Today, names like Coursera, edX, and Udacity are well known. But have you heard about Complexity Explorer, Kadenze, or SWAYAM? Maybe not.

If you want to widen your options to learn, look at these lesser known international Massive Open Online Course providers who host free online courses.

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    10 Lesser-Known International Free Online Courses image - Feature-Image-1
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    The benefit is that you can keep learning new subjects in your pajamas from anywhere in the world and at any age. You can even complete an entire college level course online.

    Acumen Academy

    • Courses: 30
    • Curriculum: Social change
    • Cost: Free and Paid
    • Certification: Yes (A certificate of completion)
    Acumen Academy image - Acumen-Academy

    Acumen Academy offers free and paid courses for learners who want to make a social impact. Social entrepreneurs, social workers, and conservationists are a perfect fit for the courses on the MOOC platform. That’s not to say others shouldn’t. There are general courses on grit, leadership, and creativity too.

    You can enroll in three types of courses: Team courses, Master classes, and Accelerators. Team courses are free, but you must take it with your team. Master classes are paid and self-paced while smaller groups take part in Accelerators.

    Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

    • Courses: 65+
    • Curriculum: General
    • Cost: Free and Paid
    • Certification: None for free courses
    Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative image - Carnegie-Mellon

    The Carnegie Mellon name is renowned for its philanthropy. While the private university is world famous, the Open Learning Initiative might be less widely known. The course catalog covers ten college level disciplines ranging from arts to technology and design.

    Free courses are self-paced while the paid Academic course is led by an instructor and brings other tools like an LMS (Learning Management System) and extra course materials.


    • Courses: 100+
    • Curriculum: General
    • Cost: Free
    • Certification: Yes
    How Saylor Academy Can Help You

    Saylor is a not for profit educational initiative that offers free and open online courses to learners worldwide. All courses are college level, self-paced, and free.

    While the website won’t win many awards, it’s functional and all for the price of free. Start with the short Learning at Saylor Academy course to get more familiar.

    Poynter News University

    • Courses: 100+
    • Curriculum: Journalism and media training
    • Cost: Free and Paid
    • Certification: Yes, on payment
    Poynter News University image - Poynter

    Poynter is synonymous with journalism. The non-profit organization wants to promote honest information and the News University is part of that. It offers interactive journalism courses and webinars online for students and journalists anywhere in the world.

    If you want a smaller bite, then sign up for their weekly training newsletter.

    • Courses: 50+
    • Curriculum: Education
    • Cost: Free and Paid
    • Certification: From individual instructors or sponsoring institutions image - Canvas

    Canvas is a lot like Udacity and Coursera. It does not host many of the big course providers, but there are smaller institutes and their courses on their platform. You will find many niche professional development courses for K-12 and higher-ed teachers here.

    For instance, a course that helps to find and help at-risk students.

    Categories include Blended Learning, Education Reform, and languages like Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese.

    World Science U Courses

    • Courses: 5+
    • Curriculum: Science
    • Cost: Free
    • Certification: Yes
    Welcome to World Science U!

    This site is the educational face of the World Science Festival. The unique feature is that Nobel laureates and esteemed science educators will be your guides on the other side of the screen.

    The lineup is a who’s who of experimental physicists, cosmologists, geneticists, neuroscientists, astronomers, and more.

    The courses are short and modular with demonstrations, exercises, and discussions.


    • Courses: 584+
    • Curriculum: General
    • Cost: Free and Paid
    • Certification: Yes
    Miriadax image - Miriadax

    Spanish follows English as a popular language. Twenty countries speak Spanish. That’s why it makes sense to not ignore this regional MOOC that hosts 100+ university partners from all Spanish speaking countries.


    • Courses: 80+
    • Curriculum: Information technology
    • Cost: Free
    • Certification: Yes
    openHPI image - openHPI

    openHPI is the MOOC platform of the German Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam. The courses cover subjects in information technology like cybersecurity, design thinking, machine learning, digital transformation, programming etc.

    Learn via videos, interactive self-tests, tutorials, practical exercises and homework. The courses are completely free, and you can take them in German and English.

    You can join on the enrollment dates and learn the topics at your own pace. Take the final exam which has multiple-choice tests, practical programming exercises, and peer assessments. Complete at least 50 percent of the course and you’ll get a Confirmation of Participation certificate.

    Peer to Peer University

    • Courses: 100+
    • Curriculum: General
    • Cost: Free
    • Certification: No
    Peer to Peer University image - P2PU

    As the name says Peer2Peer University taps into social learning for spreading open education without barriers. Unlike other open courses, anyone cancreate and teach an online course on the platform.

    There are a few “schools” on the platform that focus on one area of expertise. Try the School of Webcraft (with Mozilla), School of Open (with Creative Commons), Mechanical MOOC (with MIT).

    P2PU is also tapping into offline learning with study groups and learning circles by collaborating with public libraries. For instance, it started the first project with The Chicago Public Library. P2PU charges no tuition and offers no certificates.

    European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA)

    • Courses: 140+
    • Curriculum: General
    • Cost: Free
    • Certification: No
    European Multiple MOOC Aggregator (EMMA) image - EMMA

    The EMMA is a MOOC aggregator for all open courses provided by European universities. Supported by the European Union, it hosts free and open courses in different European languages. Subject areas include Business, Digital Culture, Environment, Food, Humanities, European Law, Science, Health, and Technology.

    Some courses are self-paced while others have deadlines for completion. EMMA does not directly give a certificate of completion, but individual course providers might.

    More International Courses And MOOC Providers To Look At

    1. Kadenze
    2. ThinkCERCA
    3. Complexity Explorer
    4. CNMOOC
    5. Open Education by Blackboard
    6. Friday Institute
    7. SWAYAM

    Lifelong Learning Has No Barriers

    This is a small list. There are many more online course providers and getting your college education remotely is no longer an exception. You can take a semester level course or master smaller modules to gauge your interest in a subject.

    What matters most is that you pick the right course provider and stick through it with discipline.

    Worried that you don’t know your way around a computer? You don’t have to be as they are user-friendly and you just need to get started on any online course to see how easy it is.