Interested in physics? How about American history, Economics or the music of the Beatles? It’s all just a few clicks away. The recent explosion of online educational resources has made a dizzying array of educational content available to anyone with an internet connection. Khan Academy, ITunes U, and Coursera are just a few of the sites where you’ll find massive open online courses. Yes, they’re called MOOCs (rhymes with dukes), and they come in many flavors. Some offer short video segments featuring an off-screen teacher and a virtual blackboard. Others feature university lectures, reading assignments and a four to 12 week-long syllabus.
So how do you know which type of course is for you. Well, it usually comes down to your level of interest and the amount of time you have to spare. The great thing about MOOCs is that they are usually free and available 24/7. So, don’t be afraid to explore and don’t feel guilty about not completing a particular course. The whole point is to learn what you want, when you want!
The big MOOC players like Khan Academy, EdX, Coursera, and Udacity offer dozens of courses ranging from basic algebra to Greek philosophy. However, there are also many websites that provide general information on a more narrow realm of topics. For example National Geographic and PBS provide excellent articles, photos, and videos about human culture and science. Other websites, such as the NDT (Nondestructive Testing) Resource Center and Jefferson Lab provide more scientific and technological information in a user friendly format.
Those of us interested in welding can find a good number of educational websites that offer both free content and paid courses. For example, Miller, Lincoln, and ESAB provide text, video and PowerPoint presentations that cover the basics of welding and several specific welding processes.
American Welding Online is more like a MOOC. Here, the student or professional can access free podcast presentations on the latest developments in welding and welding education, as well as paid courses that delve deeper into a variety of topics. These include Welding Fundamentals, Safety in Welding, Understanding Welding Symbols, Math for welders I, Science of Nondestructive Testing and Metallurgy for the Non-Metallurgist. AWO courses are comprehensive but not necessarily complex. They present complex principles and operations in an engaging, easy-to-understand, modular format that allows the participant to learn at his own pace. AWO course hours also count towards a CWIs personal development hours.