.


About the Author: Janis Fair is the Online and Technology Coordinator for the LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) program at ISSofBC where she maintains the student website, coordinates the online courses and manages the ePortfolio component of the LINC for Employment program. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.


18 thoughts on “It’s a whole new world-train and learn online”

  1. Online learning is an useful tool that helps to enrich our culture and satisfy our “thirst” of knowledge. It’s easily accessible at anytime and from everywhere, but – in this case – I prefer the interaction with the class, the collaboration with my classmates and the guidance of my teachers.

  2. Thank you Janis for all informations. On line class look very appropriate for adult class. In my case, I like to blend with real class, I like to share experience or everything with my classmate with one goal work on my English skills. Moreover, online class it’s when I have more time (evening, lunch time, week-end).

  3. This article gives me an idea how can I improve my skill without leaving my job and move to another city. I can choose which skill training that I’m interested in. But for me, I like to come to the class than taking an online class. As English is not my first language it will so hard for me to understand. But, when I come to the class and see how teacher says it and see the body language it will help me to understand. Furthermore, when I don’t understand I can ask directly and get the answer right away.

  4. Online learning is a very good source of learning,which help people to mantain their learning according to their time .I really like reading online or learning something new .I can learn wherever and whenever i want to learn. It’s really helpful for people, who want to study but don’t have much time to go to school or college or sometimes it’s not affordable.Personally I love to learn online because I can read anything and anytime .I really want to do some courses but it’s not easy to do while living in town which is far from city .I have never take any online course before because I was not comfortable but since I am doing my online homework from ISS OF BC ,I am getting more comfortable doing it .

  5. Online learning is a good way for everyone so they can arrange their time to study.I can learn wherever and whenever i want to learn. It’s really helpful for people, who want to study but don’t have much time to go to school or college or sometimes it’s not affordable.Personally I love to learn online because I can read anything and anytime .I really want to do some courses but it’s not easy to do while living in town which is far from city .I have never take any online course before because I was not comfortable but since I am doing my online homework from ISS OF BC ,I am getting more comfortable doing it .

  6. Learning online is an excellent way for those who are working or don’t have enough time and money to go to actual school. Especially its a great benefit for those who don’t live in a big city where there is always an access to all kinds of schools and universities. Although I like to interact with real people at class, I also like to take my free time to study online. Even if I don’t get any credits from online learning, its always a great way to improve myself. I never took online learning course other than ISS of BC, but whenever there is a chance or there is a course that inspires me, I would love to try one.

    1. I am taking some courses online. Coursera.org offers some excellent courses from famous universities around the world. You can choose to get a certificate (it costs money) or just audit the course.

  7. Thank you Janis for providing so much useful information and resources. I heard MOOCs long time ago, but never try it. Although it becomes more and more popular in my original country, I have no idea how does it work. Your blog just fed my with appropriate instruction. Online-learning not only offer great courses that you never expected from leading universities or colleges, but also provide a bigger flexibility of time and place. First and last, I like online-learning and would be happy to try the resources you mentioned.

  8. Personally I am very interested on online learning. They are available anytime, anywhere and most of them are free. I already know about Coursera, one of the MOOCs. It is very useful and contains variety of courses with high quality. If you enroll in lessen related to your speciality you can keep yourself up to date and also review your knowledge .Participation in different courses dose not need any degree. I am a student in English class of ISS of BC, and in online activity except the main lessen you can find many another resources to improving your ability in different skills. I think in near future the online learning will be an important part of teaching around the world.

  9. This post is really nice because it contains a really good information that a lot of people does not know how it works. There are several courses that we can explore and take advantage of. Nowadays the technology is helping us to reach new elements to improve our knowledge in really cheap ways or free, making it more affordable. Sharing information and interacting with different people around the world is a excellent way to learn and keep updated about anything we want to know. These are the perfect way to learn from home without expend a lot of money, so there is not excuses to do not improve our selfs. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the post! I have accessed online courses from iTune University and really love it. I was not aware of those websites mentioned in the blog, and it is very nice to know of them.
      Online courses enable us to obtain knowledge in a more convenient, affordable and flexible way. I highly appreciate and respect those people and organizations who contribute to the free/cheap online courses. It’s so valuable to those live in poverty.

  10. Very useful post Janis, Thank you. I think considering today’s pace of life, these kind of educational model will be more popular than the traditional ways for example I know so many people that is more concentrated at night in stead of morning, or some people prefer to stay at home and learn through online courses.Having the ability to choose the time and method of learning which is most suitable for your life style is priceless.

  11. Excellent blog post! Silvia, I like your comment too.
    I had heard about MOOC’s but didn’t really know what they are until I’ve read the blog. I went to their website and checked it out, so many interesting topics! Even though the course I would be interested in wasn’t available right now , there’s this tool where you can type in your email address and get on a “watch list”. Next time there is an opening for this particular course I will be informed.
    I like the idea about online courses and here they make it easy for anyone to register, you can improve your knowledge no matter where you live and how wealthy you are.

  12. Online learning is a good way for people to arrange their time to study. You can learn wherever and whenever you want to learn. That really help people, who want to study but the time is always hard to match, to solve the problem of time.

  13. Hi Janis!
    I am an enthusiastic of online courses, from the OpenCourseWare of the MIT (where I have found excellent resources) to Coursera, EdX and Stanford online. For me, this kind of courses work well because even though I can learn by my own the fact of having deadlines and homework to do steer me to learn more and better. But, I think I still have to improve my learning in this MOOCs, particularly by using the forums and building networks with my course mates. Also, in my case I’m not looking for the certificate, instead I am interested in acquiring knowledge, and that is why the “Statements of accomplishment” works well for me.
    I am glad to live in a time and place where anything I want to know it’s just a ‘click’ ago even if my teacher is in the other hemisphere. And where we can take the responsibility for our own learning.

  14. Great blog post Janis! I am a fan of Moocs and have completed a few through Coursera. I wanted to add that Moocs allow you to get into “specializations”, which are group of courses delivered by recognized universities in fields such as social issues, biology, medicine, IT or business. Although they still don’t earn credits, you can earn a certificate. Similarly, paying a very small fee ($39-$59 depending on the course and university), you can earn a “signature track” certificate that certifies that you were the one behind the computer and completing the assessments, tests, etc.
    The links to the completed courses can be posted on LinkedIn and you can print the certificates, adding them to your portfolio. The courses are (in most cases) very similar in depth to a regular university course, most of them very well developed and excellent delivery…I think it is just a matter of time these courses will start being recognized by employers and even universities (some of them are already recognizing them if you took the course with them, but to get the credits you have to join a program and/or pay the fees)
    If you do more than the “average” in one of this courses, you can also earn a distinction certificate, usually you need to complete 80% or more…
    I highly recommend them…

    1. Thank you so much for the information you have shared here.I had gained access on ISSofBC’s free online English course.True that it is free,but I never imagined how informative and helpful this course offers.While I am improving on my English,I do get more information about Canada and a lot more .

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