Monday, June 3, 2013

Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Summer Semester 2013

Originally posted on on May 15, 2013

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 fall for our third 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?

Whether school's out for the summer or you just graduated (congratulations!), there's no reason to stop learning and growing just because the temperature is going up. Take your laptop out on the patio with you, or your tablet down to the beach, and enjoy the incredible amount of free, university-level courses that become available on the web every school year. 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.

If you'll remember from our Spring 2013 semester, some of these classes are available year-round, but many of them are only available during the a specific term or semester, and because we're all about helping you improve your life at Lifehacker, we put together a list of courses available this summer 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

Udacity - Introduction to Computer Science
University of Michigan - Internet History, Technology, and Security
Udacity - Web Development
University of London - Malicious Software and its Underground Economy: Two Sides to Every Story
Udacity - HTML5 Game Development
Saylor University - Information Security
University of Washington - Introduction to Data Science

Finance and Economics

University of Michigan - Introduction to Finance
Marketplace - Money 101: Credit, Debt, and Saving
Marketplace - Money 101: Retirement and Investing
Saylor University - Money, Banking, and Financial Markets
The Open University - Contemporary Issues in Finance


University of California, Berkeley - Descriptive Introduction to Physics
MIT - 8.02x: Electricity and Magnetism
University of British Columbia - Useful Genetics
TED - Neuroscience
The University of Texas, Austin - UT.1.01x: Energy 101
Harvard - SPU27x: Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science
Johns Hopkins University - Critical Analysis of Popular Diets and Dietary Supplements


Udacity/San Jose State University - Elementary Statistics: The Science of Decisions
Saylor University - Beginning Alegbra
La Trobe University - The Algebra of Everything

Social Sciences, Classics, and Humanities

University of Texas, Austin - UT.2.01x: Ideas of the 20th Century
Yale University - SOCY 151: Foundations of Modern Social Theory
Georgetown University - INFX523-01: Globalization's Winners and Losers: Challenges for Developed and Developing Countries
University of Texas, Austin - UT.3.01x: Age of Globalization
Rutgers University - The Future of Humankind


Case Western Reserve University -Introduction to International Criminal Law
The University of Cambridge - The Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law Seminar Series
Johns Hopkins University - Animals in Research: Law, Policy, and Humane Sciences
Harvard University - Justice

Cross-Disciplinary Courses and Seminars

University of Oklahoma - Introduction to Management
Vanderbilt University - Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative
University of Washington - Introduction to Public Speaking
University of California, Berkeley - Edible Education 103: Telling Stories About Food and Agriculture
Carnegie Mellon University - STEM Readiness

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. 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(in some cases - some 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.

With Lifehacker U, you're free to take as many or as few of these classes as you like, and we'll update this course guide every term with a fresh list of courses on new and interesting topics, some of which are only available during that academic term.