Thanks to technology, learners in every corner of the globe can now study nearly any subject online, often for free or next to free. But such bounty can sometimes be overwhelming. With so many offerings, which classes really benefit students the most?

Class Central aims to clear up some of the confusion by curating the 8,000 or so MOOCs (massive open online courses) currently available to students. They also put together an annual list of the 50 most highly rated classes in areas from technology to the humanities.

"Students rate the classes on a five-star scale similar to how they would a restaurant on Yelp. We sort the classes based on the Bayesian average of their rating, which factors in the number of ratings for the class," Class Central founder and CEO Dhawal Shah explained to Inc.com in an email.

If you want to study Python or poetry, the complete list is here. However, if you are specifically hoping to hone your business skills online, here are the top five business-related MOOCs recommended by the 30,000 students who have reviewed classes on Class Central. To get a certificate of completion and have your work graded, you may need to shell out a small fee of about $50. Otherwise the courses can be taken for free.

This wildly popular course is offered by the University of California, San Diego, via Coursera, It provides "invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines." Students "learn about the how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates ('chunks') information," as well as "illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects."

"No matter what your skill levels in topics you would like to master, you can change your thinking and change your life," promises the course description.

Another top-rated class promising to help you learn faster. This one from McMaster University via Coursera is focused more on career issues, and the topics covered sound like a top hits list of common work questions: "Mindshift teaches you essentials such as how to get the most out of online learning and MOOCs, how to seek out and work with mentors, the secrets to avoiding career ruts (and catastrophes) and general ruts in life, and insights such as the value of selective ignorance over general competence."

Life is essentially one long series of decisions, and this course from the University of Groningen via FutureLearn promises to help you make better ones, particularly in a fast-paced world that doesn't always making choosing correctly easy.

"Our world seems to ever become more complex and uncertain. Future leaders must be able to act under these conditions. This course provides you with the broad scientific background necessary to develop yourself into one of the future's key decision makers," explains the course description.

A more nuts and bolts offering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More than 150,000 learners have taken this course, making it one of Coursera's most popular of all time. It "examines how digital tools, such as the internet, smartphones, and 3-D printing, are revolutionizing the world of marketing by shifting the balance of power from firms to consumers."

Another course focusing on hard career skills, this time from the University of Minnesota via Coursera. It sounds ideal for entrepreneurs looking to level up their recruiting and retention efforts. "This course provides a foundation for developing your own approach to skillfully managing employees by illustrating alternative human resource management (HRM) strategies, introducing the importance of the legal context, and thinking about what motivates employees," the course description explains.

"Don't know anything about HRM? That's OK!" it adds, so beginners should feel perfectly welcome.

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Published on: Aug 31, 2017