You may be reading about how online learning is a revolution that is happening all around us. But for sometime I have been skeptical. The purpose of this essay is to share with you how my own exploration of this area is now producing worthwhile results. Hope that you find it useful and will begin your own exploration.
There are many sites for online learning at the university level and high school level. First let me list a few and give you perspectives on their use and structure –
- Lynda.com is a site of training videos for learning subjects like Excel Macros, programming, arts and crafts. It cost $25 per month for basic membership and for this fee you can take unlimited courses as often as you like or have time. The courses are given by self determined experts, there is no real screening of their credentials such as you would have at major universities. Still many of the courses are quite good. It is a good site for keeping up with new technology, for example.
- Playground Sessions and Artist Works are both music learning websites for a variety of instruments. Playground Sessions offers basic keyboard lessons for beginners through intermediates and there you can learn complete songs pretty quickly. Artist Works is at the other end of the spectrum, offering classes in many different instruments where you watch videos from leading master performing figures and where these same famous people give the students direct video feedback from questions submitted by video from their students.
- Khan Academy is generally a free learning website that focuses on short educational videos in various areas for middle and high school ages. You can learn algebra or geometry, for example.
- Udacity offers courses at the college and job skills sharpening level such as Java or Python programming. The courses cost individually anywhere from $25 to more than $200.
- Coursera offers courses from some of the finest degree granting institutions in the world and many of the courses are free for those who just want to enrich their lives. I am currently watching a course on Coursera entitled “A Brief History of Humankind” and it is FANTASTIC.
When I explored this perhaps every 5 years for the past 20 years, I have always come away disappointed but this time it is different. You can not take courses from the world’s major universities – Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, MIT and more – for free. You can learn in courses that are taught by the best in the world and they are presented in ways that are refined, thoughtfully organized, with solid graphics and visual aids.
I encourage you to dig in and if you find something worthwhile, send me an email and let me know of the jewels you find.