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). Its really about the learnings and insights about a subject that you take away from a MOOC course. Its 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, its 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!):
Course Name Start Date
CS101: Introduction to Computer Science I via Saylor Academy self paced CS102: Introduction to Computer Science II via Saylor Academy self paced CS107: C++ Programming via Saylor Academy self paced CS201: Elementary Data Structures via Saylor Academy self paced CS202: Discrete Structures via Saylor Academy self paced CS301: Computer Architecture via Saylor Academy self paced CS302: Software Engineering via Saylor Academy self paced CS303: Algorithms via Saylor Academy self paced CS304: Compilers via Saylor Academy self paced CS305 Web Development via Saylor Academy self paced CS401: Operating Systems via Saylor Academy self paced CS402: Computer Communications and Networks self paced CS403: Introduction to Modern Database Systems self paced CS404: Programming Languages via Saylor Academy self paced CS405: Artificial Intelligence via Saylor Academy self paced CS406: Information Security via Saylor Academy self paced CS408: Advanced Artificial Intelligence self paced CS409: Cryptography via Saylor Academy self paced CS410: Advanced Databases via Saylor Academy self paced CS412: Mobile Applications Development via Saylor Academy self paced Learn HTML5 Programming From Scratch via Udemy self paced Behind and Beyond Big Data via online.stanford.edu April 18, 2016 Careers in Media Technology via online.stanford.edu February 2, 2016 Concepts in Game Development via open2study.com 30/05/2016
Provision of free certificate transcripts/statement of accomplishments in each Academy:
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.
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.
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
In Session courses offer a Statement of Accomplishment issued by the instructor upon successful completion.
Once the course finishes, you will be able to download a certificate of achievement, along with your final grades, via My Study Centre.