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The internet; arguably the greatest invention ever conceived by human thought.
But the World Wide Web is more than just an endless supply of topical memes and video clips of puppies fighting with mirrors; it has changed the way we perform transactions, access information and educate ourselves.
A particularly interesting development which has occurred recently is the emergence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
The basic idea behind MOOCs is to bring education to anyone with:
This idea has spread to most parts of the world including developing nations such as South Africa, India and China.
In 2011, there were 18 MOOCs available and they were all administered by Stanford University.
In 2016, there were almost 6000 MOOCs, administered by more than 600 universities, which people could choose from.
More and more well-known universities have also bought into using MOOCs as a mass education tool.
EdX, a non-profit learning platform developed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has roughly 2.5 million students worldwide. While locally, MOOCs designed and administered by the University of Cape Town (UCT) have listed among the 50 best MOOCS of all time.
Well that depends on your needs and what you want to achieve.
MOOCs are offered for free. But there are printing and delivery costs involved should you want a physical copy of your completion certificate. They are short courses which usually take between three and six weeks to complete which ARE NOT degree programmes. So for example, getting an undergraduate degree in Business Administration through taking various MOOC courses is not possible.
What you can do though, is refresh, refine and expand your knowledge of your existing qualifications or fields which interest you on a personal level.
I completed a MOOC in Investigative and Data Journalism from the University of Texas in 2014 and I am currently completing a MOOC in Sports Nutrition through the Shaw Academy.
MOOCs are not the answer for people looking for individual attention from lecturers. They mainly use video or audio recordings of lectures as course material, so while interactive question and answer time is usually a feature, it is normally limited to one session per module and held on course forums.