Online Courses For Teenagers


Teenager with Computer

By Pat Bowden, published October 24, 2017.

Do you know a teenager? Someone between the age of thirteen and nineteen? Is that teenager interested in online study or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)?

MOOCs, Yes or No?

There’s a good chance the answer will be “No!” so let’s turn the question around. Does your teenager like using computers or mobile devices? Does your teenager hope to one day secure a decent job, or have ambitions for a lucrative career? Is your teenager thinking of going on to further education after high school?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes!” then MOOCs might be able to help. The trick is to choose the right MOOC to stay engaged. Have a reason to complete the MOOC: an interesting subject, a dynamic presentation, or a sense of achievement.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a big advantage of MOOCs is their flexibility. If a MOOC isn’t interesting enough, un-enroll and try something else. Too hard? Look for an easier course. If the pace is too slow, increase the playback speed or look for a more advanced course. You can do them at home on the computer or laptop, or while out and about with mobile apps. Waiting for friends or to be picked up from sports training? Watch a video or two.

What MOOCs could be useful for young people?

Show this list to any teenagers in your life.

  • Learning How to Learn: a popular and useful course that is crammed with useful information, from how the brain learns to overcoming bad habits such as procrastination. A must for everyone, young or older, who wants to learn more efficiently.
  • An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python: currently at position number one on Class Central’s list of Top 50 Free Online Courses of All Time. Young people interested in computers and gaming would really benefit from learning to program. With competent programmers in high demand, learning programming skills will boost the chances of getting a job in the future. Another popular programming course is Programming for Everybody (Getting Started With Python).
  • Into music? Another popular programming course is Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists. Learn how to create audio files, sound effects and bring programming skills into a live performance.
  • Mindshift: although this MOOC is aimed more towards adults wanting to change their career path, it is helpful for anyone wanting to explore a different field, but feeling nervous about the prospect. I have a small role in this MOOC. You may have done badly in mathematics or computer science, but course creator Barbara Oakley explains how she changed her brain from being hopeless at math and science at school to eventually become a professor of engineering. It’s a fascinating and inspiring story, presented so that anyone can try it.
  • Tsinghua Chinese: Start Talking with 1.3 Billion People: If language is your thing, or you are looking for a career in hospitality or tourism, Chinese could be a useful language for you to know.
  • A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment: a fun course for everyone! Learn about the Seven Deadly Happiness Sins and the Seven Habits of the Highly Happy. Apply them to your life, laugh at the silly jokes and enjoy this course which currently sits at number nine in Class Central’s Top 50 list.
  • Khan Academy has easy-to-understand videos on a wide range of subjects and knowledge levels, from kindergarten to college. While not strictly MOOCs, you can earn points and badges for watching the videos and taking tests. A great resource for people struggling with particular subjects or wanting to learn something different. I will be discussing Khan Academy more fully in a future post.

More Relevant Information

MOOCs can be a low-pressure way to find out if you are interested in a subject before committing to a university course. Be aware, though, that if a particular MOOC is not engaging, another in the same field might speak to you. Just like in school, you will find that you connect better with some instructors than others.

Want to set up your own business in the future? There are many MOOCs for business and entrepreneurship.

Sometimes online courses can give you a head start on further studies. Even if you can’t count the MOOC qualification as credit towards your formal course, being familiar with the material now could help you master it more easily at university.

Most online course providers have a minimum age of thirteen to sign up. Some parents enrol and do courses alongside their children.

Some fields, such as medicine, are best learned in face-to-face courses with practical components, but there are MOOCs on physiology, exercise, food, nutrition, aged care and others, that can build up your knowledge.

A Final Thought

Even if you don’t do any of the above courses, sometime, sooner or later, you will want to apply for a job. Learn how to increase your chances of a job and strengthen your resume with MOOCs