This post is inspired by the Coursera Junkie post by Kathryn last year that happened to invite the ire of lots of learners interested in MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses). Whilst I was observing the comment chain in that post, I had never bothered to actually take the time to research any MOOC courses that offered free certificates or statements of accomplishment. But a few months ago, my once favorite online academy, edX.org had just crossed a line by starting to charge money for their certificates, thus shutting down the last zion of open education left for the learners. And because of this, I felt the need to start researching the alternatives.
Now, I know that lots of critics would be throwing this “free rider” argument against me saying that why should I bother about a few dollars worth if I’m getting a verified certificate, or that paying for a certificate somehow increases the “value” of the course, etc. However, you fail to understand that ultimately, the question is not about the certificate (which is just a piece of paper, anyways). It's really about the learnings and insights about a subject that you take away from a MOOC course. It's also about the collaboration and interaction with other co-students on the academy who take the course along with you. The PDF certificate or transcript is just a downloadable thing that you use to improve your LinkedIn profile, but more importantly, it's an acknowledgement by the academy that you underwent that course.
Now, as an online academy, if you are charging money to give us that acknowledgement, you are no academy but just a profiteer who is running a business. The moment that money comes in the picture, an academy turns into a business and its education quality starts to deteriorate. Right to education, of all things, MUST be based on merit. You can’t bar someone’s entry to education based on the financial ability. This same concept of merit also applies to Open Source software development. Every contributing developer is invited to the project on the basis of merit alone. Further, every commit, every feature request and every decision is based on merit and voting, no company can buy its way through a FOSS project, the Linux kernel project is the proof of that!
If Coursera and edX stopped being academies, and turned into profit-making entities, let them be - there is no dearth of online learning resources! Below are some MOOC courses that provide free transcripts or certificate of accomplishments upon completion (In future, if any of these academies turn out to be like Coursera/edX, rest assured, they will be removed from this list!):
- CS101: Introduction to Computer Science I via Saylor Academy
- CS102: Introduction to Computer Science II via Saylor Academy
- CS107: C++ Programming via Saylor Academy
- CS201: Elementary Data Structures via Saylor Academy
- CS202: Discrete Structures via Saylor Academy
- CS301: Computer Architecture via Saylor Academy
- CS302: Software Engineering via Saylor Academy
- CS303: Algorithms via Saylor Academy
- CS304: Compilers via Saylor Academy
- CS305 Web Development via Saylor Academy
- CS401: Operating Systems via Saylor Academy
- CS402: Computer Communications and Networks
- CS403: Introduction to Modern Database Systems
- CS404: Programming Languages via Saylor Academy
- CS405: Artificial Intelligence via Saylor Academy
- CS406: Information Security via Saylor Academy
- CS408: Advanced Artificial Intelligence
- CS409: Cryptography via Saylor Academy
- CS410: Advanced Databases via Saylor Academy
- CS412: Mobile Applications Development via Saylor Academy
- Learn HTML5 Programming From Scratch via Udemy
- Courses from Open Universities, Australia via open.edu.au
- Concepts in Game Development via open2study.com
- Compiler Design Tutorial: What is, Types, Tools, Example via guru99.com
Provision of free certificate transcripts/statement of accomplishments in each Academy:
=> Saylor Academy provides free certificate of completion upon passing the final exam of every course at learn.saylor.org:
A free certificate of completion is available for every course at learn.saylor.org by passing a course’s final exam with 70% or better. Your digital certificate can be shared privately or publicly, linked to from other websites, downloaded to a PDF file, and printed.
=> Udemy offers certificate of completion for many of its courses
Most courses offer a certificate of completion. When all lectures have been completed, a gold or green trophy will appear, signifying that the certificate of completion is ready for download. Click on the trophy to view the certificate.
=> OpenupED has multiple recognition options. Apart from a free badge/certificate, some courses also offer official formal certificate by the university.:
Always a badge and/or a certificate. I.e. you have the opportunity to get a badge or a certificate of course completion for free (as evidence of completion).
FormalCertificateIn addition the majority of OpenupEd MOOCs provide the possibility to obtain a formal certificate
=> Stanford.edu offers a statement of accomplishments for some of their “In Session” courses:
In Session courses offer a Statement of Accomplishment issued by the instructor upon successful completion.
=> open2study.com offers a free downloadable certificate of accomplishment upon course completion:
Once the course finishes, you will be able to download a certificate of achievement, along with your final grades, via My Study Centre.