After a long working career, it was glorious to simply not need to think all that much. For the first year, planning our next stop was about as much as we wanted to ponder. The freedom from job obligations was such a relief after decades of ‘the grind.’
Gradually there was unease with not living a more purpose-driven life. We remain vibrant and energetic so it was just a matter of time before we needed to redirect our minds to something more intellectually fulfilling. That yearning has been filled with a variety of global travel experiences, volunteering– and online learning.
An array of choices
In a relatively short time, there has evolved an inspiring array of choices for online classes about almost anything. From foreign languages to history to global economics, there are courses taught by some of the most prominent professors and topic experts in the world, many available at no charge.
Coursera started offering classes back in 2012. Founded by two Stanford University professors, it has become the primary tool for university-level online coursework.
After launching at no cost they’ve added fees for awarding college-level credit.
Most of us only want to audit these classes anyway which you can still do for no fee. When auditing a class you, unfortunately, will not be able to get your score for the final exam (oh well!).
For a modest annual fee, The Great Courses has a wide variety of subjects more tailored to life long learners. Founded by The Teaching Company in the ‘90s, it has expanded to include over 600 classes. These are not verbatim recreations of professor lectures and as a result, are more entertaining than what might be found elsewhere.
YouTube started out as an open platform that allows anyone to upload videos. Entertainment still drives most viewers launching a number of celebrity careers (are there any Justin Bieber fans out there?). It also has instructional videos for nearly any subject.
The language classes are particularly good and we use it regularly to refine our Spanish language skills. It’s also a great place to find guidance about how to repair anything from a toaster to your cellphone (if you dare). I used it recently to figure out how to repair a stuck key on my laptop computer. What a relief that it works again!
Similar to YouTube, Udemy allows anyone with a skill or subject knowledge to create courses and upload them.
Primarily targeted at professional adults, it’s great for anyone who wants to improve job skills.
We teach English online so it’s a great source for refining our knowledge of grammar.
It’s an open market platform so you’ll find both free and fee-based classes with nearly 70,000 to choose from.
For diehard geeks, we have Codecademy to satisfy the nerd inside us. Many people see learning how to create their own website or phone application as no different than learning another language. Web development and general coding skills are powerful ways to exercise your creative juices. Anyone with design experience knows the joy of creating something from nothing.
Online access to classes is an amazing way to stay mentally sharp, especially when you are traveling or don’t have access to a local library.
Let us know what you use to be an active learner and what topics have sparked your interest!