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8 of the Most Interesting Online Courses That’ll Instantly Make You Feel Smarter

Kara Jillian Brown

Kara Jillian BrownApril 13, 2020

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When you’re spending most of your time indoors doing the same things with the same people, things can get pretty dull. And without having new any experiences (you know, aside from living in the midst of a pandemic), you might be feeling a bit dumber, too. If you’re looking to learn something new, online classes are the perfect place to start.

There are tons of free and interesting online courses on subjects ranging from The Health Effects of Climate change, to Writing for Social Media. Browse some interesting options below.

8 of the most interesting online courses to take for free

1. CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING

In this four-week class, offered by the University of Minnesota, you’ll learn how to think creatively and how to apply that creativity to any field. Through a series of creativity building exercises, short lectures, and readings, you’ll develop a better understanding of creativity. It’s recommended to spend four to six hours a week on the course material.

2. THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Harvard University offers this seven-week course on understanding how the current climate crisis impacts the health of people around the globe, but also how it directly affects you and your life. You’ll examine air quality, nutrition, infectious diseases, and human migration, to see how increases in greenhouse gases impact public health. The course requires three to five hours a week.

3. CODE YOURSELF! AN INTRODUCTION TO PROGRAMMING

This five-week course from the University of Edinburgh will teach you how to program in Scratch, an easy to use visual programming language. It also introduces you to the fundamental principles of computing and hot to think like a software engineer. You’ll spend between two and four hours each week on this course.

4. MOUNTAINS 101

Nature loves can dive deep into the (virtual) outdoors with this 12-week course offered by the University of Alberta. You’ll study the geological origins of mountains, how mountains change over time, and how they effect biodiversity and water cycles.  You’ll also explore the cultural significance of mountains to societies around the globe, how mountains are used and protected, and the the rapid changes they’re experiencing with climate change. You’ll spend three to five hours a week on the course.

5. QUANTUM MECHANICS FOR EVERYONE

Offered by Georgetown University, this four-week class is perfect for anyone interested in learning quantum theory. The course requires math no more complicated than square roots (don’t worry—calculators are allowed), and provides an introduction to quantum mechanics. It requires seven to 10 hours a week of effort.

6. WRITING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA

Whether you’re running social for your business, or just looking to expand your personal brand, writing for social media isn’t as easy as it seems. This four-week course from University of California, Berkley will teach you how to structure and write content that will deliver your messaging and engage your audiences while understanding what a reader needs and wants from your organization. You’ll spend three to five hours a week on class work.

7. Becoming an Entrepreneur

Learn from professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about how to become an entrepreneur in this six-week course. You’ll learn how to define your goals, identify business opportunities, perform market research and choose your target customer, design and test your offering, plan your business logistics, and pitch and sell to customers. Each week requires one to three hours of work.

8. THE ETHICS OF MEMORY

This three-week course from Brown University will teach you the ins-and-outs of memory. You’ll learn how memory was explored in 20th century literature, law, psychoanalysis, and pop culture. You’ll also explore why we should care about the ethical component of memory, how to distinguish history from memory and explore ways in which we memorialize history, and how to discover and interpret monuments to memory that surround you. The course takes two to three hours a week to complete.

These 11 fun classes are perfect to take when boredom strikes, and these five activities can spark joy even in quarantine,according to a joy specialist.

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