I’m an explorer of sorts. Instead of discovering unchartered territory, I seek the unknown. A former professional student, working student that is, I enjoyed the challenge of learning under pressure but never had time to delve into those topics that made me stop and think, hmm. I was unable to quench my curiosity; I could only suppress it. Then, prior to retiring, I stumbled upon the greatest exploration of all. On-line education. Free.
A morning news show, whose name I can’t recall, mentioned an on-line site that provided college level courses for free, Khan Academy. After ten years (and three degrees) of tuition payments and loans, for me this was akin to free money. A quick search on Wikipedia revealed that Khan is one of many MOOCs, massive on-line open courses, that provide the opportunity to gain familiarity in many fields. Finally, a means not to be left too far behind in a rapidly evolving world.
I soon enrolled through Coursera.org and took advantage of offerings at Duke, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, UNC Chapel Hill, Penn State, Ohio State, and Northwestern, to name a few. Some of my favorite courses:
- Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insight
- Internet History, Technology, and Security
- Energy, the Environment, and Our Future
- Human Trafficking
- Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- Law and the Entrepreneur
- Better Leader, Richer Life
- Copyright for Educators & Librarians
- Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health
- Sustainability of Food Systems: A Global Life Cycle Perspective
- Learning to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects
- Marine Megafauna: An Introduction to Marine Science Conservation
- Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence
- Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body is Telling Us
- The Meat We Eat
Caveat: The Meat We Eat led me to being a vegetarian. What you learn may impact your lifestyle.
Clearly, I’m hooked. And having fun. In some courses, I completed quizzes, tests, and papers. In others, I skipped those parts. Why stress when I only wanted to satisfy a base interest about a topic. Some course instructors had superb teaching skills, others caused me to drop a course. A bad experience is not enough for me to give up on tuition-free quality learning.
A word of warning to anyone who wishes to partake in my recent hobby. One of my sisters-in-law shares my love of learning. It’s been a while since she’s been enrolled in less than three courses at once. My eyes opened wide when she shared that one of her first courses was on nanotechnology. The subject seems so far beyond my knowledge of all things technology related. Then again, without the pressures of time and grade, I’ll add it to my list of future courses. Your list could get as long as mine.