The Hasso Plattner Institute has been offering free online courses since the beginning of November 2012. Anyone can enroll, regardless of their age and educational background. And you don’t have to be a budding IT professional either; people who simply enjoy messing around on computers in their spare time are just as welcome. Students can sign up at anytime at Open HPI, read up on past courses in the archive, and find out about new courses.
Universities in the United States were the first to offer free online learning, and such courses are now proving popular in Germany too. “Up to 92% of our instructional videos, reading material, online tests, and homework are accessed in Germany,” says Professor Christoph Meinel, who leads a team specializing in Internet technologies and systems. Material offered in German is accessed by students from all over Europe, and beyond.
Though most students are men, 30% of the virtual classmates are women, a larger proportion than on comparable courses. A wide range of age groups are represented, too: 30% of students currently enrolled are between 20 and 39 years of age, and 20% are in their forties. Some 16% of those using the learning platform are over 50. Discussions involve every age group; since the course began, over 1,200 comments have been posted on almost 250 topics.
You can even take a final exam online
Since the course started, over 3,000 of those enrolled regularly complete the exercises and join the discussions, and 2,132 have passed the final online exam to receive a certificate from the Hasso Plattner Institute. More courses are in the pipeline. “For instance, we want to provide more introductory courses on IT basics where students learn how complex IT systems are built and how they work, and we want to cover IT security and how to protect your personal data in the digital world,” says Meinel. Courses on the latest developments and innovations, such as Semantic Web, apps, design thinking, multicore, and cloud computing, are to follow.