Thursday, May 10, 2012


Straits Times May 4

Now anyone can study. Thanks to free online education provided by some of the world's top universities.

In my blog post of October 6, 2011, I wrote that Stanford and Yale would soon be offering free online courses. The latest to join the bandwagon are Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Any paper qualification awarded by these prestigious institutions of higher learning is guaranteed to open doors to brighter career prospects. Share the news with your children.

According to the New York Times report, M.I.T. and Harvard officials said they would use the new online platform not just to build a global community of online learners, but also to research teaching methods and technologies. "Online education is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better," said Lawrence S. Bacow, a member of the Harvard Corporation.

What's the catch? Students who complete the online course will be given a certificate, but no credit. I doubt this will deter people from signing up. Stanford's free online course on Artificial Intelligence attracted more than 200,000 students last year.

For older adults and retirees keen on going back to school again, this news is heaven-sent. With an empty nest at home and time on their hands, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to acquire new knowledge and prevent the brain from getting rusty.

Dr Allan Stewart
If you think that your age might pose an obstacle to learning, look at Dr Allan Stewart a former dental surgeon from Australia. Last Friday he obtained his fourth degree - Master in Clinical Science (Complementary Medicine) at the ripe old age of 97!!! He currently holds the world record for being the oldest graduate.

Gac Filipaj
If you think that you lack the focus and mental fortitude to last the distance, look at Gac Filipaj, 52, an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia. It took him almost 20 years to get his first degree. He had to go for classes at Columbia University in the morning, toil as a custodian (janitor) at the university from 2.30pm to 11.30pm before going home to study. When he first came to the US, he spoke no English and had to attend English proficiency classes for several years. Now he holds a degree in classics - with honors. He plans to do his Masters next.

I am certainly inspired and motivated by Dr Allan Stewart and Gac Filipaj.  I have always wanted to do a Masters in Gerontology. Can anyone recommend a good university where I can do the course? Let me know.

Postscript: For more free online courses, do check out Coursera. Some friends of mine have already signed up. Pity they don't have any free courses for Gerontology. There will likely be more universities offering FOC courses online in the coming days. Thanks to the internet, opportunities for learning are opening up worldwide, and many free too. What excuses do we have not to embrace lifelong learning?


Anonymous said...

How can I sign up?

seniorsaloud said...

Announcements will be made soon. The first course will commence in fall.

choo said...

when? Obliged if u cudvlet me know. Tq

seniorsaloud said...

You could also check out A friend of mine has signed up for one of the courses. There are 116 to choose from. For more info, email