By Leanne Goodall

Not tried the OU free courses? You could be missing out on some excellent free learning

Have you heard of MOOCs, Future Learn or the Open University taster courses? If not then you might just be missing out on some quality free learning from the comfort of your own home. I used some of The Open University free taster courses to help me decide which modules to go for and give me a sense of what it might be like to study certain subjects. The tasters are snippets from the actual modules and so they are about as realistic as you can get for a taster before committing to the real thing.

The Open University website contains tasters for all kinds of subject areas

I myself tried out History and English based courses, one of which led me to choose my last module and so was very helpful indeed. A couple of years ago, during the summer break, I found myself desperate to study something else. A bit of research soon led me to the free courses with Future Learn and I was amazed at the array of free study material available. Each course was well thought out and focussed on one or two specific areas. Some of the courses allowed a closer study of a particular area but would include elements from more than one discipline. This really interested me as I found free courses which looked at History and English Literature combined. There was some really fascinating stuff in them.

Courses are generally run and put together by universities, including The Open University and so their quality is very good. They are certainly not courses for the sake of taking a course. They are courses for those that want to keep their brain active, try something for the first time or who want to study specific areas in smaller doses. Most courses that I came across lasted about 6-12 weeks which I thought was perfect.

I signed up for the history of Aviation course

As it happened, I didn’t get round to doing one as I had just missed the start dates for the ones I wanted to try. I booked myself in for a course on the History of Aviation which I planned on running alongside my Open University module but in reality I didn’t have time. As the information was still sent on to me, my husband found himself working through it all and really loved it.

Another thing that I think these courses are so good for is retirement or for those who are medically retired at home. Retirement of any sort opens up a whole new window of time to do all of the things you’ve never got round to doing.

The courses only take a few hours a week and can be perfect for keeping the brain active as well as learning some really great and interesting new things.

So all in all, yes these courses can be well worthwhile. You do have to consider if you actually have time to do them. If you don’t then you can probably take them or leave them but for anyone with a little time, a bit of interest and a desire to have a go then free study courses are a fantastic way forward.

Leanne is halfway through a BA (Hons) in History with the OU and enjoys writing as a freelancer as well as on her personal blog, Growing my Knowing, where she catalogues her experiences as a student. You can catch up on all of Leanne’s excellent contributions for STOU here.

Have you taken a free course or taster module with the OU? How did you find it and would you recommend them to others? Please LIKE/TWEET/SHARE or leave a comment below. This social currency helps us to grow and improve the value we are able to provide for OU students.

The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.

The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.