15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

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Once a novelty, today there are more online courses than you can shake a stick at.
Free-online-courses

It seems that every university and graduate school now has hundreds of courses for you to choose from. However, they vary significantly in quality, which is why’ve we’ve taken out the guesswork for you and picked 15 free courses that are useful, truly worthwhile, and highly regarded.

Content in this guide

  1. How To Build A Start-up
  2. Model Thinking
  3. Introduction to Finance
  4. Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship
  5. An Introduction to Operations Management
  6. On Strategy: What Managers Can Learn from Great Philosophers
  7. A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behaviour
  8. Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II/a>
  9. Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences for Your Organisation
  10. The Science of Everyday Thinking
  11. Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?
  12. Building Mobile Experiences
  13. An Introduction to Credit Risk Management
  14. SEO Fundamentals
  15. Online Marketing Fundamentals

1

How To Build A Start-up

Udacity-logo

  • Platform: Udacity
  • Length: This class is self-paced. You can begin whenever you like and then follow your own pace.
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: Because it’s self-paced, it’s a good idea to set goals for yourself to make sure you stick with the course.
  • Why you should consider it: You’ll learn the key tools and steps to build a successful start-up (or at least reduce the risk of failure). Included is an introduction to the basics of Steve Blank’s famous Customer Development process, where entrepreneurs “get out of the building” to gather massive amounts of customer and marketplace feedback, and then use that feedback to continuously iterate and evolve their start-up business models, improving the chances of success at every step.

Related: Start your Business with R80


2

Model Thinking

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 4 to 8 hours of work per week, over 20 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: Students should be very comfortable with basic algebra. Calculus isn’t necessary but a conceptual understanding of how derivatives give the slope at a point proves useful.
  • Why you should consider it: You will learn how to think with models and use them to make sense of the complex world around us. Evidence shows that people who think with models consistently outperform those who don’t. And, moreover people who think with lots of models outperform people who use only one. Why do models make us better thinkers? Models help us to better organise information – to make sense of that fire hose or hairball of data (choose your metaphor) available on the Internet. Models improve our abilities to make accurate forecasts. They help us make better decisions and adopt more effective strategies. They can even improve our ability to design institutions and procedures.

3

Introduction to Finance

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 4 to 7 hours of work per week. Exposure to economics, accounting, and/or algebra and statistics will help. However, the course covers the fundamentals and will highlight when there is a need for you to do some further work in specific subjects.
  • Why you should consider it: This course will introduce you to frameworks and tools to measure value; both for corporate and personal assets. It will also help you in decision-making, again at both the corporate and personal levels. This course is primarily devoted to the fundamental principles of valuation. We will learn and apply the concepts of time value of money and risk to understand the major determinants of value creation. We will use both theory and real world examples to demonstrate how to value any asset.

Related: 10 Free Online Courses That Can Benefit Every Entrepreneur


4

Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 5 to 7 hours of work per week. The presenters expect this course to be taken by people completely new to the topics, and have designed the content in that way.
  • Why you should consider it: You will explore how to identify and develop great ideas into great companies, to identify opportunities based on real customer needs, to develop solid business models, and to create successful companies. This course assists aspiring entrepreneurs in developing great ideas into great companies. With strong economies presenting rich opportunities for new venture creation, and challenging economic times presenting the necessity for many to make their own job, the need to develop the skills to develop and act on innovative business opportunities is ever present.

5

An Introduction to Operations Management

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 8 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 5 to 7 hours of work per week. The course is designed for business school students and executives. There are no academic prerequisites for the course; this is not a math course and nothing done in this course requires more than high school math. This course will be helpful to students who are preparing for their career in business and want to lay some foundations or for those who are in the middle of their career and have some real problems to solve right now
  • Why you should consider it: This course will teach you how to analyse and improve business processes, be it in services or in manufacturing. You will learn how to improve productivity, provide more choice to customers, reduce response times, and improve quality. Along the way, you will learn about topics such as Lean Operations, Six Sigma, and the Toyota production system, you will hear about bottlenecks, flows rates, and inventory levels.

Related: 6 Free Online Classes For Digital-Marketing Beginners


6

On Strategy: What Managers Can Learn from Great Philosophers (Part 1)

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 2 to 3 hours of work per week. No background knowledge or skills are required, though an interest in philosophy is recommended.
  • Why you should consider it: With the help of great philosophers, you will rediscover the art of thinking. The success of a business depends on its capacity to make a difference regarding competition. Creativity demands the ability to unshackle yourself from conventional ways of thinking, to “think outside the box”. However, once outside the box, you need to construct a new box or boxes (new intellectual frameworks or models) to help you structure your thinking, so you can generate truly game-changing ideas.

7

International Leadership and Organisational Behaviour

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 7 – 11 hours of work per week. Curiosity about human nature.
  • Why you should consider it: If you really want to learn how organisations behave and take decisions and at the same time develop leadership skills, then this is the course for you.

Related: 4 Behaviours You Never Want to See in a Leader


8

Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 4 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 4 – 6 hours of work per week. You may attend this Course even if you did not take Grow to Greatness, Part 1. The only prerequisite is an interest in learning about how privately owned entrepreneurial businesses grow. The course is aimed at students, business owners, managers and employees of private businesses, and people interested in growth, economic development, and job creation.
  • Why you should consider it: This course focuses on people challenges faced by private businesses when they attempt to grow substantially. You will study stories of how six different private businesses faced their growth challenges. While strategic focus and operational excellence are necessary to build a great growth company, they are not sufficient. Growth requires the right kind of leadership, culture, and people. The research shows that every growth business faces common challenges. You can learn from others’ experience – you do not have to “reinvent the wheel”.

9

Content Strategy for Professionals: Engaging Audiences for Your Organisation

coursera-logo

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 3 – 6 hours of work per week. This is for people anywhere in an organisation who have content development experience and want to significantly improve their abilities to understand audiences and develop strategic words, pictures, graphics and videos to convey their organisation’s most important goals.
  • Why you should consider it: This course is for people who have content development experience and now want to significantly improve their abilities to understand audiences and develop strategic words, pictures, graphics, and videos to convey their organisation’s most important goals. Content strategy is a conversation that provides thought-leadership. It starts a “conversation” with users and stakeholders inside and outside an organisation. Conversations also enable people to develop “stories,” which lead to understanding and helpful mental pictures.

Related: Are You Torturing Your Customers?


10

The Science of Everyday Thinking

EDX-logo

  • Platform: edX
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 2 hours per week. No prerequisites
  • Why you should consider it: This course will explore everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions. It debates topics such as medical diagnosis, paranormal phenomena, placebos, miracles, and more. You will learn how to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. The course provides tools for how to think independently, how to be sceptical, and how to value data over personal experience. We will examine the mental shortcuts and rules-of-thumb that people use and misuse, and apply this knowledge to everyday situations to help make better decisions.

11

Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?

EDX-logo

  • Platform: edX
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 4 hours per week. No prerequisites
  • Why you should consider it: You have an idea for a product, but do you know who will want to buy it? Many seemingly great ideas and technologies come to a sudden halt in the face of one simple, inescapable question: “Who is your customer?” Every class session will be an in-depth and focused case study of MIT entrepreneurs from areas as diverse as mobile applications, 3D printing, power electronics, international development, and watchmaking. You will learn, through the stories of MIT entrepreneurs, how to go from idea or technology to the necessary understanding of who and why will want to buy your product.

Related: Complete an MBA for Free. Really!


12

Building Mobile Experiences

  • EDX-logoPlatform: edX
  • Length: 12 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 10 – 12 hours of work per week. Java experience (or Objective C for iOS users) and a smartphone are required.
  • Why you should consider it: This is a project-based course that guides students through creating a novel mobile application – from generative research to design, usability, implementation and field evaluation. This course will explore what makes mobile devices unique. A primary focus will be on studying existing behaviour and using key findings for design. While writing the code for an app is a part of the class, the majority of the topics will cover designing and evaluating a unique mobile experience. Along the way, you will have opportunities to share your work with other students from around the world.

13

An Introduction to Credit Risk Management

EDX-logo

  • Platform: edX
  • Length: 7 weeks
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: 6 hours of work per week. You should have completed introductory courses in statistics and probability and have a basic knowledge of financial vocabulary
  • Why you should consider it: What is credit risk? Why is it so important, in modern economies, to correctly deal with it? This course combines theory with practice to answer these questions. At the end of the course, you will be able to understand and use the basic tools of credit risk management, both from a theoretical and, most of all, a practical point of view.

Related: Digital Media Influencers Under 30 Dominating the Digital World


14

SEO Fundamentals

Lynda.com logo

  • Platform: lynda.com
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: Video tutorial. 3 hours, 29 minutes. Beginner level.
  • Why you should consider it: In this course, you’ll learn what search engine optimisation (SEO) is and how you can start using it to increase your website’s visibility to search engines and attract the right kind of traffic to the right kinds of pages on your site. Discover how to read a results page and find your ranking, and see how rankings affect both large and small businesses. Then find out how to implement basic optimisation strategies, like conducting keyword research, building inbound links, optimising your pages and content, and measuring your successes and progress while planning for a long-term SEO strategy. SEO for ecommerce, local search, and an international audience round out this comprehensive look at the basics of SEO.

15

Online Marketing Fundamentals

Lynda.com logo

  • Platform: lynda.com
  • Time commitment/Pre-requisites: Video tutorial. 3 hours, 29 minutes. Beginner level.
  • Why you should consider it: In Online Marketing Fundamentals, marketers, web designers, business owners, and executives will be introduced to the world of online marketing. The course takes a look at the basis of any online marketing effort – a business’s website – and reviews how the different components of the site can support the business’s goals, from SEO and SEM to social media, online PR and content marketing.

 Related: The Only Productivity Tip You’ll Ever Need

Apr 4, 2016
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.
  • http://www.myofficesupport.co.uk MyOfficeSupport

    The Lynda.com courses stated here are not free, you have to be a member! I don’t know about the others.