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There's no better time than the start of a new year to take up something new. Whether you're wanting to deepen your understanding of the way the world works, make yourself more indispensable at work by brushing up on the skills you need in your profession, learn how to do something completely new, or indulge your passion, now is the time to find a Mass Open Online Course to help you do just that. We've collated a number of the best online institutions and services that offer free educational materials and courses for your ease of reference. Happy learning!

Learn through a renowned institution

Ivy League and other world-renowned universities have caught onto the MOOC trend and are now offering learning content to ordinary people around the world for free. Oxford University in the UK, for example, has started the OpenSpires project, which provides free educational material to anyone wishing to use it, 'for the benefit of humanity globally'. They provide the material through podcasts, and you can choose from courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences ('including the popular Quantum Physics lecture') faculties. Check out all their podcasts here.

Harvard is another university with an extensive offering of free online courses, from Law to Poetry to Introduction to Computer Sciences, as you will see in their full offering.

Learn about anything under the sun

Coursera 

One of the top sites for e-learning is Coursera. It has partnered with universities and you can watch lectures, do tests and interactive exercises at your own pace. Quizzes and projects add to the interactive aspect and subjects range from medicine and biology to maths, business, IT and the humanities. With its peer assessment system and immediate feedback on troublesome questions or topics, learners are aided to master their chosen subjects. Coursera also offers certificates. 

Academic Earth 

This site prides itself on its curated list of courses. Academic Earth offers courses for beginners and experts from a vast range of academic institutions and also covers a broad range of subject matters. It's been offering a collection of free online college courses from the world’s top universities since 2009, so you might say it's something of a trend-setter.

Udemy 

While Udemy combines free and paid content, its main drawcard is its customisable courses. Top educators and institutions are part of this site and the course content is top notch.

EdX  

EdX offers courses that range from communications to engineering to literature. In addition, they provide an official credential and certificate. Founded by Harvard University (which, as mentioned above, has its own incredible offering of online courses), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Berkeley, these prestigious institutions also create and supply the courses' contents.

Learn about IT and Tech

Udacity 

With a strong focus on IT and tech-related courses, Udacity offers nanodegrees and originated at prestigious US university, Stanford. Their mission is 'to bring accessible, affordable, engaging and highly effective higher education to the world'.

MIT OCW  

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseWare site offers material from over 2 000 courses. Videos, lecture notes and assignments from this top technology institute are available around the globe.

Learn at your own pace

Khan Academy  

'You only need to know one thing: you can learn anything'. This institution focusses on personalised learning, where students can work at their own pace with the help of interactive challenges, videos and assessments. Along with a vast range of maths, science, IT, economics and humanities courses, they have also partnered with places such as NASA, MIT and The Museum of Modern Art. Expect fascinating and cutting edge art and tech content.

Learn through play

Memrise 

With a focus on learning through play, Memrise offers a desktop and an app version. The use of games in study make it a fun space for integrated study. While they offer a range of subjects, it's especially good for learning languages.

For more ideas and courses, click here for a comprehensive article by study.com on online courses». Or visit Open Culture Online Courses for its listings of courses here ». Lifehacker has a great summary of the latest courses to start off now around the world: check it out here »

Check your data balance to make sure you've got enough to keep you going while you learn - you can use the My Vodacom App or log into My Vodacom online » 

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