How is Coursera different from other sites offering free college courses on the Internet? The prestige of its partners may very well be unmatched. The list of universities offering courses through Coursera is a who's who of elite institutions: Princeton, Stanford, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Johns Hopkins and the University of California, Berkeley, among others.
Our voters were clearly impressed, calling Coursera 'difficult to beat' and praising its 'great courses' and 'great interface.' One voter noted that Coursera is 'breaking the mold of traditional education' while another said, more simply, that Coursera is 'very cool.'
Coursera is clear about its intentions. It's not a school. Courses are generally not available for credit. Instead, it's a place for anyone to access top notch classes taught by leading thinkers regardless of their location, schedule or financial constraints. Whether you're 18 or 80, Coursera enables you to take a Stanford course in cryptography, a Princeton computer architecture course or a Duke astronomy course for free from anywhere in the world.
Finalist: Crash Course
YouTube is already full of laughing babies, adorable kittens and skateboarding pratfalls. Perhaps it's time for education. That's where Crash Course comes in. Two brothers, Hank and John Green, produce videos for the site on biology and world history. They use humor, animation and rigorous fact-checking to ensure that their lessons are both fun and educational. One of our voters commended Crash Course for taking full advantage of YouTube's strengths, despite its paucity of cute cats.
Udacity doesn't just offer challenging courses in subjects like artificial intelligence, differential equations and software debugging. As one voter put it, 'it really forces you to think and won't allow you to go forward without getting everything clear.' That's what happens when a team of roboticists design an open education website; it's built with a rigorous and logical pedagogy that encourages serious learning. And Udacity backs up its education by offering numerous certification options. They'll even send your resume to their partner companies after you complete their courses!