Summer is over and soon Berlin’s streets will be flooded by children with enormous backpacks and even bigger candy-filled Schultüten. But Berlin has no shortage of e-resources for students of all backgrounds and ages.
Founded in Berlin in 2011, Iversity is an online learning platform (no app version) offering higher education and professional development courses to over 750,000 registered users. It’s the first European site to offer so-called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), interactive classes where anyone who wants to can participate, and one of only a few platforms that can award ECTS credit points (an EU grading system).
Many of the courses on the site are free and available in multiple languages, and topics range from cultural studies from the European University Institute to “Clinical Management of HIV” from the European AIDS Clinical Society.
I dipped my toe into a beginners’ Spanish course offered by the Universidad a Distancia de Madrid which included 23 videos across 20 chapters to help get a grasp of some basic Spanish phrases. After watching a short video, I was invited to take a quiz to test my learning. While it’s not got quite the same gamification appeal as an app like Babbel or Duolingo, the course was well structured and I found the videos helpful. I’ll be speaking like a pro in no time.
If you’ve got hankerings to join Berlin’s start-up scene but no experience in tech, Berlin-based CareerFoundry could help you learn the skills you need. Since 2014, more than 27,000 people have taken courses on iOS development, UI and UX design and web development. I looked into the iOS course, written by developers with experience at Apple and Hewlett-Packard, which promised to help you build your first app. Limited to 25 spots, the online course can be completed at your own pace (based on 20 hours per week, it’d take six months). Like all of CareerFoundry’s courses, your lessons are supplemented both by an assigned tutor for real-time help and an industry professional mentor who reviews your work via video chat. I contemplated giving it a spin, but was put off by the price: €3500! At least the company promises a full refund if you’re one of the five percent of students who don’t find a job in six months.
ARRIVING IN BERLIN
Meanwhile, a new app has just been launched to help refugees and newcomers to Berlin find their way. Based on an online map developed by Haus der Kulturen der Welt and tech education project Refugees on Rails, Arriving in Berlin includes useful information on essentials such as German courses, advice and support centres, Arabic- and Farsi-speaking doctors and Middle Eastern supermarkets – basically everything you need to get your feet on the ground. Available on Android in six languages (Arabic, German, English, Farsi, French and Sorani), the map can be used offline and also hooks up to your phone’s GPS through Google Maps to help find the places closest to you. Not a refugee? You’ll still appreciate the list of free wi-fi hotspots.