Jul 122013

Free Online High School through Open Courseware

Free Online High School options
There is a new move to make courses available via “open” courseware. Many of these new programs provide “open enrollment”.

Open Courseware provides academic courses free to anyone for use in learning. Usually there are no explicit ‘credits’ earned. Neither is there a high school diploma granted through the use of open courseware. The courses are “just” courses.

However, open courseware is great if you need a free online high school option. Through open courseware, you can find courses about a wide variety of topics. You can pull courses together and create your own free online high school diploma plan. Your child can finish high school by completing a free course for each required high school subject.

Some courseware is at the university study level. I have a separate section for college level courses below. There are also a lot of classes at the high school level. Having classes at different levels can help you create a flexible program for your child’s education. Unlike ordinary high school classes, your child can take classes at different levels of high school or college depending on how advanced his learning is.

Since open courseware is at your child’s own pace, it is ideal for use as homeschooling curriculum. These free online high school course options also work very well for Learning Abled Kids who need to take their time to master a subject.

Free Online High School Course Options for Your Child

If you are looking for an online high school school program that will provide all of the classes, paperwork, and teaching for your child, please visit our Virtual High School listing page.

The programs on this page are not formal schools. They do offer free educational courses, usually taught via video. However, these are not schools so they don’t track your child’s program or have a formal educational plan. You can use these classes to BUILD a complete, free online high school program for your child. However, please be aware that you ARE homeschooling if you’re using these courses so be SURE to comply with the Homeschooling requirements in your state if you build a program for your child using these courses.

KhanAcademy.org Free Online High School Courses

One FABULOUS option for free online high school is the Khan Academy. KhanAcademy.org has free online high school and college level instruction.

Khan’s courses include Math, Science, Social Studies and more. The instruction includes both teaching videos and text-based instruction. Khan is also adding instruction in a variety of other subject areas, so I expect people will eventually be able to use it for their entire homeschool high school program. 😀

Hippocampus Free Online High School Courses

Hippocampus is another wonderful option with hundreds of teaching videos sorted by subject. Hippocampus offers the following subjects:

  • Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, Advanced Math
  • Statistics & Probability
  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science
  • Economics, History, Government, Sociology, Humanities
  • English
  • Religion

C12 Free Online High School Courses

As a third option, C12 is a viable option for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses (https://ck12.org/). The C12 courses are designed for high school students. They are “at your own pace.” The courses cover most of your typical high school subjects with a few extras. The site has a lot of elements (images and videos), so I found it to be somewhat slow loading on our Internet. However, if you have high speed Internet, this may be a great free online high school solution for you.

Free Online High School Math Programs

Purple Math – Primarily focused on providing help with Algebra.

MathTV – High school level math teaching videos. These are great for kids who don’t like to read or who prefer audio-visual instruction.

WolframMathWorld – This is an extensive math resource site. It focuses on high school and college level math instruction. The content is mostly text-based.

Searching for Other Free Online High School Courseware

You can find a variety of courses by searching for them in the “Open Courseware Finder” (http://ocwfinder.com/) or through Edx (https://www.edx.org/).  Through the OCW Finder or EdX, you will find a wide range of available classes offered through institutions such as:

  • Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative
  • Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Tufts University
  • Utah State University

Free Online High School through COLLEGE LEVEL Open Courseware

In using College Level Open Courseware, you simply download the syllabus. Then obtain the text(s) and-or resources required for the course.  When you have the materials, you simply follow the syllabus for your child’s class. Some courses include sample exams and assignments that you will have to grade yourself. This is a small inconvenience in relation to having the pre-made course available for free.

There is also a trend towards “Open Enrollment” at the university level.  Open enrollment permits any student who wishes to study at a higher academic level to enroll in college courses.  It is assumed a student is qualified enough to be taking the class if he wants to enroll. It would not be wise to enroll your child in a university class simply because you can, if he is not prepared for that level of study.

Open enrollment universities are just as rigorous as those requiring an application process. Be aware, your student can fail just as easily at an open university as he could at a closed one. Therefore, if your child wants to attempt college level exams, I’d recommend careful consideration to determine your child’s likelihood of success.

Areas of preparation you’ll need to consider before enrolling your child in an Open University are:

  • Is your student advanced enough academically? One way you can assess this is by having your child take either the ACT or SAT college entrance exam. See if your child scores at a level required for admission by most colleges. Aside from testing, cover the ‘usual’ college prep material until your chlid has a reasonable understanding of the material.
  • Does your child know how to write a college essay or research paper of adequate quality for a passing grade? Many students don’t have the necessary skills to succeed in the heavy writing environment in most universities. If your student lacks writing skills, I’d suggest investing in the Student Writing Intensive (SWI) (at a minimum) from the Institute for Excellence in Writing before enrolling in any college level class.

    The SWI course was designed as a 10-hour weekend seminar with DVDs. Therefore, your child CAN go through this program relatively quickly. Have your child complege the course on a slower schedule for mastery purposes. Given the time, let your child go through the course over a few weeks.

  • Does your child have the desire to work on university level classes?  Whether “open” or not, work at the college level is recorded. It will count towards your child’s overall degree progress and GPA.  If your child is not motivated to work at the level required for a decent grade in a university course, it might be better to wait.  You would not want your child to ‘ruin’ his GPA because he is too young or unmotivated to do well in class.  Thus, it is not advisable to ‘force’ your child into university level classes. If he does not feel prepared or doesn’t want to work that hard, it can be disastrous if you force the issue.

You can find listings of Open Universities at these locations:

GOOD LUCK, and happy learning!