How to learn anything online?

Last time I wrote about some of my favorite learning and brain training resources, now it’s time to check out some learning platforms for more specific knowledge.

Again, I know this is not for everyone, I acknowledge those who are busier than ever this time around and hate these kinds of posts, please bare with me (although the sources in my previous post about learning how to learn could be useful for teaching kids too). But then, some of us are stuck at home with more time on our hands than usual, for whom reading, writing, learning or being creative in any way is simply a coping mechanism these days. If you know what I mean, read along.

They say anyone can learn anything in the age of the internet. And it really is true, name anything you want to learn that you can’t find information, a tutorial video or maybe a full online training about. (I see how you could beat me with this, but I won’t take it back, just try! Name something, anything and leave a comment below.) If there is a subject that you’re interested in, but not enough so to pay for a formal training you could just have a taste with a free online course. Or, if you are a student and can’t decide which subject to major in, you just take a course in the topic (if you’re lucky you can take it at the same university you attend/want to attend) and try it. Or, if you consider learning a hobby and like to study many different areas, why not do just that?

On a different, but not completely unrelated note, do you know who else likes to learn things as a hobby? Shakira! Apparently, she’s been taking philosophy classes of the University of Pennsylvania in her spare time the past few weeks. She is taking the same free online courses you could take from your apartment any day.

I first came to know about MOOCs (massive open online courses) about a year after I finished law school and started to really miss learning. I was an adult by then and I’ve been learning since age six or so, so I just really missed it. I started seeking opportunities to learn stuff, and I’ve never stopped since. The first course I’ve taken was Harvard’s famous legal philosophy course, Justice on edX and it was so good I just went on and on for more. In some sense you have the vibe of a real university class without leaving your apartment* (*at that point not having to leave the apartment somehow seemed desirable, I know we are all over that phase now).

So, my favorite platforms for learning online, that also happen to be the most popular are edX and Coursera. They basically work on the same principal – offer courses from universities all over the world. You can take them for free, but there are also specializations that you can sign up for to receive a diploma/certificate for a certain price. I also mention these first, because I find that these platforms have the most law/humanities courses available. I took a few international law/international relations courses, as that’s what I am particularly interested in, but you can find many specific legal areas that maybe you didn’t pay attention to in law school and want to learn about now. But you can also decide to study something completely different like programming or mathematics, because why not?

Also useful are the MOOC search engines like Open Culture, that organizes the courses of top universities by starting date (many universities offer online courses on their own websites) and you can find several legal topics as well and My MOOC, where you can search different MOOC platforms’ offerings by topic.

I hope if you weren’t a learning enthusiast yet, this made you interested in the world of MOOCs. Have you ever taken a MOOC before? Which are your favorite platforms? What kind of experiences did you have? Or did you pick something to learn now? Let me know in the comments (or on Twitter or LinkedIn if those are your thing).

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