It's summer, which means vacations, barbeques, and, most importantly, no school. But that doesn't mean you can't learn something while you lounge by the pool. Schools and organizations all over the country are offering online courses taught by real professors—for free.
Here are some places you can find them.
Want to take a Quantum Mechanics course at UC Berkeley but don't have the cash? You can take classes from top universities including Princeton, Stanford, Duke, and a bunch of others at Coursera. The classes are designed to help you learn the material quickly and are a lot more interactive than just sitting and watching a lecture. One cool feature is the peer review function for courses in topics like literature or humanities, which are usually harder to learn online.
The best part? They don't require any personal information to enroll, only your first name, email address, and a password. Click here for a list of available classes.
The Khan Academy is a non-profit that was started by a Harvard and MIT graduate who was initially just tutoring his cousin remotely with Yahoo Doodle graphics. Now the site has over 3,000 video tutorials on any subject you could imagine. It's perfect for people who want to learn a concept from the ground up with no prior knowledge since it has videos on all levels.
They make it fun with the "knowledge map," which shows you what you've completed and gives you challenges based on skills you've already learned. You get badges for watching videos and mastering concepts and they have a fun little graph that shows you how you're doing according to the goals you set for yourself.
Check out all the videos the Khan Academy offers here.
If you have an Apple device, iTunes U is a great tool to use because it keeps all your stuff in one place. The app syncs with the cloud and stores your documents, videos and iBooks and lets you highlight and make notes.
Some courses are private and only available to students who are actually in the instructor's class at his or her university, but there are plenty of free ones to choose from, too. It also includes resources from places like museums and public libraries as well as universities and some K-12 teachers.
edX is a partnership between MIT and Harvard University that will offer—you guessed it—online Harvard and MIT classes. It's based on the MITx platform, but they've made the software open-source so that other institutions can join in the future. They plan to do research on how students do in the courses so that they can improve online learning in the future.
The first round of courses on edX starts this fall, but they've already done one prototype course and received positive feedback from students.
Find out more about edX and what kind of courses they plan to offer here.
Whether you want to supplement what you're learning at school or just want to know more about a topic that's always made you curious, these courses can be beneficial to almost anyone. They may not count for college credit, but they offer a way to learn about any topic at your own pace, at no cost. What's not to love?
And of course, let's not forget that there's a wealth of information available to you right here on WonderHowTo!
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