The Best Deal on the Internet

One of my objectives for this blog is to highlight all the great things that are accessible to seniors at minimal or no cost.  Having gone semi-retired in January I have had a four-day weekend every week. For me and I imagine many others we have lot of time on your hands. I love golf but not every day and it can be expensive. I refuse to veg out in front of the television for hours on end. Now that we are facing the Covid-19 epidemic, which has limited travel and many activities that are not compatible with social distancing, filling those idle hours is even more of a challenge.

My suggestion is turn to the internet. No, I am not suggesting Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. They will fry your brain quickly. I am talking about taking a class. Maybe two if you like, more specifically a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC. MOOCs are semester length classes, as presented on campus. They have been videotaped and offered to the masses who do not have the ways or means to attend a University. Some of the most respected schools participate. Yale, Harvard, University of Michigan, and MIT as well as dozens of others. The best part is most of them are free.

 The courses are offered on several platforms. MIT has classes directly on their own web site. Yale does as well. Many other institutions turn to a third-party site to host their offerings. Edx.org and Coursera.org are two of the most popular. Regardless of which platform you chose, the courses come complete with syllabus, reading list, pdfs of class handouts and usually any videos used in the actual classroom. The books are not free but generally available on Amazon. Although there is no interaction with a professor, there is often a virtual forum to exchange ideas with other students.  The main difference between the University and third-party sites is the school sites they show an entire lecture at once while the third party will break a lecture into 12-18-minute segments. The third-party sites also offer a certificate, for a price, and not all the courses are free, but most are.

There is no college credit offered for any MOOC, it is purely for self-enrichment. What is offered is amazing. You can take a finance course at Yale with Robert Shiller. There is an extremely popular computer science class with MIT, Introduction to Computer science and Programing in Python. Maybe astronomy, Shakespeare, psychology or an in depth look at the American Civil War with Professor Eric Foner at Columbia. I completed the Philosophy of Death class with Professor Shelly Kaplan at Yale which was fascinating. On Edx.org you can also find courses by Microsoft and get instruction on Excel and Power Point. No matter what your interest I am sure there is something for you.

Lastly if the college classes are more than you are ready for, or you may need to brush up on your algebra to help a grandchild with homework. Khan Academy is another valuable resource that focuses more on primary and high school level work. Khan Academy was founded by Salman (Sal) Khan in 2008. It was one of the first and most important platforms for online education. According to Andrew Ng a Stamford AI researcher Khan was a huge inspiration to the MOOC movement.

Please email me @ gene@lifebymcgeno.com if you have any questions or comments.

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