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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Academics & Research

UH offers free online courses to the public


finals UH offers free online courses, which include The Bilingual Brain, A Brief History of Human Spaceflight and American Deaf Culture. | File photo/The Cougar

UH offers free online courses, which include “The Bilingual Brain”, “A Brief History of Human Spaceflight” and “American Deaf Culture.” | File photo/The Cougar

The University of Houston offers many courses across multiple disciplines, but students may not know it also offers free online courses on topics not commonly taught.

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are non-credit courses open to the public. Students join these courses in order to develop a certain set of professional skills, or simply because they want to learn more.

“Its a very unique, more open environment,” said English senior Rhiannon Schilling. “It’s a lot more interesting.”

Most courses are offered multiple times per year. UH offers multiple free and unique MOOCs for both students and the public.

A number of classes are set to begin in the coming weeks, with some having already begun. A wide range of topics are offered, with classes from statistics to test preparation.

Supply chain logistics senior Bruno Cabete took one of the open coding classes offered online, because he enjoys coding and the freedom of the class, he said.

“I could take my time to do the work, and I was able to learn it at my own pace,” said Cabete. “It was a much more hands-on style of learning than a regular class.”

There may be a downside to the laid back style of the classes, Schilling said. The classes don’t affect students’ GPAs, and there aren’t penalties for never finishing the course.

“Since it was just for learning, and I never got hounded to do the work, I forgot about it often,” Schilling said.

The most popular course offered is “Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling”. More than 18,000 students are currently signed on to participate. The course is aimed at teaching educators how to more effectively communicate in their classrooms through the use of visual storytelling.

The classes are not always tailored to those already in or have graduated from college. One of the courses offered helps high school students prepare for the AP physics exam.

Another course offered can appeal to both sports fans and math whizzes. “Math behind Moneyball” is a course that will teach how probability, math and statistics affect sports. Students will learn how to have an eye for game strategy and player selection.

Some 2,415 students are already enrolled in “American Deaf Culture”, a class that plans to focus on the Deaf experience in America throughout history. It will explore less about how being deaf is a disability and more about Deaf culture.

The most popular aspect of the open courses for students may just be the price.

“Not paying was great,” Cabete said. “it was still a really good class.”

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