July 7, 2010

On-Line Courses Just for Fun

You are likely aware of various on-line schools of higher education. Places like the University of Phoenix, the largest on-line school in the world, offers a full range of degrees.  At last count over 200 accredited college and universities in the U.S. offer the ability to get a degree without ever stepping into a classroom. better. Complete a degree you had to stop to go to work, or follow a new path in a whole new direction.

What you may not be aware of are the incredible resources available online from some of these same universities that are absolutely free, have no tests or papers to worry about, and can be started and stopped at any time. The range of subjects covered is every bit as extensive as it is if you were paying a tuition.

I have sampled courses from Yale, MIT, Berkeley, and Stanford. I have tried audio courses, video courses, courses with reading lists and without, courses that are fun and entertaining, and courses that test my mental limits.

Most reputable studies make it clear that the brain must be exercised like any other muscle. Things like crossword puzzles, regular reading schedules, TV shows that make you think are important. Social interactions and conversation with others are very important. Future posts will touch on all these subjects. But, for now, let's look at what you can find sitting in front of a computer.  Here is a list of links you can click to see what is available.

  • Probably the most surprising resource is ITunes U. Over 250,000 free lectures, videos, films, and other resources are here and they are free. You don't even need an IPod or IPhone. Download the material directly to your computer, using free software provided by Apple.

  • One of my personal favorites is Open Culture. In addition to all the college level courses, there are links to free audio books, videos of every style. Ever want to learn a foreign language. Open Culture gives you the chance. Over 250 free courses are available.

  • Promising 1,900  free lecture notes, exams, and videos from MIT, all free and without registration, is the aptly named MIT Open Course Ware.

There are dozens of additional links you can find by Googling "Free On Line Courses."  The ability to use your computer, some free time, and the willingness to learn something new is one of the best ways to keep your mind active and your retirement lifestyle happy and satisfying.

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