The Open Education Database, or OEDb, aggregates free online classes available elsewhere on the web, making it easy to find courses in a variety of disciplines. Currently, it has more than 10,000 courses available — all of them free. It also has a helpful advice section of the website that can help students make wise choices about online education.
VMware also has an extensive training section on its website, including a helpful list of popular free courses. Many of the courses on the site that lead to a professional certification require a fee, but there are many that do not. The company offers a mix of self-paced, live online and on-demand classes.
Another option for free online IT education is to take courses directly from vendors. Microsoft Virtual Academy has an extensive lineup of free courses for mobile and Web developers; game developers; network, infrastructure and cloud engineers; database admins, architects and developers; and students interested in a career in technology.
In addition to participating with other online education sites, many universities have sections of their own websites dedicated to free online classes. MIT has been a leader in the OpenCourseWare (OCW) movement and has an extensive catalog of free IT classes available. It includes materials for more than 2,260 classes, and the site has been visited by more than 175 million people.
Like MIT, Harvard has an extensive section of its website dedicated to online classes; however, not all of the Harvard courses are available for free. The site does a good job of noting which require a fee and whether courses can be counted towards a credential, certificate, or degree. In general, courses that can be taken for credit require tuition payment.
Boasting a community of more than 5 million learners, EdX offers online courses from some of the world’s leading science and technology universities, including MIT, Harvard, University of California Berkeley, Caltech, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan.
Coursera offers online access to classes from 147 different colleges, universities and other organizations in 29 different countries. For example, they have courses from Georgia Tech, the University of Florida, The University of Virginia, École Polytechnique in Paris, The University of Melbourne, The University of Edinburgh, Stanford University, Tel Aviv University and many others. And there are entire sections of the website devoted to computer science and data science courses.
In recent years, several “coding bootcamps” have sprouted up, promising to teach people to become developers in much less time than it takes to earn a traditional computer science degree. Most of these bootcamps charge hefty fees, but Codecademy offers its online courses for free.
Another, less formal option for online IT education is Udemy. At this site, anyone can create their own course, so the quality of instruction varies widely. Students should check reviews and rankings before signing up.