Teaching Old Dogs…

I’ve always been an information junkie and I love learning new things.  Many times over the past few years I’ve mentioned that I’d like to go take some classes at the local community college.  It was never the right time or we didn’t really have the funds to spare.  Another issue was that there wasn’t a specific area of study I was interested in and they tend to frown on admitting people that just wish to take courses at random.

Then a few months ago I ran across an article about MOOCs (massive open online courses).  There were links to a few sites that offered these classes and I decided to check them out.  What I thought would be a cursory scan ended up taking several hours.

There’s a wide variety of courses offered, taught by professors from esteemed institutions, both private colleges and state universities.  You can take one class or fifteen and you don’t have to specify a “major” or work towards a specific degree.  Best of all…they’re free and I can go to class in my pajamas.  So I signed up and registered for a few classes.

I’m currently enrolled in two classes, with another one starting this upcoming Monday and I’ve been really enjoying myself so far.  There are some hard deadlines for certain quizzes or assignments, so its not a self-study, go-at-your-own-pace kind of thing.  But its flexible in that I can watch the lectures, read materials, or complete assignments at any point before the deadline instead of being stuck in a classroom for a specific four hours a week.

These aren’t “fluff” classes either.  I learned very quickly in my first week that multi-tasking during the lectures wasn’t a good idea.  I’ve had to dust off note-taking and critical-thinking skills that I haven’t used in the past thirteen years.  And I love it.

There are a few websites I’ve found, but the one I’m using currently is Coursera.  The basic classes are available at no charge, there are no text book costs (at least for the classes I’m taking), and they seem to have a wide variety of class types.

There’s also edX and Udacity for no-cost classes.  Udemy is a bit different.  There is a small-to-moderate fee for each class and I think all the classes are self-paced.

If you’re like me and love to learn just for learning’s sake or a mommy that hasn’t used her brain for anything more strenuous than deciding between beef or pork for dinner in the past ten years, you might want to check into these types of online classes.