Cyber Schooling


So I’ve gone back to school. I’m taking classes at Yale, Oxford, and Stanford. Amazing, right?

Thankfully, it’s part of iTunes U’s free courses. I’ve dipped my toe into Apple’s pool of university course offerings before, but these days it seems to have expanded substantially.

That must be the "free online course that usually costs a few grand" button. Or FOCTUCAFG button for short.

That must be the “get a free online course that usually costs a few grand” button. Or GAFOCTUCAFG button for short.

And what, you might ask with feverish interest, am I studying? Well, I did a fair bit of philosophizin’ back in college (six years ago; wow, I’m getting old), so I’ve started two Yale philosophy courses–one on the concept of Death and whether we live on after it, and the other on the philosophy and science of human nature. I’m also studying iPhone development thanks to Stanford as well as business development course courtesy of Oxford.

Most offer videos of professors lecturing–which is about as close as I’ll ever get to seeing the inside of Yale–and course materials are sometimes included, but even if they’re not, it’s fairly easy to track down the texts on ye olde interwebs. I’m even spacing out my courses to mimic my old schedule: I attend each class twice a week on alternating days.

The best part? I don’t have to write any of the papers the professors assign, and every once in awhile I catch a glimpse of the poor students who do and laugh at their caffeine overloaded study nights. But I do get to learn.

A lot.

That these courses are offered free is mindblowingly awesome, and I get to develop in-demand skills that would normally cost thousands to learn. (iPhone development in particular. I’ve already made an app based on that old PBS show Ghostwriter. Word!)

So, dear readers, if you could take a free online course, what would you want to learn? 



9 comments on “Cyber Schooling

  1. Good for you, Mike! I love what you are doing. I think the course on what happens after you die would be fascinating. (Will you let me know when you get to the end? Of the course, I mean.)

    One of the reasons I love to travel is because I’m always learning about history and culture. I love the kind of science as I can get from a Nova program. I want to know all about dinosaurs and discoveries in outerspace, innerspace, or ancient culture and history. Fun facts!
    I enjoyed the National Geographic series “Guns, Germs, and Steel” and was happy to sit back and watch and learn. The book was interesting, but I din’t get past the first three or four chapters. This made me realize that I prefer overviews (like a lecture), until I find something that really grabs me, such as the Norman Conquest. I have read volumes on the Norman Conquest, and wrote a historical novel about it. As soon as I finish my current writing project, I will be diving into another period of history for a year or two.

    Was it difficult to sign up? Do you tune in at the same time every week, or catch up by downloading a lecture when you have time? I’m very curious about how it works.

    • I love history and culture too, which is why I hope to travel more some day (maybe even upload some awesome pictures like you 🙂 ).

      I know what you mean about getting an overview first. That’s why I love documentaries and science shows so much (Through the Wormhole is a great; it introduces you to great concepts that you can explore in depth whenever you want).

      As for iTunes U, you simply search by category (literature, science, history, etc.) and choose which course you want to watch/listen to. You can download the videos for your own personal collection or stream it on your pc. The class lectures are available all at once, but I space it out so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

      The only sign up you need is your AppleID, which you probably already have if you used iTunes before. You should definitely check it out. I’m kind of addicted since there’s so much good info on there. If you do decide on a course, let me know!

  2. That is mindblowingly amazing. I must check the courses offered. I think philosophy and psychology are both fascinating subjects. I must check some of these out. Thanks for the share, Mike! Epic 🙂

  3. OMG, you need to patent the idea of a Ghostwriter app ASAP! What does it do- solve minor mysteries of hipsters- such as what flannel goes well with beards?

    I hate to say it, but I’ve gotten closer to the Ivy League than you. I changed my tampon in Harvard. And then, out of sheer excitement, I called my dad ASAP to tell him and had to of course censor it (him not having or knowing what ovaries are), telling him that I pooped in Harvard. It was his proudest moment.

    Anyway, be careful with those philosophy classes. That sh*t should come with disclaimers: may cause immobilizing existential crises.

  4. Anthropology, Archaeology, Sociology, Comparative Religion, Ancient History, Literature of the Ancient World, and so on. Many of these I have taken a class in, but I would like more and more in-depth classes. Work will pay for classes. But only if I study business, paralegal, accounting, or insurance courses. Not really what I’m really interested in.

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