Years ago if you wanted to know how to program a computer or do just about anything on one you needed to obtain an advanced degree in math, electronics, engineering and what have you. That ran you into tens of thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands by today’s standards).
In some aspects that is still very true today especially if you want to design the actual chips, circuit boards or develop a new computer language. But a lot has changed over the years where you can obtain computer education for little to no cost.
As an example, you want to learn a programming language, say JAVA. JAVA seems to be the language of preference in most computer science classes. You could attend a formal class at a college to learn the basics of JAVA but that can cost you from $1,000 to $3,000 or more. OK, if you are going for a degree you will have no choice but go that route.
But let’s say you are not degree bound or just want to or need to learn JAVA or are in a degree program and need extra help. There are plenty of free tutorials on the internet that do a great job of teaching JAVA. Even Oracle, the owner of JAVA (formally Sun Computers owned it until it was bought by Oracle) has free tutorials on JAVA. You can borrow books from your library as well. Plus on YouTube you can find tutorials on JAVA as well with other sites.
As an example The New Boston, http://www.thenewboston.org, has loads of free tutorials on various subjects including JAVA. With some work on your part you will learn the language for free.
JAVA is not the only computer language you can learn for free. COBOL, ASSEMBLER, FORTRAN, C+, and many other languages can be learned at little to no cost that way as well.
Let’s look at CISCO. Like JAVA there are plenty of sources on the internet where you can get free tutorials. To practice CISCO you could go to eBay and buy some used routers and switches which can cost from a few hundred to over a thousand or with a little digging you can get CISCO’s PacketTracer which simulates the hardware only it is free. Since it is a computer simulator and draws no power, your wallet will love the fact there is no increase in your electric bill nor is there any additional hardware to buy.
In some areas you will need to buy the software to use to learn on but that is the fraction of the cost for a college degree. A lot of times you can get software to learn on fairly inexpensively on eBay. Granted a lot of it is not the latest but there is nothing wrong with it to learn on while saving money.
As an example you want to learn Visual Basic Dot Net, then you need Visual Studio to learn on. I have seen Visual Studio for sale on PC Mall for over $4,000. But on eBay and I’ve seen it for under $100.
By the way, if programming is what you seek then you will find that most compilers are available for free.
Computer programming is not the only thing you can learn this way. CISCO, HTML, CSS, Photoshop, FileMaker Pro, and many other subjects
like Finance Theory, Psychology, Calculus, Economics, Astronomy and much more all can be learned for free. You just need to search them out.
Some universities are offering free college level courses as well on the internet known as “MOOCs” or Massive Open Online Courses. M.I.T. and
Berkley are just two several of the universities doing this. You can get some great education again for free. But not every course the university gives is offered for free and sometimes the course is pretty sketchy, that is they simply did not do good job preparing it and leave you hanging. The courses might be a few years dated as to what the current curriculum is, but the knowledge is still sound.
For the most part you will not get any credit for taking those courses plus you might not be able to interact with the professors. Some colleges like MIT will offer you a certificate of completion for a nominal fee. Some of colleges have taken it a step further and will give you college credit for a fee but you need to meet other requirements first. In any case you can take college level courses for free.
What universities you ask? M.I.T., Berkley, Stanford, Duke, Harvard (yes that Harvard), UCLA, Yale for starters.
Let me get you started with some links to some free education:
800 Free Online Courses From Top Universities -http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses
MOOCs: Top 10 Sites For Free Education With Elite Universities: http://bit.ly/KtnCtd
MOOC List – https://www.mooc-list.com/
MIT Open Courseware – http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Learning the Java Language by Oracle – http://docs.oracle.com/javase/tutorial/java/TOC.html
The New Boston – Bucky Roberts had produced numerous computer related courses plus a few others as well. He does a great job. Check him out – http://thenewboston.org
Alison – they have several courses ranging from computers to Risk Management to Math and much more – https://alison.com/
COBOL programming – http://www.csis.ul.ie/cobol/course/Default.htm
Harvard Online courses – these are the free ones, they do have online courses for credit but they will charge you for those – http://online-learning.harvard.edu/courses?sort_by=date_added&cost=free
University of California Berkeley on iTunes has some free courses
University of Irvine has a few courses – http://ocw.uci.edu/
UMass Boston has a nice selection – http://ocw.umb.edu/index.html
Carnegie Mellon University also has a nice selection – http://oli.cmu.edu/learn-with-oli/see-our-free-open-courses/
Coursera as a great selection of courses from places like Penn University, Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, Stanford, UC SanDiego, Duke University and more. Some of the courses do incur a fee. It pays to check them out at – https://www.coursera.org/
Purdue University has a free on-line writing lab – http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
Like Coursera, edX has courses from various universities – http://www.edx.org
Udacity – Free Interactive College Classes – http://www.udacity.com/
Khanacademy has numerous courses – https://www.khanacademy.org/
PYTHON – https://docs.python.org/2/tutorial/
There is another resource that I found while not free but is very cost effective, Lynda.com. Here are some great tutorials available at a very low price. All you need to do is sign up for monthly access and you can access all of the tutorials that they have for the one price. Some public libraries may grant you free access to that site just by being a patron so you can take an unlimited amount of courses from Lynda.com for free. So it pays to check with your local library.
So with a little effort on your part you can find some great sources for free or nearly free education in computers well as many other subjects.