Things To Do On Vacation: Open University & MIT

Week Four: Things To Start Your New Year's Resolutions With

So languages aren't your thing. That's fine; there are other courses out there.

The Open University offers over 900 courses, completely free, to anyone anywhere in the world. Because the content is proposed and offered by the instructors, the selection depends on who is passionate enough to ramble about something for a semester for the sheer love of it, and is a bit grab-bag. Still, if you ever wanted academic courses in the speaking and uses of modern Welsh or the identification of Alzheimers, vCJD and other prion diseases, you could do worse.

One of the best US equivalents I know is MIT OpenCourseWare. Although these cannot be taken for actual credit (the Open University does offer for-pay certifications), MIT is pretty dedicated to making sure everyone can stuff things into their heads for their own satisfaction.  Being MIT, they tend towards the analytical side of things, and many of the courses available for perusal are specific investigations of things that the original students would have had a chance to view in person, e.g., the urban makeover of Mission Hill in Boston.

If you're willing to pay for a membership, SkillShare has courses on just about everything. In contrast to the university-based courses, SkillShare has an emphasis on classwork produced by people with practical experience. A lot of their audio and video editing courses, for instance, are taught bypeople who are already well-known for podcasts or vlogs, on which they handle all of their own production. Right now they're running a "2 months free!" special; if you watch a lot of YouTube series or listen to a lot of iTunes podcasts, you can almost certainly catch a few additional discount codes during their sponsor segments.

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