Online Classes instead of Social Media and Shopping

Stop refreshing feeds. Refresh your MIND.

I am passionate about all the opportunities we now have to access education by taking classes take online.  (California is even proposing an all-online Community College!)This is technology that liberates us and enriches our lives.  It facilitates the kind of real world happiness ]social media's addiction enslavement distraction regularly thwarts.  I feel good spending money online for a class that teaches me and connects me with real kindred spirits, instead of ordering yet another spontaneous prime haul from Amazon.

You can take online classes for credit, or just for fun.  You can find classes for people of all ages including public school options for grades K-12 and online college degree programs for returning adult students.  You can enroll in certificate programs or audit world-class university courses.  You can even check out Great Courses from your public library.  Many of the classes are free, which brings cheer to my democratic, working-class heart.

Here are some of my favorite sources of online learning:

For Kids:

K12 Public Charter Schools 
When my daughter was miserable in the local brick and mortar school, we looked to an online homeschool solution as a stop-gap until we could figure out what to do next.  It turned out to be a better educational opportunity than we could have designed ourselves, with a great hybrid program of online as well as regular school classes.  Not only that, but the online program also includes boxes and boxes of physical books, art supplies and science equipment.  

At the time of this writing, my daughter is enrolled in her 8th year with her particular program.  The irony?  Even though she attends a hybrid virtual school, she spends less time online staring at devices than her neighborhood school peers whose classrooms have become increasingly iPad-oriented, and whose homework requirements involve hours at home in front of a computer.  (For a glimpse at one way too much tech can be bad for schools, read this.) 

If you have the flexibility and commitment to oversee an independent study option, I highly recommend K12.  Check it out if your child is bored, bullied or falling through the cracks in regular school.  The K12 curriculum is one of the best I've found.  
History, Literature and Art History courses are particularly good, and the Science and Math courses are fairly rigorous.  

Kahn Academy
Anyone who regularly helps their child with homework knows about this nonprofit godsend of a site.  But it's not just for kids!  I've taken several World History lessons at Kahn because I'm just that kind of a nerd.  The Pixar in a Box course is great for aspiring filmmakers of every age, too.

For Adults:

Enroll in EdX and choose from over 2000 FREE courses from 140 colleges and universities like MIT, Berkeley and Harvard.  I've taken about a dozen courses including the late Stan Lee's class on comic book history and the UT's comprehensive Jazz Appreciation Not only were the classes great, but I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other students.   

Nura Learning
Offering courses in things like Herbal Wisdom, New Thought and the Philosophy of Jean Gebser, Nura is truly unique.  The site hosts some truly fascinating thinkers, experts and historians. (Gary Lachman and Mitch Horowitz teach webinars at Nura.) It also attracts a pretty cool collection of students.  (I dare include myself among them.)  As I write this, I'm taking an Integral Cinema class which involves online, interactive watch parties with philosophical folks from all over the globe.  This is a great use of the Internet!

This is another excellent platform to access classes from prestigious learning institutions.  I took a wonderful course on Plato last year from University of Pennsylvania.  You will find business, personal development and IT courses, too.  (Please use the IT to make better tech!)

From hobbies to online degrees, FutureLearn offers a variety of courses from leading universities, business schools and specialists. I loved the free Screenwriting course I took there.  

Not only is this site a great resource for inexpensive classes on just about anything you want to learn, but it's also a great resource if you want to TEACH a course on just about anything you know.

Like Udemy, Skillshare offers hundreds of courses on a variety of subjects.  Click here to explore taking a class.  Click here to explore teaching one.

While I'm on the subject of teaching an online course, check out this list of other great platforms to help you do it.) 

If you are interested in online degree programs click here.

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