Out of the classroom and into the ‘net with online courses

LeBron James Asks: What muscles do we use when shooting a basket?

If you’re struggling with a course or want to make up a credit without summer school, virtual high schools or free online courses from some of the top universities might be just what you need.

Stephen Baker has been promoting online education for almost as long as the Internet’s existed. He started offering high school courses online in 1995. Since then his Virtual High School (VHS) has been accredited by Ontario’s Ministry of Education to award credits towards a high school diploma in 68 courses for grades 9-12. Each course costs between $400 and $500.

According to an article in the Financial Post, Baker’s virtual school will teach around 4,600 students in 2012 alone. Students taking courses at VHS work at their own pace. There’s no final exam period or deadlines, as you complete the required work on your own schedule.

Students are drawn to VHS for a variety of reasons. If you’re not challenged enough at your school, you can add to your course load, or you can avoid summer school by making up a class online.

Accredited Ontario high school courses are also available from Canada eSchool where most full credits or make-up courses are designed to take three months to complete. But depending on your learning pace you can finish sooner or, if you fall a bit behind, you can request an extension. eSchool courses tuition fees start at $399.

If curiosity rather than course credits is your motivation to learn, the Khan Academy just might be perfect for you.  This free website was founded on the belief that everyone should have access to the best education possible. Khan’s 3,300 instructional videos on subjects from K-12 math to art history have been taken by 186 million people and counting! You can even learn about what muscles are used when shooting free throws from NBA superstar LeBron James.

Coursera is another online learning resource that believes world-class education should be accessible for free worldwide. Its claim to fame is that Coursera was founded by professors from some of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., like Stanford. Since launching in April of this year, course materials from more 16 well-regarded universities, including the University of Toronto, have been added to its roster.

Coursera does offer credits for its courses for a fee, but if you’re just interested in learning a new subject or finding out what a university-level course is like, you can take all the courses you want for free!

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