Learning by Avoiding Classes

avoiding class

Image courtesy of Fotalia

Learning by Avoiding Classes
| published Sept. 11, 2014 |

By Earl Perkins
Thursday Review features editor

It's time for you to start learning, and I don't want to hear any more excuses. You may receive thousands of free courses from leading universities and colleges worldwide, and numerous websites would be thrilled to help start your learning adventure.

Openculture.com allows access to 1,000 free courses from schools including Stanford, Yale, MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and Oxford, letting you download more than 30,000 hours of information directly to your computer or mobile device.

The audio and video lectures are easily accessible, often coming from iTunes, YouTube or university websites. If convenience is your issue, then use your cell phone or mp3 player for perusing online formats. Movies, language lessons, textbooks, ebooks, audio books, music, art and images are also readily available.

Coursera, OEDB.org, and Education Portal can also help guide you through these incredible opportunities. We're talking about K-12, astronomy, biology, business, chemistry, engineering, history, literature—you name it and it's probably available to you right now.

No fighting for seats in a huge auditorium with noisy neighbors bothering you, no sunflower seeds stuck to the seats, and no soft drinks or unmentionable liquids soaking into your books if you place them on the floor. Why do you think Netflix and Redbox have taken the world by storm?

The videos can even be slowed down or sped up, depending on your retention rate and ability to take notes. And you save thousands of dollars by not purchasing expensive textbooks that will be worthless upon completion of your studies.

Remember the humongous registration lines you navigated at school, and then, once you got to the front of the line, all that person really wanted to know was your social security number? Well, for some of you under a certain age, you may not remember those days. And that may be a sizeable clue concerning my age. Yes, I am familiar with the pith of the papyrus plant. But I digress.

Now granted, nothing in life is perfect. But the opportunity to learn far outweighs anything you might construe as negative. Lack of feedback from instructors may turn some people off, and then there's your inability to share your tragedies and triumphs with classmates in person. Or, for example, feeling abject fear when your writing assignment is graded by your peers.

And what about that irritating suck-up who constantly asks questions during the real lessons because he couldn't pay attention to the teacher? If these small irritations bother you that much, then put your life on hold and return to the halls of academia and all it offers. Just use your imagination to figure out who has a hangover and whether or not guys are picking up girls.

Of course, the philanthropy only extends so far, because most websites also offer courses for which students are charged. If you want credit, then apply for a Discover card.

It's mostly just for fun right now, but certificates and credits toward a degree are in the works, along with online proctoring to dissuade you cheaters. Now get out there and sign up for a class. After all, isn't exposure to knowledge supposed to be its own reward?

Related Thursday Review articles:

How a College Library Thrives in a Digital Age; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; April 18, 2014