Learn more about...learning more - Word&Way

Learn more about…learning more

Whether good or bad, school experiences impact most everyone’s life. Many choose to return to college and pursue a degree.

One factor that can help a return to college is the emergence of online classes, especially as they gain status as a viable option. A 2014 MIT study found that online classes really do work, even for the least prepared (newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/study-shows-online-courses-effective-0924).

Maybe you have the desire to deepen your knowledge – or learn something entirely new. If you aren’t interested in going back to college, what are some other options?

Ken SatterfieldKen SatterfieldFree online courses. From their introduction at the beginning of this decade, by the end of 2014 there were 2,400 courses offered through more than 400 universities in 13 languages, according to Class Central (tinyurl.com/MOOC-classes).

These Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are often free, and many are self-paced. Very often the class size is in the thousands. Class Central (class-central.com) has an aggregated list. Or investigate providers listed at class-central.com/providers. The biggest three providers are Coursera.org, edX.org and Udacity.com.

Evaluate MOOCs by asking: Is a class free? Is it a college-level course? What university is offering it? Who is teaching it? Are there graded assignments?

Also evaluate class choices. If you are looking to change jobs, determine if the class will help you. What is the schedule? Is it possible to reach the professor?

Smart videos. Many sites offer useful and thought-provoking videos.

TED Talks are designed to share ideas. More than 2,000 courses can be found at ted.com/talks. Many of these can be viewed on Netflix and other services.

YouTube is more than grumpy cat videos. It offers many educational channels of videos such as FORA.tv (youtube.com/user/ForaTv) for sharing ideas, Make Magazine (youtube.com/user/makemagazine) for DIY projects and Vsauce (youtube.com/user/Vsauce) for questions like “what if everyone jumped at once?”

Learn a skill. Rather than string theory, maybe you want to learn to whistle or make something. Bible helps are at BibleStudyTools.com, Bible.com, BibleVerses.com (for the visually impaired) and BibleGateway.com. DuoLingo (duolingo.com) can help you learn a language, free. Guides and do-it-yourself content can be found at eHow.com and wikiHow.com and other sites listed at technobuzz.net/31-how-to-sites.

Don’t let the Internet cause you to overlook what’s available at your public and church libraries, through a mentor or with a magazine subscription.

Ken Satterfield is marketing coordinator for Word & Way. This is an expanded version of the original print article.