Taking Advantage of Free Online Classes

by Reese

The thing that I’ve been hearing most from my friends after they got out of college is that not being in school makes them feel dumb. I kind of understand the feeling. I’m not nerdy enough to constantly want to be in school, but I have to admit that the novelty of being on vacation wears off pretty quickly for me (around the two week mark). By this point, I’ve rotted my brain with television and Netflix, online manga, youtube, and bad literature and my brain feels like mush. Then I start wishing for the classes that just weeks ago I was swearing I’d kill myself over. So I get the whole “my brain feels dumb thing.”

What I don’t get is how people don’t do anything to change this. With all the technological advances in education – which range from phone apps to websites – not being enrolled in an actual school isn’t an excuse anymore.

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Free computer science courses offered online this summer through Stanford


Hey everyone! I received an email about this today and thought I would share it. Here are some free computer science MOOCs offered through Stanford University this summer! They have a course for beginners, as well as some more specialize courses for those who already have some computer science background. 

I took the course on Databases from them in the past; I wasn’t able to keep up with it as well as I would have liked (I signed up for a section that was offered during my spring semester, so I ended up not having enough time,) but I went back to it again later and thought it was very well done. 

I may take one or two in preparation for next year. If anyone has any experience with any of these specific course offerings, feel free to share what you thought about them!

Study “Harry Potter” and International Relations this summer!

The Policy Studies Organization, which is based in Washington, DC, has announced that they are running a brand new course this summer together with the American Public University. The course, which is called “International Politics in this World and Beyond: Wizards, Fiction and Political Fact in a Global Age”, will look at “Harry Potter”, alongside the works of Tolkien, and the world of “Star Wars”.


Take two and call me in the morning

So just in case you didn’t know about them, there are some pretty fantastic online education resources. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are free online classes from all kinds of institutions and covering all kinds of topics from the humanities to the hard sciences. 

F  R  E  E


edX - courses from MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, UT, Australian Nat’l Uni, TU Delft, Georgetown, McGill, Rice, and more. There’s an awesome one that starts in October called “Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science” co-taught by pro chefs and Harvard


coursera - courses from CalTech, UPenn, Columbia, and Northwestern among dozens. TakeUnderstanding Media by Understanding Google”, it starts in September. Or "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative", also starts in September.


Udacity - Still suffering from an Orphan Black hangover? Wondering what to do until season 2? Take "Tales from the Genome"  in Fall 2013


Khan Academy - Bad at math? Hate tutors but need extra help? Need a review of physics or macroeconomics? Khan has dozens of self-paced programs with practice sets and personal stats to keep you keeping track and challenged. 


MITs open courseware has dozens of classes with downloadable content. Take "The Challenges of World Poverty"  or "Introduction to Copyright Law"


Saylor - asynchronous self-paced classes, start when you want and take as long as you need. Full programs of study with core courses and electives. Sign up for “History of Technology” with me or "Art of the Islamic World"


Be prepared to bookmark no fewer than twenty classes you want to take, it’s like a candy store but you can EAT ALL THE CANDY FOR FREE. 

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Want to learn Space Systems Engineering?

NASA and saylor.org will host a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on space systems engineering. Enrollment is free and for everyone. The course will include weekly lectures and exercises. You will be able to contact your fellow students and the lecturers through their forums and google hangouts.

The course start 3rd of March, more information can be found here.

What Does ‘Open’ Mean? One Academic Weighs In

When talking about educational technology, what does the idea of “openness” mean? The word “open” appears in both “open-access publishing” and “MOOCs” (massively open online courses), but does it represent the same things? Does it stand for the same values, or help the same set of people?

A small essay by Amherst College professor John Drabinski, published today, examines the word in the context of a higher education institution confronted with contemporary technological choices.

In 2013, Drabinski writes, the Amherst faculty had to decide on three big questions:

  1. Should they make a digital repository of faculty publications available?
  2. Should they make Amherst College Press, the college’s official publisher, an open-access press?
  3. Should they accept or refuse offers from Udacity, Coursera and EdX to convert some of the college’s best-known courses into MOOCs?

All of these questions turn on the concept of “openness.“ Two concerned “open-access publishing,” one “massively open online courses.” The Amherst faculty chose to create a digital repository and make Amherst College Press “open-access,” but not to capitulate to MOOC manufacturers.

Read more. [Image: Shutterstock/Kevin George]

The Roman harbour city of Portus lay at the heart of an empire that extended from Scotland to Iraq. Established by Claudius and enlarged by the emperor Trajan with spoils of the Dacian wars, the port was the conduit for everything the city of Rome required from its Mediterranean provinces: the food and, particularly grain, that fed the largest urban population of the ancient world, as well as luxuries of all kinds, building materials, people and wild animals for the arena.

On this course you will chart a journey from the Imperial harbour to its connections across the Mediterranean, learning about what the archaeological discoveries uncovered by the Portus Project tell us about the history, landscape, buildings, and the people of this unique place. Although the site lies in ruins, it has some of the best-preserved Roman port buildings in the Mediterranean, and in this course you will learn to interpret these and the finds discovered within them, using primary research data and the virtual tools of the archaeologist.

Largely filmed on location at Portus, the course will provide you with an insight into the wide range of digital technologies employed to record, analyse and present the site. In addition to the lead educators, our enthusiastic team of student archaeologists will support your learning.
You can use the hashtag #UoSFLPortus to join and contribute to Twitter conversations about this course.

Professor Vicki Colvin and Daniel Mittleman

Nanotechnology is an emerging area that engages almost every technical discipline – from chemistry to computer science – in the study and application of extremely tiny materials.  This short course allows any technically savvy person to go one layer beyond the surface of this broad topic to see the real substance behind the very small.

Workload: 4-8 hours/week

Starting today. Intro Video:

[via trendsfm]

5 Ways of Understanding the New, Feminist MOOC That’s Not a MOOC

Yesterday, we received word of the newest innovation in higher education. Across the world this fall, it was said, students and professors would sit down at computer screens, breathe deeply, and plunge themselves into open learning.

But they would not be taking a MOOC.

They’ll be taking a DOCC: a Distributed Open Collaborative Course. Its name rhymes with “lock.”

It is a feminist MOOC.

Here are five ways of understanding it.

Read more. [Image: Robinson Meyer/Evan Branch]

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Free Open2Study Course: Becoming Human: Anthropology (BeHuman) with Assoc. Prof. Greg Downey
  • from MacQuairie University

"Gain an introductory understanding of evolution, including how we evolved from primates and became human.

What’s it about?

Impressively, humans are the only creatures produced by evolution that are capable of understanding evolution. In Becoming Human: Anthropology, you can explore how evolution works and how variation arises.

Find out why, of all the orders of life, primates produced us. How did apes start to look like us, walk on two feet and grow big brains that over the past 200,000 years have figured out where we came from? This course will give you some thought-provoking answers” (learn more).

  • Course starts on: 28/04/2014
  • Course ends on: 27/05/2014

(Source: Open2Study)

Enter the World of Massively Open Online Courses

A few weeks ago I saw an article online from Forbes that read something along the lines of ‘You Can Now Take A College Course on the Walking Dead.’ I’m sure a lot of you all saw it, too. When I first read it I thought maybe that meant that some university somewhere was planning some themed course on zombies and pop culture. That wouldn’t be too out of place at a state school where you can frequently find courses on topics like Harry Potter, the works of JRR Tolkein, and professors writing about zombies and tax law.  I figured the “you” in the title meant you could take the course if you went to that particular school.

Read more here…

Take AP exams, and prepare for them online.

Hey everyone! It looks like edX — the great massive online courses platform — just released their High School Initiative. This is an excellent way of preparing your AP exams, because you can watch the videos any time you want, and they’re excellent preparation for your APs.

Wait, what are APs?

APs are Advanced Placement exams, which are sort of like your SAT Subject Tests. They’re a great way of showing you can do good in an exam, and that you know a subject well.

Oh, so they’re like SAT Subject Tests.

Well, sort of, but not really. First, they are a bit different in style and grading (you can find this information online). But also, they’re much more vast and diverse: you can take an AP exama on Computer Science, for example, which you can’t do in SAT Subject Tests.

But I’m an international. Colleges don’t expect me to take APs!

No, they don’t, but we’re trying to surprise them, aren’t we?

Seriously though, you’ll be showing colleges you can do great in an exam, which is what matters. You’ll be showing them you can do well in one area, and you’re showing them data that they can understand and process — which makes the job easier for them, surely.

Great. Show me again the links.


This is the High School Initiative by edX. Good luck.

This is the College Board website on the AP exams.

This is not endorsed by edX or College Board. I’m just doing this for fun.

Clayton Christensen and Michael B Horn: Online Education as an Agent of Transformation - NYTimes.com

Like steam, online education is a disruptive innovation — one that introduces more convenient and affordable products or services that over time transform sectors. Yet many bricks-and-mortar colleges are making the same mistake as the once-dominant tall ships: they offer online courses but are not changing the existing model. They are not saving students time and money, the essential steps to disruption. And though their approach makes sense in the short term, it leaves them vulnerable as students gravitate toward less expensive colleges.

Free Online Course: England in the time of King Richard III from the University of Leicester

King Richard III and the MOOCs

Since the last couple of years, more and more universities are participating in collaborations where they create so-called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These are a way for anyone that is interested to participate in open-access, free from costs university courses. The courses are basically on any kind of subject you can think of: from art and history to…

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