Coursera is an online community offering free university courses from some very well regarded universities. You can choose from thousands of courses. You have the option to pay in the neighbourhood of $79 to get a certificate for the completion of a group of courses. I have taken courses in finance, competitive strategy, sports management and digital analytics. There are courses in philosophy, computer programming, sciences, project management, music, and almost anything you can name.
The courses are self-paced and run over a period of 4 or 6 weeks, all done via computer with videos and discussion forums.
The question though is how much can they help your career. The best I can tell is that I might be able to put them on my resume to show that I have done some learning on my own, but I highly doubt they are regarded with the same level of respect as a traditional degree. I think it’s biggest draw at the moment is to give the opportunity to learn new skills for free.
Very big name schools like University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Duke, Columbia, University of Toronto, Princeton, Yale, University of Edinburgh, University of New South Wales and others from Chile, Brazil, Denmark, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, and all over the world are participating.
The courses are delivered in a number of modules. The professors record lectures by video, provide a reading list (usually with links to read the texts for free), and students complete online quizzes. Some courses have written assignments which are graded by fellow students. The bar isn’t a high one in order to complete a course, but the opportunity for learning is very good. It’s too bad that it won’t give you any formal credentials or prerequisites for university programs, but it shows how powerful online learning can be. And the bonus is that it can all be done for free.