6 minute read  written by  . Published on December 14, 2015

This article is just one in our 2015 MOOC Roundup Series. Find the whole series of articles here, and discover everything MOOCs in 2015 — from the most popular classes, to overviews on developments in MOOC platforms, to looking at the MOOC-future.


These lists are quite common for books, movies, and so on, but no one has had the data to do the same for online courses. Until now. 

There has been no slowdown of the number of MOOCs that are being produced, and thanks to the widespread adoption of “self-paced” courses, there are now thousands of quality MOOCs that you can take online. 2200 courses were offered for the first time in 2015. Using thousands of reviews written by our users, Class Central was able to rank these courses (by the bayesian average of their ratings) and have created a list of the best free online courses for 2015.  These lists are quite common for books, movies, and so on, but no one has had the data to do the same for online courses. Until now.

This list is a great example of the power of the internet, and of how universities around the world are able to compete on an equal footing through creating MOOCs. Three out of ten courses, including the best course of 2015, are from non-US universities.The list contains courses from Three universities that are part of the US News’ top 25 global universities rankings. The list contains a couple of surprises in the form of courses from small and independent providers like The Great Poems Series: Unbinding Prometheus, taught by Eric Alan Weinstein, and Fractals and Scaling from the Santa Fe Institute.

A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment is Class Central’s best course of 2015 

Professor Raj Raghunathan’s (aka “Dr. Happy Smarts”) course A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment, made in conjunction with The Indian School of Business (ISB), is Class Central’s best course of 2015. His course is highly applied in nature, where he encourages participants to reflect upon their life and their goals. Humanities courses can be very much in demand particularly those that focus on direct personal application tend to do most well.

This is the final thread that ties together these technical and humanities courses that made this Top 10 list, and were rated extraordinarily highly via reviews: they are geared towards helping individuals achieve their own personal goals, they are not just about learning for its own sake. And when we think about MOOCs, and the fact that people are taking them in their free time, and going to the trouble of finding them and participating in them of their own volition–this makes perfect sense.

In many conversations around MOOCs we have perspectives rooted in opinions or perhaps anecdotes with one particular experience…but this should be rooted in looking at data on what people actually want in a MOOC and how they feel about their experiences with them.

1A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment
Indian School of Business via Coursera
What are the determinants of a happy and fulfilling life? This is surely one of life’s biggest questions, and a question that has interested many of our ancestors. This course, based on the award-winning class offered both at the Indian School of Business and at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, developed by Prof. Raj Raghunathan (aka “Dr. Happy-smarts”) draws content from a variety of fields, including psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral decision theory to offer a tested and practical recipe for leading a life of happiness and fulfillment.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (124 ratings)

A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment

2Introduction to Programming with MATLAB
Vanderbilt University via Coursera
This course teaches computer programming to those with little to no previous experience. It uses the programming system and language called MATLAB to do so because it is easy to learn, versatile and very useful for engineers and other professionals.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (82 ratings)

3The Great Poems Series: Unbinding Prometheus
via OpenLearning
The Unbinding Prometheus MOOC investigates both what Shelley’s words have meant over time, and what his words might mean for us today. NO previous background in literature is required–simply the patience and persistence to read poetry, discover beauty and find meaning in a community of learners.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (17 ratings)

4Marketing in a Digital World
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign via Coursera
Review the foundations of marketing and discuss how they are being shifted by new digital tools.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (107 ratings)

5Fractals and Scaling
Santa Fe Institute via Complexity Explorer
This course is intended for anyone who is interested in an overview of how ideas from fractals and scaling are used to study complex systems. The course will make use of basic algebra, but potentially difficult topics will be reviewed, and help is available in the course discussion form.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (13 ratings)

6What is a Mind?
University of Cape Town via FutureLearn
Explore the most pertinent scientific and philosophical concepts for understanding our own minds. This free online course will bring together learners and practitioners interested in how the mind works. It aims to build bridges between traditionally antagonistic approaches to understanding the mind.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (17 ratings)

7Algorithms for DNA Sequencing
Johns Hopkins University via Coursera
Learn computational methods — algorithms and data structures — for analyzing DNA sequencing data.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (13 ratings)

8. Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance
Monash University via FutureLearn
Learn mindfulness techniques to reduce stress and improve your wellbeing. This practical six-week course explores the science, practice and philosophy of mindfulness. You will learn how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your life to reduce stress, improve mental health, and enhance your personal and professional life.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (14 ratings)

9Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python)
University of Michigan via Coursera
This course aims to teach everyone the basics of programming computers using Python. It cover the basics of how one constructs a program from a series of simple instructions in Python. The course has no pre-requisites and avoids all but the simplest mathematics. Anyone with moderate computer experience should be able to master the materials in this course.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (10 ratings)

10CS100.1x: Introduction to Big Data with Apache Spark
University of California, Berkeley via edX
Learn how to apply data science techniques using parallel programming in Apache Spark. This course will attempt to articulate the expected output of Data Scientists and then teach students how to use PySpark (part of Apache Spark) to deliver against these expectations. The course assignments include Log Mining, Textual Entity Recognition, Collaborative Filtering exercises that teach students how to manipulate data sets using parallel processing with PySpark.
Go To Class | ★★★★★ (31 ratings)

This article is just one in our 2015 MOOC Roundup Series. Find the whole series of articles here, and discover everything MOOCs in 2015 — from the most popular classes, to overviews on developments in MOOC platforms, to looking at the MOOC-future.

  • Puneeth Shivalingaiah

    🙂 🙂 🙂