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Going to College via Tablet

My son will soon be a high school senior. So whenever he is willing to talk to his parents, we discuss where he wants to go and how he’s going to get there. I loved college. And he seems to be dreading it. So I’m jealous that he gets to go and I don’t. But since I have a job, car, house, and family I don’t think dropping everything to get a degree in Philosophy is in the immediate cards.

But that’s okay. I think I can fit some liberal arts in by cutting down on TV and email. All I really need is a laptop or tablet and a Web browser or iTunes U.

The secret, as in most things, is to have a plan. So I spent a few minutes this morning browsing around the Webernets. The result is a delightful course load that fits my schedule simply by upgrading some of my leisure time. I dropped the URLs for my courses onto my calendar so I have only to click or tap to go to school.

These classes are all free. You can find a course list that suits your hankerings by loading iTunes U (in iTunes on your iOS device) or by going directly to AcademicEarth, The Kahn Academy, or LiveMocha.

Here is my summer course list.

Drawing Class at Oxford

I can’t draw at all and have always meant to do something about that. This class looks perfect. The teacher is brilliant and has a charming accent, the class is based on one designed by Ruskin, and I don’t have to apply to art school. I can simply grab a cup of coffee on Sunday morning and sit down with a tablet and sketch pad. No one has to know how bad I am.


Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner at Yale

I studied literature at UC Berkeley and miss the time spent pouring over texts and thinking about what authors intended. I recently listened to a terrific audio book of The Sound and the Fury and longed for a course of fellow literature students to discuss it with. So for the next few weeks, I will go to bed early on Tuesday evenings to enjoy this survey of some of America’s greats in a course that tantalizingly promises “adult content and language.”

Physics at MIT

My daughter is suddenly enthralled with the laws of motion and fluid mechanics because of a science class she’s enjoying. If I’m going to keep up with the conversation around here I need a refresh! Professor Lewin’s class Physics I: Classical Mechanics at MIT to the rescue. He’s funny, gives visual demonstrations, and will soon have me moving past my daughter’s middle-school science class to more complex science. I hope.

A Language at LiveMocha

I haven’t studied a language since college but I hate traveling without knowing a single word of the local language. I’m going to Sweden next month. So it’s time for a crash course in Swedish! If I hurry, I might be able to say “hello,” “goodbye,” and “where’s the bathroom” before I get there.

Math at the Kahn Academy

Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3]: Part 2: http://youtu.be/lOIP_Z_-0Hs
Part 3: http://youtu.be/14-NdQwKz9w
Re: Pineapple under the Sea: http://youtu.be/gBxeju8dMho

Looking at my lineup, I see that I should really include a math class. But math? That seems like such a commitment. But idly considering abstract mathematical thought on a Friday over a glass of wine? That sounds quite doable. That brings me to the delightful Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant. Not only will it elevate my downtime to something that exercises my brain cells but it will inspire me to understand the genius in my garden, which is where I like to spend Saturday morning.