With the increasing cost of going to college, many people are looking for different options for education and training. There are many reasons to pursue additional education, whether you are looking to switch careers, hone your skills in your particular specialization or you simply enjoy learning for its own sake.
Online courses are a great option for individuals who cannot afford the time and money of traditional higher education. These courses are substantially cheaper, much more flexible with scheduling and you have access to more prestigious institutions than you might in your location. If you are exploring the idea of online education, a great place to start is The Great Courses Plus. There are many factors to weigh before choosing the best online course and online course provider. Here is an in-depth look at The Great Courses Plus, as well as some common questions surrounding online education. There are also a few competitors to compare with this online course provider.
What Is The Great Courses Plus?
The Great Courses Plus is a subscription-based online course provider that aims to provide you with the most professional teachers, professors and experts in a large variety of fields. Whether you want to study under National Geographic photographers or world-renowned chefs from the Culinary Institute of America, The Great Courses Plus has courses for you. Each of their instructors comes from various educational institutions that represent the top 1% of academia in the United States.
How Does It Work?
The courses are on-demand streaming videos that you can take at your own pace. There are also audio versions, which are particularly useful to listen to while commuting. The courses do not have any tests or homework, which is gratifying for anyone with test anxiety. All of the classes are organized by topic, allowing you to discover your interests or broaden your knowledge base.
You can start and halt the learning session as you feel. Courses range from a single lecture to over 30 sessions. Each lecture compares closely to the length of average TV episodes, usually 30-45 minutes each. They are a great way to supplement your existing studies as well.
How Much Does It Cost?
The Great Courses Plus is a subscription-based service, so you pay a monthly rate regardless of the number of lectures you watch. They are now offering a free trial. You can sign up and receive 14 days free. After the trial, there are two ways to subscribe. You can pay for a monthly subscription, which costs $19.99 per month. Or, if you are looking for a good deal, there’s a 25% off discount if you subscribe yearly. The yearly subscription will only cost you $14.99 each month.
It is entirely up to you whether The Great Courses Plus is a good deal or not. If you plan on taking many courses and binge-watch the lectures, this would be a great deal. If, on the other hand, you aren’t sure how many courses you will be interested in, or if you are taking the subscription for a single course, then a monthly subscription might be the best deal for you. Browse through the online catalogue. Select the topics that interests you and plan how many courses you might participate in. Bear in mind that the curriculum plan is constantly adding new classes.
What Are the Best Courses?
If there are too many interesting courses to choose from, take a look at this buyer’s guide. These courses come highly rated, both by professional reviewers and public comments. The Great Courses Plus has a rating system, so each member has the opportunity to evaluate each course with 1-5 stars. They can also give comments and feedback. This feedback plays a critical role in the development and selection of new classes. These top-rated courses have been chosen based on customer feedback, how relevant and engaging the courses are and the opinion of several professional reviewers. With this in mind, be sure to check out these fascinating courses that are just a small sampler of what The Great Courses Plus has to offer.
Life Lessons From Great Books
Professor J. Rufus Fears dives into some of the most influential books in western civilization. As a master storyteller, he brings these ancient and sometimes inaccessible books to life. The lectures start with Seneca and end with Theodore Roosevelt. The course is as insightful as it is engaging, and is a great choice for anyone interested in philosophy, history or understanding some forces that helped shape modern America. J. Rufus Fears received his Ph.D. from Harvard and is an award-winning professor at the University of Oklahoma.
The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal
If business, politics or interpersonal communication fascinate you, this course is a perfect choice. It is taught by Professor Seth Freeman, who is an experienced corporate lawyer who received his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The course deals with all kinds of negotiating, from high-stakes business transactions to negotiating with children.
There are lectures dealing with cross-cultural issues in bargaining, as well as developing credibility. These courses are generally highly rated and highly informational. However, there are some lectures that are more informational than engaging. The communication style can be a bit more serious and difficult to follow than some other courses.
Mind-Body Medicine: The New Science of Optimal Health
A holistic approach to health, wealth and science-based medicine. This fascinating course covers topics as introductory as basic personality types, then to the more complex like the biopsychosocial braid. Anxiety, resilience and cognitive functions are just a few other topics in this 36-lecture course. The course is taught by Professor Jason M. Satterfield, who has received nominations for a number of teaching recognitions at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also a popular instructor on The Great Courses Plus, so if you like this course be sure to check out other courses by Professor Satterfield.
The 23 Greatest Solo Piano Works
If you are looking for something just as inspiring, but not quite so intellectually challenging, try this fascinating and fun course. Professor Robert Greenberg, who is a Music Historian-in-Residence with San Francisco Performances, will guide you through the most exquisite and masterful piano solos ever written. Pieces range from the popular and well-known composers like Mozart and Beethoven, but also include some you may not be as familiar with, such as Scriabin and Ravel.
If you enjoy music, art or simply want to experience someone at the height of their profession, this course is a great choice. Because the lectures in this course are designed to be stand-alone and not necessarily viewed in order, some of Professor Greenberg’s comments will seem repetitive. This is particularly noticeable if you plan on binge-watching the entire course.
Customs of the World
Whether you are a world traveler, or your idea of world traveling usually involves a laptop and a foreign film, this is the course for you. This course not only highlights the unique traditions and customs seen throughout the world, but it also uncovers the hidden themes that bring countries together or separate them culturally. Some examples include collectivism, individualism, expressiveness, time and risk avoidance.
After viewing the basic elements that help define culture and customs, several cultural groups are used to show examples of different traditions around the world. Professor David Livermore, who is the president at the Cultural Intelligence Center at Michigan State University, uses his cultural training and first-hand experience to guide you through various customs and help you avoid a faux pas in almost every part of the world.
Dog Training 101
If your furry friend is a penchant for a few new tricks, try this fun filled and informational course. Professor Jean Donaldson, the founder of the Academy for Dog Trainers, provides her expert training in this 24-lecture course. This is a course that suits all types of dogs and dog owners. There are lectures dealing with old and young dogs, as well as specific tips about impulse control, barking and hygiene. Taking care of your dog or dogs can be a lot of work, so these tips are invaluable for anyone who has a dog in their home. The videos are engaging and provide great visual examples of all of the tips and tricks.
The Power of Mathematical Visualization
This well-rated course has a unique take on the field of mathematics. This course, mainly designed for visual learners, can help you see math in a new light. A set of 24 lectures will take you through a variety of mathematical problems and shed new light on each one. Professor James Tanton is the Mathematician Resident at the Mathematical Association of America. He provides an expert’s eye and helps uncover some of the more confounding principles using these unique strategies.
Law School for Everyone
Whether you knew it or not, law school can indeed be for everyone. Four highly successful lawyers teach this fascinating course, and it takes you through everything you need to know for an introductory course in law. Lectures cover many different facets of a trial, criminal law and other civil procedures. This course is highly engaging and is taught by professionals who are capable of conveying their passion for the subject matter. It’s a great starter for someone interested in law school or someone who wants to learn a few new things about law.
What Are the Cons?
There are, of course, some downsides to a subscription with The Great Courses Plus. First, because it is a subscription-based approach, you won’t receive a discount if you participate in fewer courses during a month. The bargain price is only a bonus if you plan on watching many classes, but it can be expensive if you are only an occasional viewer. Second, the courses are designed to either supplement your education, or provide pleasurable knowledge as a lifelong learner. They do not offer any tests, measures of achievement, diplomas or certificates. While you will learn a great deal about the different subject matter, you will have to find other ways to prove that knowledge during your job interview.
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Are There Other Online Courses?
There are dozens of competitors with very similar approaches. Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are growing immensely popular. Some competitors offer free courses; others offer certificates and tests. Below are just two competitors to compare with The Great Courses Plus.
This company provides a great deal of online courses that are free to use. You can pay for a verified certificate after completion. These courses tend to be focused more towards academic subjects and make use of tests. There are even certain courses that allow you to earn college credit. Many of the classes are much less engaging than The Great Courses Plus content. However, if you are looking for a free course from an Ivy League school, then EdX might be a good option for you.
Similar to EdX, this company provides free courses that are from a top-ranking institution. After completing the course, you have the option to pay for a certificate of completion. Coursera however, is not as self-paced as The Great Courses Plus. Coursera’s content uses tests and projects. Once you begin a course, you are given deadlines to complete the projects. If you do not meet the deadlines, you can still view the lectures at your own pace; however, the certificate will no longer be available to you. While top-ranking professors give these courses, the content feels less engaging. The classes are often just recorded lectures, with less visual aids than other online courses.
If you are looking for a great way to continue your studies, but aren’t willing to pay the costs of a new degree, consider The Great Courses Plus. It is an excellent study aid if you are struggling to grasp a certain concept. Or, if you are a passionate lifelong learner, these lectures are fascinating vignettes into the world around you. The subscription-based service encourages you to watch as many lectures as you’d like, without the pressure of tests, exams and papers. Although there are competitors with similar services, few can match the quality, variety and convenience of The Great Courses Plus.