Coronavirus Pandemic

Top 10 online courses to try at home

Expand your knowledge of modern art, food and even bioprinting with online courses as you stay home during this period

With most people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, it is a good time to pick a course and learn something new.
With most people staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, it is a good time to pick a course and learn something new. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

If delving into modern art is something you have always wanted to do, now may be the perfect time.

A wide range of free and paid online courses offered by institutions here and overseas is available.

Major online course platforms FutureLearn, edX and Coursera - three of the biggest platforms in the global e-learning field - tell The Straits Times they have seen increased traffic to their sites from users around the world as more countries go into lockdown.

"The edX team has put together a resource that shares information around our response to Covid-19 and what we hope can be helpful tools for learners and educators as they adjust to this new normal," says a spokesman.

A FutureLearn spokesman says the platform has seen a 50 per cent increase in week-on-week enrolment, especially for courses such as London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Covid-19 course.

FutureLearn chief executive officer Simon Nelson says courses related to the coronavirus have been made free in order to extend the reach of vital information to as many people as possible.

Here is a round-up of 10 free courses from Coursera, FutureLearn and edX to explore while staying home.

1. Modern Arts & Ideas

Where: Coursera

What: Take this course so you can talk about Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse like an expert.

Offered by the Museum of Modern Art (Moma) in San Francisco, this introductory course explores weekly themes such as art and identity or art and society.

Over the five-week course, learners will watch a video that connects works of art from Moma to the theme discussed for the given week.

The course began yesterday, but you can take it at your own pace. It takes about 12 hours to complete.

Info: Go to

  • Try these online course providers

  • FutureLearn

    FutureLearn, a private company jointly owned by Britain's The Open University and Australian employment marketplace The Seek Group, offers courses from leading universities and cultural institutions.

    Launched in 2013, the social learning platform currently has more than 11 million learners and over 25 per cent of these learners are from Asia.

  • edX

    Offering free courses for standard international tests such as Toefl and IELTS, edX is used by 141,000 learners from Singapore.

    Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, the platform partners several tertiary institutions around the globe including National University of Singapore.

  • Coursera

    Offering both free and paid courses, users can explore some of Coursera's unique features including the MasterTrack certificates, which allow learners to explore portions of master's programmes that have been split into online modules. Those accepted into a master's programme may also use the MasterTrack coursework to count towards their degree.

2. Understanding Fashion: From Business To Culture

Where: FutureLearn

What: Learn from the movers and shakers of the fashion world.

In this course taught by Professor Benjamin Simmenauer from higher education institution Institut Francais de la Mode, you can hear from the likes of Chanel fashion president Bruno Pavlovsky and Hermes executive vice-president (manufacturing division and equity investments) Guillaume De Seynes.

The four-week course explores fashion as both a creative industry and a cultural phenomenon.

Info: Go to

3. Food For Thought: The Relationship Between Food, Gut, And Brain

Where: FutureLearn

What: Now that you have more time at home and more time to cook your own meals, it may be good to learn about the link between healthy eating and mental well-being.

Offered by the University of Turin and Europe's leading food innovation initiative EIT Food, the course includes insights into topics such as the relationship between reproductive health and food and the connection between the brain, gut and microbiome - bacteria that inhabit the gut.

This five-week course takes 20 hours to complete.

Info: Go to

4. Our Earth's Future

Where: Coursera

What: Arm yourself with the knowledge to identify misconceptions and misinformation about climate change and contribute to the conversation about the subject.

The five-week course offered by the American Museum of Natural History delves into evidence behind human-induced climate change. It takes about nine hours to complete.

Info: Go to

5. Collaborative Working In A Remote Team

Where: FutureLearn

What: With more people working from home now, this course is especially relevant.

Take it to find out about the different technologies for collaboration and the project management tools that can help to ease the difficulties of working remotely.

You can also develop practical planning skills and learn to produce an action plan for successful remote working.

The self-paced course, developed by the University of Leeds and taught by artist, producer and educator Sophie Pendrell, takes four hours to complete.

Info: Go to

6. Demystifying Mindfulness

Where: FutureLearn

What: In these stressful times, interest in meditation, mindfulness and contemplation has grown. These practices are increasingly being seen as scientifically and psychologically valid forms of therapy.

What is mindfulness? And how exactly does it work? You can learn more about it from Professor of Philosophy Chris Goto-Jones at the University of Victoria, a trained mindfulness therapist.

This six-week course, which takes 36 hours to complete and is self-paced, was developed by Leiden University.

Info: Go to

7. Bioprinting: 3D Printing Body Parts

Where: FutureLearn

What: You may have seen low-cost 3D printers that can create replicas and plastic toys, but did you know 3D printing is also revolutionising the healthcare industry?

Professor Gordon Wallace, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at the University of Wollongong, introduces learners to bioprinting techniques and commonly used biomaterials.

You can take this free four-week course in 12 hours at your own pace.

Info: Go to

8. Lessons From Ebola: Preventing The Next Pandemic

Where: edX

What: The four-week course offered by Harvard University looks into the context and management of the 2014 ebola outbreak in West Africa.

It asks vital questions such as how to prevent similar outbreaks in the future and how to reduce the burden on countries' healthcare systems. The course takes about 20 hours to complete.

Info: Go to

9. Teaching Critical Thinking Through Art With The National Gallery Of Art

Where: edX

What: Educators looking to up their game during this period of home-based learning can get inspiration from this course.

Based on a programme for teachers at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, it takes about 60 hours to complete.

Offered by the Smithsonian Institution, the five-unit course is designed for teachers to develop a culture of critical thinking and collaboration in their classrooms.

Info: Go to

10. Introduction To Hospitality And Tourism Industry

Where: edX

What: Employees in the tourism and hospitality sector, which is reeling from the travel restrictions put in across the globe to curb the spread of the coronavirus, can take the chance to beef up their knowledge.

Topics include breaking down jargon used in the hospitality business, identifying salary scales in the sector and discussing opportunities in related sectors such as food and beverage services and travel.

Offered by the University of Maryland, the six-week course also directs students towards useful materials for future study in related areas such as event management.

The course takes about 12 hours to complete.

Info: Go to

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2020, with the headline Top 10 online courses to try at home . Subscribe