I really do, and I don't mean online classes at an online college or at a traditional university. I mean taking online classes at Coursera, which presents classes from over 30 world-class universities across the globe. Learning online is becoming more and more popular and acceptable, since its more than those for-profit places that are doing it, and technology has made it so much easier to deliver a lecture or to interact with other students online. Right now, they have over 200 classes, and the best part about all of them? The classes are completely free.
Why I Want to Do This
Wasn't there a class in college that you wish you could have taken, but it couldn't fit into your schedule or it conflicted with another class that you had to take? I definitely had a few. Now, I can take those classes and then some, all completely free (although the site could use a few more political science and global classes). When signing for a class, you can see how long the class is and the expected workload per week, so you can know what you are getting into before you sign up and what's going to be covered in the class (something that can be tough to get for a traditional class on a college campus). Also, since students only get a certificate of completion, instead of college credits or professional certification, the classes on Coursera are designed for folks who are curious about a particular subject. However, this doesn't mean you necessarily don't have to do any papers or take any quizzes, and most classes have at least one of those requirements. Others have peer discussions and video lectures to watch, so its not like you can sign up, do nothing, and get a certificate. Although, some of the classes do recommend that students have background in a certain subject or have previously taken a class or two on a certain subject.
Contraception: Choices, Culture and Consequences
For example, a class called "Contraception: Choices, Culture and Consequences" from the University of California, San Francisco is five weeks long and has three to five hours of work per week. The title sounded interesting, but I fail to see in the basic agenda of the class where the "culture and consequences" parts come in. I'm a little bummed, as I thought this class would be a bit more discussion based and controversial than it actually seems. From the title, it would seem that students would learn how other countries and cultures perceive contraception, and how they construct government policy for it. It would be interesting just to go over a history of contraception in the United States. However, all that good stuff will not be covered. I will not take this class, despite it being something that I would normally enjoy.
Classes that I Might/Will Take
I know that one of the last things I need to do is to take a class, but there are so many that I am interested in! These classes aren't even business topics either, but classes on health, history, the physical sciences and the social sciences. Here's a list of just some of the classes coming up that I would love to take:
- Principles of Public Health
- Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- Critical Thinking in Global Challenges
- The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness
- Women and the Civil Rights Movement
- Introduction to Sociology
- Internet History, Technology, and Security
My goodness, the wonderful things you can learn! That's a lot of classes too, and that's just through what's starting in March. Coursera has classes listed up through July 2013.