Monday, January 6, 2014

Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U

Originally posted on Lifehacker.com on Jan 3, 2014


We've put together a curriculum of some of the best free online classes available on the web this spring (yes, and winter) for the latest term of Lifehacker U.

Orientation: What Is Lifehacker U?

Whether you're headed to college for the first time, you're back in classes after a fun, food, and family-filled holiday break, or you're long out of school and interested in learning something new, now's the time to turn it on and increase your skills with some interesting and informative classes and seminars. Anyone with a little time and an interest for self-growth (and a computer) 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 dorm room, office chair, couch, or computing chair-of-choice.

If you'll remember from our Fall 2013 semester, some of these classes are available year-round, but many of them are only available during a specific term. Because we're all about helping you improve your life at Lifehacker, we put together a list of courses available this winter 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
Finance and Economics
Science and Medicine
Mathematics
Social Sciences, Classics, and Humanities
Law
Cross-Disciplinary Courses and Seminars
Extra Credit: How To Find Your Own Online Classes
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.
  • Class Central aggregates some of the best courses available from open universities and programs around the web in an easy to sort and search format. Just search for what you want to learn, and if a course is available and starting soon, you'll find it.
  • Education-Portal.com has a list of universities offering free and for-credit online classes to students and the public at large.P
  • CreateLIVE features a number of interactive courses in business, photography, and self-improvement, many of which are free and available to listen in on at any time of day. 
  • 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 courses 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.