A quick review of online college courses convinces an individual that, in this day and age, continuous education is not only a heartfelt recommendation but approaching the status of moral imperative. Available just a click away, with most of them offering an experience that is as lifelike as is humanly possible, they are for everyone: the ex-troubled teenager that rebelled against his parents and the system, the stay-at-home mom that whose kids have grown up in a blink of an eye, the alienated thirty-something with too much time on his/her hands.
In compiling this list, we have taken into consideration online college courses from ten different fields – ranging from the arts and humanities to personal development – and selected what we thought was the one that would benefit individuals either for a better understanding of today’s world or by learning a new skill that is relevant to the job market.
10 Top Online College Courses for 2016
1. The Modern World, Global History since 1910 (Arts and Humanities)
This course is definitely a mandatory one for all political history buffs and not only them. Modeled on a course at the University of Virginia taught by distinguished professor Philip Zelikow, it is divided into 7 sections or weeks, starting June 6th, and costs $49 to enroll. The most tumultuous century of history features several essential themes – the crisis of the empires that led to WW I, the seemingly perpetual progress of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and the rise of totalitarianisms, WW II, the reconstruction and the Cold War, ideological thawing and end of Communism, finishing up with the novel theocracies and nationalisms in the Age of Terror. While it certainly doesn’t exhaust the 20th century, this course is excellent introductory material.
2. Search Engine Optimization (Business Courses)
The category may be misleading for some, yet two things are definitely true: SEO is a skill for both the present and the future and it is a field that is becoming more sophisticated and influential by the day. This one is actually a bundle of 6 courses designed by the University of California at Davis. The overall cost is $426 (you also have the option of purchasing on a single course basis at $79 per course) and it stretches for about three months. There is an introductory module, followed by a presentation of the fundamentals of SEO, a practical endeavor of optimizing an actual website, advanced techniques and strategies, social media implications and a final exam in which you will put all that you have accumulated in action in the real, digital world.
3. Web Design for Everybody (Computer Science)
4. Master Statistics (Data Science)
As more and more data engulf us, whatever the line of work we are in, specializing in the organization and interpretation of it sounds like a very useful undertaking. This package of statistics courses outlined by four experts from Duke University costs $355, or $79 for each one of its five constituents. After getting basic probabilities and elementary Bayesian notions duly assimilated, the concepts start to get complicated while waltzing through inferential statistics, linear regression and advanced Bayesian theory. It is all rounded off with an exam consisting of practical applications, with the choice of subject left at the student’s inclination.
5. Music as Biology (Life Sciences)
The material for this course is organized by Duke University’s Emeritus Professor of Brain Sciences, Dale Purves, a giant of his field. Why do humans enjoy and even sometimes crave music? For a bargain of $49, you will delve deep into the relationship between music, emotions and biology. From the primitive dialogue between the brain and sound stimuli to more sophisticated perceptions of musical scales and right down to the cultural influence different societies impose on its members, this course definitely has the power to fascinate even the most skeptical of empiricists. It touches the impact different musical developments (from Mozart to Schoenberg and proponents of atonality) have had over our tastes, chronologically.
6. Introduction to Logic (Math and Logic)
One of the oldest intellectual pursuits (at least in the Western World) continues to fascinate and maintain its relevance well into the 21st century. The syllabus has been compiled by an associate professor at Stanford and requires a pre-existing familiarity with high school-level mathematics. Starting with the review of the fundamental concepts of logic (propositions, syntax or semantics), it delves deeper into the field by analyzing complex relationships between propositions or the evolution of universally-applicable logical processes such as deduction and induction.
7. Academic English (Personal Development)
This five-module program created by Tamy Chapman from the University of California, Irvine is probably one of the most popular online college courses. As it has no pre-requisites, except a basic mastery of English, and promises to transform your writing in 4 to 6 months, in order to successfully complete college-level assignments. The whole program costs $310 or $69 per course and aims to teach the student the proper techniques of researching and delivering a sophisticated essay with impeccable style, grammar, and punctuation.
8. The Evolving Universe (Physical Science and Engineering)
This five-week course has been organized by renowned Caltech astronomy professor Stanislav Djorgovski for a few years now and has a sustained popularity. You will learn about the building blocks of the universe, and astronomy as a science – from a bit of history of the field to how telescopes and more advanced space tracking instruments work, the workings of the solar system and its relationships to the other components of our galaxy, all the way to modern speculation about the reaches and future of the universe, the place where astronomy and philosophy intersect.
9. Classical Sociological Theory (Social Sciences)
This introduction to sociology from the University of Amsterdam reviews all the major theories of social development from the start of serious inquiry on the subject in the 18th century until the first half of the 20th century when sociological theory began to heavily incorporate concepts and methods from other social sciences. The 8-week course that is available for just $49 will definitely transform your manner of looking at society and the evolution of social phenomena in different times and spaces. You will familiarize yourself with the concepts of Adam Smith, Karl Marx or Max Weber; titans of social thought whose explanations still hold a high degree of relevance in the 21st century.
10. Introduction to Linguistics (Language Learning)
Speech and language are definitely the most important human development since the dawn of our species. This course, which has been created by Leiden University aims to teach its students the miracles of human language and the elementary techniques of analyzing it, both as a functional and culturally-dependent instrument. By completing this program you will become acquainted with such key concepts as phonology, phonetics, morphology, syntax and semantics. Furthermore, there is a lecture on how language has been developed and ingrained in the brain from a biological perspective.
The number of online college courses is always increasing and along with the number, the rise in quality also makes them more appealing. It is safe to say that at one point in the not-too-distant future all universities will have online variants of their actual programs. What should also be considered is that your chief concern, is it a thirst for knowledge or an easier way of completing a series of bureaucratic procedures?
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