Friday, January 11, 2013

FYI: Plan Your Free Online Education: Spring Semester 2013

Originally posted on Lifehacker.com on Jan 9, 2013
by Alan Henry

Your education doesn't have to stop once you leave school—freedom from the classroom just means you have more control over what you learn and when you learn it. We've put together a curriculum of some of the best free online classes available on the web this spring for our fourth term of Lifehacker U, our regularly-updating guide to improving your life with free, online college-level classes. Let's get started.

Orientation: What Is Lifehacker U?
There's still a chill in the air, but it's not too soon to pick out your classes for when the weather starts to warm again and the trees start to grow leaves again. Bundle up if you go out, but if you stay in with your computer, there are an incredible amount of free, university-level courses that become available on the web every school year, and anyone with a little time and a passion for self-growth can audit, read, and "enroll" in these courses for their own personal benefit. Schools like Yale University, MIT, Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, and many more are all offering free online classes that you can audit and participate in from the comfort of your office chair, couch, or computing chair-of-choice.

Because we're all about helping you improve your life at Lifehacker, we put together a list of courses available this spring that will inspire you, challenge you, open the door to something new, and give you the tools to improve your life. Grab your pen and paper and make sure your battery is charged—class is in session!

Computer Science and Technology

University of Washington - Introduction to Computer Networks
MIT - Introduction to C++
Udacity - Programming Languages
University of California, Berkeley: Foundations of Computer Graphics
Carnegie Mellon University - Principles of Computing
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology - Android Development
MIT - Information and Entropy

Finance and Economics

University of California, Irvine - Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning
Missouri State University - Personal Finance (iTunes U)
The Open University - You and Your Money: Personal Finance in Context
Liberty University - Financial Coaching (iTunes U)
University of Florida - Economic Issues, Food, and You
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania - Corporate Finance

Science and Medicine

Udacity - Introduction to Physics
The Open University - The Fundamental Forces of the Universe (iTunes U)
The University of Edinburgh - Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Yale University: Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering
Duke University - Introduction to Human Physiology
Yale University: Global Problems of Population Growth

Mathematics

University of California, Irvine - Algebra
The Ohio State University - Calculus One
TED - Statistics: Visualizing Data (iTunes U)
The Open University/BBC - The Code (Mathematics in the real world)

Social Sciences, Classics, and Humanities

Wesleyan University - The Modern and the Postmodern
Harvard: Human Health and Global Environmental Change
The University of Pennsylvania - Health Policy and The Affordable Care Act
Harvard University: The Ancient Greek Hero
MIT - Consumer Culture

Law

Harvard University: Copyright
Harvard University - Justice
The Open University - Justice, Vengeance, and Forgiveness (iTunes U)
Liberty University - Computer and Cyber Forensics (iTunes U)

Cross-Disciplinary Courses and Seminars

Udacity - HTML5 Game Development
University of Michigan - Fantasy & Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World
University of Virginia - Know Thyself
MIT - Introduction to Videogame Studies
The University of London - The Camera Never Lies

Extra Credit: How To Find Your Own Online Classes

The cirriculum at Lifehacker U is rich and deep, but it may not reflect all of your areas of interests or expertise. If you're looking for more or more varied course material, here are some resources to help you find great, university-level online classes that you can take from the comfort of your desk, at any time of day.
  • Academic Earth curates an amazing list of video seminars and classes from some of the world's smartest minds, innovators, and leaders on a variety of topics including science, mathematics, politics, public policy, art, history, and more.
  • TED talks are well known for being thought provoking, interesting, intelligent, and in many cases, inspiring and informative. We've featured TED talks at Lifehacker before, and if you're looking for seminars on the web worth watching, TED is worth perusing.
  • edX is a collection of free courses from leading Universities like the University of California, Berkeley, MIT, and Harvard. There aren't many, but the ones offered are free, open to the public, and they rotate often.
  • Coursera has a broad selection of courses in-session or beginning shortly that you can take for academic credit (if you're enrolled) or just a certificate of completion that shows you've learned a new skill. Topics range from science and technology to social science and humanities, and they're all free.
  • Udacity offers a slimmer selection of courses, but the ones offered are not only often for-credit, but they're instructor led and geared towards specific goals, with skilled and talented instructors walking you through everything from building a startup to programming a robotic car.
  • The Saylor Foundation offers a wide array of courses and entire course programs on topics from economics to political science and professional development. Interested in a crash course in mechanical engineering? The Saylor Foundation can help you with that.
  • Education-Portal.com has a list has a list of universities offering free and for-credit online classes to students and the public at large.
  • Open Culture's list of free online courses is broken down by subject matter and includes classes available on YouTube, iTunes U, and direct from the University or School's website.
  • The Open Courseware Consortium is a collection of colleges and universities that have all agreed to use a similar platform to offer seminars and full classes—complete with notes, memos, examinations, and other documentation free on the web. They also maintain a great list of member schools around the world, so you can visit universities anywhere in the world and take the online classes they make available.
  • The Khan Academy offers free YouTube-based video classes in math, science, technology, the humanities, and test preparation and study skills. If you're looking to augment your education or just take a couple video classes in your spare time, it's a great place to start and has a lot of interesting topics to offer.
  • The University of Reddit is a crowd-built set of classes and seminars by Reddit users who have expertise to share. Topics range from computer science and programming to paleontology, narrative poetry, and Latin. Individuals interested in teaching classes regularly post to the University of Reddit subthread to gauge interest in future couses and announce when new modules are available.
  • The Lifehacker Night School is our own set of tutorials and classes that help you out with deep and intricate subjects like becoming a better photographer, building your own computer, or getting to know your network, among others.
The beautiful thing about taking classes online is that you can pick and choose the classes you want to attend, skip lectures and come back to them later (only in some cases - some of these classes require your regular attendance and participation!), and do examinations and quizzes on your own time. You can load up with as many classes as you choose, or take a light course load and come back to some of the classes you meant to take at another time that's more convenient for you.