Free Online Courses to Keep You Connected, Enabled, and Secure

Technical Learning For The Rest of Us: UFN Learning Center Free and Paid Online Courses

TTCI free online courses: Picture of a person holding a tablet computer.

UFN Learning Center (UFNLC) is a sub-site of The two work hand-in-hand to help you stay on top of the rapidly changing technological scene. You use technology all the time. These days it is everywhere. Now a days you must use technology to do many basic life tasks. But staying on top of it is not easy. It is a moving target and does it ever keep moving! You need to learn but you must not let learning overwhelm you. You need an approach that offers what you need, when you need it. And that adapts to you rather than the other way around. You need courses that are self-paced. Ones that you start and finish when the timing is right for you. UFNLC free and paid online courses aim to do exactly that.

Included are micro-courses, mini-courses, and full-courses that focus on distinct learning needs in a most practical way. There is also a certification program that gives you official documentation of the learning you have accomplished. All of this is happening in the context of a learning community. The community does not just support your learning process. It also helps you build friendships with other people who have similar problems and interests.

Another unique aspect of UFNLC is that you can become a co-creator of the courses. Your feedback will help course maintainers make course adjustments. Beyond that, UFNLC can designate you as an official co-creator. You will earn prestige and recognition for your contributions. You will help shape courses that will offer so much value to others. This is a feature not found in many free online course offerings!

In addition to becoming a co-creator in some cases you might be able to become an assistant instructor or even a full instructor.


Micro-Courses: Quick, Focused, Practical, Free Online Courses

TTCI Micro-courses: Putty figure seated at a table looking into a microscope.

You probably do not have the time or desire to earn a computer degree. But sometimes it seems like that is what you have to do just to keep things working. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find bite-sized courses that address just what you need? And just when you need it?

These might be micro-courses that you could complete in an hour or less to accomplish just a single task. The thing that you really, really need to get done right away. Or you could spend as much time as you feel like on it. You can leave the training and come back to it according to what fits your schedule.

Many UFNLC micro-courses link directly to how-to articles. This makes them a highly practical extension of the how-to articles. The article describes how to accomplish something and may offer pictures, videos, etc to help you. It might be all you need. But sometimes things work better when presented in a very step-by-step, guided, interactive way. And with the possible option of asking an expert in case you get stuck. It also makes it a lot easier to work part way through the task, set it aside for any reason, and come back to it later with all your progress documented. These linked micro-courses do exactly that for you.

Some micro-courses are independent of any how-to article and might not have a how-to orientation. These might address things such as very specific learning for useful concepts. No bogging down in theory that is not terribly useful. The idea is to keep things practical: Actionable chunks of knowledge that you can really use to build know-how.

Micro-courses are free online courses that normally require a time investment of about 30 minutes to two hours. However, different people will pace them differently. Some are real quickies.


Mini-Courses: More In-Depth, A Balance of Practice and Theory

TTCI Mini-courses: Picture of a stack of books with a tablet computer on the top.

Sometimes you want to go deeper into a subject. Sometimes it is necessary to present a subject in a bit more depth for it to be usable. But in keeping with the spirit of practicality, courses should offer actionable learning. Learning that you can put to good use. When presenting greater depth in the subject the course should generally couple aspects of practice with aspects of theory. There should be a good balance between them. They should support each other without either one falling short.

Mini-courses provide this more in-depth coverage without becoming full fledged extended learning experiences. That might require too significant of an investment of time and effort.

Mini-courses might range in time investment from several hours to several days. Not all mini-courses are free online courses. Some of them require a paid registration.


Full-Courses: When You Really Want to Dig In

TTCI full-courses: Outline of a man with gears and the words development, knowledge, learning, training, coaching.

How about some subject that is a big topic on the Internet now? One that really interests you but that is hard to fully grasp. You could search out bits and pieces with Google and try to put it all together. But that usually leaves a lot of gaps and figuring out all the connections between the pieces can be tough. After all, those articles are independent of each other. They were never intended to connect.

That kind of study works much better as a course that is extensive enough to fully cover the material. It benefits greatly from participation by a learning community where other interested people actively engage in the discussion. It also really benefits from a more significant participation of a leading instructor.

These are the things that UFNLC full courses offer.

A full course will typically require a time investment of anywhere from a week to several weeks. It will depend on the subject matter and depth. Note the comments below about continuously developing courses since this is often applicable to full courses. Some full courses are free online courses. Most of them require a paid registration.


Certificates: To Document What You Have Learned

TTCI certification: Picture of an old document with a stamp and a raised seal.

UFNLC is not a traditional educational institution. It does not participate in any of the certification processes that accredited colleges and universities require. Its purpose is practical learning to help you get things done that really matter to you. So, it does not need the standard certification processes. But still, you very well might want to keep a record of your learning accomplishments. You might want to get nice looking certificates that tell what you have learned. Maybe a little bit in the way of bragging rights!

UFNLC certificates aim at giving you exactly that. You will not be able to use them to help you get into a college or university. But the learning itself that they represent just might help you with that. And with a lot of other things too!

A number of certificate programs are available. Every full course provides a certificate. Collections of multiple micro-courses and mini-courses can also rate for a certificate. There are requirements for a course to contribute to a certificate. You must complete a specified set of activities as you work on it. These are clearly marked for you. That way you know exactly what you need to do to get certificate credit for the course.

UFNLC will provide links that you can embed anyplace you might like to make your certificates visible. You also get your certificates as PDF files.

So, along with your free online courses you can get free online certificates!


Continuously Developing Courses

Continuously developing courses: Outline of a head with the word change in it and two circular arrows indicating rotation.

TTCI courses are dynamic. They develop with time. Just as the technology they cover changes constantly they must change to keep up with it. So, it is natural that you might want to keep up with the changes in courses you have completed. You are permanently enrolled in each course you choose to enroll in unless you decide to terminate the enrollment. You can come back to a course to review its content any time you want. And you can get notifications when a course gets updated. That way if those changes matter to you, you can come back and get just the new information. You do not have to repeat the whole course.

The notification system sends you an email each time a course you are enrolled in or have completed gets updated. It gives you the list of what has changed. That way you can easily decide if those changes matter to you. You will receive just one notification for each change. You would not receive another notification for a given course unless it were to be updated again.


Requirements For Participation

A checklist being marked off with a colored highlighter.

Basically the only requirement for participation in UFNLC courses is to have a valid account. Your UFearless account is also your UFNLC account. The two sites work together in many ways so you can see them as two parts of a single site. In a few special cases courses are offered independently of UFearless and have separate accounts.

You will also need to complete a micro-course that teaches you how to get around in the courses.


Instructor Led Courses

Instructor lead courses: Two putty figures, a professor and a student, in front of a blackboard with the professor pointing something out.
Although most courses are not fully instructor led, an instructor is usually available to you to help out when needed. He or she will be monitoring what is going on in the courses to detect the need for assistance. You also have direct access to an instructor to ask for help. In most cases full-courses are fully instructor led.

Great instructor resources are scarce and expensive! UFNLC provides limited instructor participation in all courses. Some courses which most need instructor participation get the most of that. Your current instructor is Mr. Cameron Bunch who has a long history in computers and technology. He has an extensive background in online teaching as a result of having instructed many online classes for University of Maryland University College (UMUC) as an adjunct professor.

He is also a computer security expert who holds the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) certification. You can see his CISSP badge here: Cameron Bunch Acclaim CISSP Badge.

But don’t let all that scare you off! Cameron is a very down to earth guy. He is easy to talk to. He understands very well that most people do not understand a whole lot of the technical jargon. Cameron understands that a lot of the concepts can seem like they came from outer space. They need clear, practical explanations. He will be your bridge to the understanding that you need. More instructors will be incorporated in the future.