10 Tips to Awesome Online Classes You Can Take For Free

10 Tips to Awesome Online Classes You Can Take For Free

If you didn’t manage to register for the course in time, fear not. There are literally hundreds of free courses online — offered by some of the most prestigious universities in the world — that don’t require registration. We’ve picked out 10 that we think you’ll find particularly interesting, and included course descriptions and links to where you can watch or download them free of charge.

10. Darwin’s Legacy
Institution: Stanford
Taught By: Team taught; guest lecturers include leading scholars in fields ranging from anthropology, to religion, to literature, to biology.
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: “Light will be thrown…” With these modest words, Charles Darwin launched a sweeping new theory of life in his epic book, On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory opened eyes and minds around the world to a radical new understanding of the flora and fauna of the planet. Here, Darwin showed for the first time that no supernatural processes are necessary to explain the profusion of living beings on earth, that all organisms past and present are related in a historical branching pattern of descent, and that human beings fall into place quite naturally in the web of all life. Now, 150 years later and 200 years after Darwins birth, we celebrate the amazingly productive vision and reach of his theory. In this Fall Quarter course, we will meet weekly with leading Darwin scholars from around the country to learn about Darwins far-reaching legacy in fields as diverse as anthropology, religion, medicine, psychology, philosophy, literature, and biology. With such a broad reach across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, no wonder the theory of evolution by natural selection has been called the single best idea, ever.


9. Astrobiology and Space Exploration
Institution: Stanford
Taught By: Lynn Rotschild & guest lecturers the likes of SETI Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: Astrobiology asks: Where do we come from? Are we alone? Where are we going? This course gives an overview of the excitement of astrobiology and space exploration, from the origin of our own biofriendly universe to questions of the future of mankind both on Earth and beyond.

8. Descriptive Introduction to Physics
Institution: UC Berkeley
Taught By: Steven Edward Boggs
Available Via: iTunes U Video
Course Description: The most interesting and important topics in physics, stressing conceptual understanding rather than math, with applications to current events. Topics covered may vary and may include energy and conservation, radioactivity, nuclear physics, the Theory of Relativity, lasers, explosions, earthquakes, superconductors, and quantum physics.

7. Astronomy 001
Institution: Penn State University
Taught By: Scott Miller, Mercedes Richards and Stephen Redman
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: Astronomy 001, Section 005 is a web-based course, complete with online presentations, interactive media, and video demonstrations. This course covers everything from mankind’s first understanding of the heavens out to other planets, galaxies, and the edge of the known Universe!

6. Earth and Planetary Sciences
Institution: UC Berkeley
Taught By: Richard Allen
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: Introduction to earthquakes, their causes and effects. General discussion of basic principles and methods of seismology and geological tectonics, distribution of earthquakes in space and time, effects of earthquakes, and earthquake hazard and risk, with particular emphasis on the situation in California.

5. Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering
Institution: Yale
Taught By: W. Mark Saltzman
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: The course covers basic concepts of biomedical engineering and their connection with the spectrum of human activity. It serves as an introduction to the fundamental science and engineering on which biomedical engineering is based. Case studies of drugs and medical products illustrate the product development-product testing cycle, patent protection, and FDA approval. It is designed for science and non-science majors

4. Cognitive Science
Institution: UC Berkeley
Taught By: Richard Ivry
Available Via: iTunes U video
Course Description: This course will examine research investigating the neurological basis of cognition. Material covered will include the study of brain-injured patients, neurophysiological research in animals, and the study of normal cognitive processes in humans with non-invasive behavioral and physiological techniques such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

3. Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics
Institution: Yale
Taught By: Charles Bailyn
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: This course focuses on three particularly interesting areas of astronomy that are advancing very rapidly: Extra-Solar Planets, Black Holes, and Dark Energy. Particular attention is paid to current projects that promise to improve our understanding significantly over the next few years. The course explores not just what is known, but what is currently not known, and how astronomers are going about trying to find out.

2. Science, Magic and Religion
Institution: UCLA
Taught By: Courtenay Raia
Available Via: YouTube | iTunes U Video
Course Description: Professor Courtenay Raia lectures on science and religion as historical phenomena that have evolved over time. Examines the earlier mind-set before 1700 when into science fitted elements that came eventually to be seen as magical. The course also question how Western cosmologies became “disenchanted.” Magical tradition transformed into modern mysticisms is also examined as well as the political implications of these movements. Includes discussion concerning science in totalitarian settings as well as “big science” during the Cold War.

10 Awesome Online Classes You Can Take For Free

1. Animal Behavior
Institution: MIT
Taught By: Gerland Schneider
Available Via: iTunes U Audio
Course Description: Most of the major categories of adaptive behavior can be seen in all animals. This course begins with the evolution of behavior, the driver of nervous system evolution, reviewed using concepts developed in ethology, sociobiology, other comparative studies, and in studies of brain evolution. The roles of various types of plasticity are considered, as well as foraging and feeding, defensive and aggressive behavior, courtship and reproduction, migration and navigation, social activities and communication, with contributions of inherited patterns and cognitive abilities. Both field and laboratory based studies are reviewed; and finally, human behavior is considered within the context of primate studies.

This is a re-post from Robert T. Gonzales, for io9.com.

Top image via Kirsty Pargeter/Shutterstock; animalwallpapers.net; Reistlin Magere/Shutterstock
Astrobio image via Stanford’s Astrobiology Webpage; Observatory via holbox/Shutterstock; Cog Neuroscience via; animal behavior 

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