Coursera: Online learning
This is the key to my mental sanity. Free, open, online courses in almost any subject you can think of. I first learned about this incredible website last March and my first course was on ancient Greece. This is a topic that has always fascinated me but I never had a chance to take a classics course in university. Since then I have nerded my way through Intro to Psychology, Nutrition, and now Human History.
The format that Coursera uses is very flexible. Their website basically hosts university courses which professors at partner universities have voluntarily put together specifically for Coursera. Each week a series of video lectures are posted totaling 1– 3 hours. In some classes, the professor posts additional readings to be done. Assessment usually involves quizzes and peer-reviewed assignments. Of course, doing the homework is entirely optional. If you choose to do it you can earn a “statement of accomplishment”, but otherwise you can just enjoy the lectures. There are also discussion forums you can participate in. It can be very interesting because students come from all over the world, so there is an enormous diversity of opinions.
Coursera has really exploded during the past year. There are more than 4.5 million students signed up for more than 480 courses offered by 85 universities.
I spent many enjoyable hours at cafés with my tablet learning from the video lectures. I really don’t know what I would do if innovative websites like this were not available! I hope that this inspires some of you out there to give it a try!