The Top 10 Open Course Education Websites of 2017 
Our TOP 10 Educational Websites are all recommended by multiple teachers, home educators, and homeschool parents through various feedback channels. All sites have received our Purple Stamp of Approval that honors exemplary websites/apps that offer quality, innovative, unique, cost-effective, or significant value to teachers, educators, and homeschooling families. None of these websites paid to be on this list. We hope you enjoy browsing through our list and discovering new sites that can improve your homeschool in the upcoming year.
Home educators and independent educators of high school students are often challenged with how to teach the more advanced and difficult high school courses. One viable option is taking advantage of web based classes and instruction. Increasingly, universities are offering free online courses to the public. Recently, Oxford announced that it would be joining the fast-growing list in 2017. While these courses do not usually count as college credit, they can certainly be classified as high school credit. Many sites will offer a ’transcript’ for the class if needed (usually for a fee).
Without a doubt, Coursera.org was the most highly praised open course website by homeschooling families. Looking toward 2017, Coursera will continue to be the industry leader in massive open online courses. Why do homeschoolers constantly recommend Coursera? They love that they have access to professors from top universities , coupled with the chance to interact on the discussion forums with more than 23 million users from around the globe. Home schoolers acknowledge that although the courses are typically designed for college level study, the content and skills learned are often transferable to high school classwork and various learning levels. This creates a wealth of opportunity for homeschoolers to engage in these courses for college prep or simply for the joy of learning something new. Homeschoolers were most enthused about the rapidly growing number ofcourses available with flexible curriculums.
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere. edX was a huge service to hundreds of homeschool families in 2016 and will continue to be one of the top resources for any educator. In addition to being completely free, there is an option to add paid verification. These college level online courses can be used as high school curriculum or supplemental resources. A useful article on homeschooling + edX is available on their blog - Using edX Courses in a Homeschool Program.
The Great Courses
Home educators are outspoken about their love of The Great Courses. Some educators use the lectures and the included course guidebook to address specific learning goals and objectives in a class format. Others use The Great Courses as a supplement to add depth and richness to a specific subject that they alone couldn’t achieve. This is, in part, because each Great Course is typically taught by a university professor who has expertise in the specific course and brings the material to life.
The Great Courses Plus offers over 8,000 engaging video lectures that can be enjoyed on almost any digital device. Amazon Prime Video also offers an excellent Great Courses channel.
Udemy is a global marketplace for learning and teaching online. It serves over 14 million students, offers over 42,000 courses on 81 languages, and works on any device. Udemy’s courses are not primarily free, but homeschool parents and students are recommending them all the same. Our educators told us that Udemy offers courses on just about every topic and has a much better variety of age-appropriate courses than most online course websites. Udemy is uniquely able to add learning value to parents, educators, and students alike. Based on the feedback we received, parents can enroll in courses such as Introduction to Homeschooling or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Creativity Workshop, while homeschool students can choose classes like High School Algebra For Beginners or Art History Renaissance to 20th Century.
“Pioneering the best social learning experiences for everyone anywhere.”
Homeschoolers are among the 5 million (5,224,805 at the time of publication) happy FutureLearn users. Why do homeschoolers recommend FutureLearn? First, it costs nothing to join, and every FutureLearn course is free. Although the courses are from top universities, many classes are appropriate for a wide range of students, as young as 13 and up. Unlike many open course websites that primarily offer STEM related classes, FutureLearn also offers subjects such as literature, politics, history, and nature/environmental. Their course content is accessible from desktop, laptops, tablet, and smart phones. FutureLearn is based in the UK, but their courses reach a global audience.
Udacity is branded as the online university by Silicon Valley. Udacity was founded by Sebastian Thrun, inventor of Google’s autonomous car and founder of Google X. Some of the internet’s largest websites, like Facebook and Google, have collaborated with Udacity. Their flagship Nanodegree programs are credentials that are built with -- and recognized by -- industry leaders including Google, Facebook, AT&T, IBM Watson and Mercedes, etc. to teach the needed skills to get a job in the fastest growing areas of technology such as self driving car, virtual reality, web/mobile development, artificial intelligence and data science. Homeschool high schoolers pursuing work in a technical field or enrolling in higher education were the dominant voice of support in Udacity’s nomination. While the courses are designed for higher education, many homeschool students are operating at advanced levels during their high school years.The majority of our home educators who used Udacity enrolled their students in one of the mathematics courses.
Hippo Campus curates and displays video content from various sources, such as the NROC Project, MSJC, Dallas Learning Solutions, and Phoenix College, and then categorizes it into presentations, examples, and test preparation. Homeschools told us they use HippoCampus.org because it’s helpful to have a site that has done the work of compiling and sorting all these sources. It’s a real time-saver.
Open Education Consortium
Homeschools and private educators use and recommend the Open Education Consortium (OEC) as a top educational website for 2017. Homeschools readily identify with the OEC’s mission of freeing education from the constraints of an institution. Homeschools have used the OEC as a supplement for both stuents and parent-educators. The OEC’s courses are free and educators can search for courses with their powerful search engineto get started.
The Khan Academy
The Khan Academy is the only website to be listed in two different Top 10 categories. To say that most homeschoolers use this resource would be an absolute understatement. What started as online tutoring through Yahoo Doodle Images, quickly grew into a YouTube channel and has now grown into one of the largest free education platforms on the internet. The Khan Academy’s website includes the display of all video lectures, supplementary practice exercises, dashboard analytics, and teacher tools. Khan is best known for teaching Math by grade, but now offers classes in many different subjects. Most subjects have a "class" tab as well as an "explore" tab.
The Open Education Database (OEDb) has been highly recommended by our educators as an essential tool for researching and discovering open courses. Use their powerful search engine to crawl the listings of numerous open course websites.
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