20 New Open Courses We Can’t Wait to Take

Open courseware has really begun to hit its stride, and there’s never been a better time to for students of all ages, locations, and interests to find a class that scratches their intellectual itch. 2013 will see a host of new offerings from both the big-name MOOC providers and universities just starting to dip their toes into the waters of OCW. Of this new crop, these 20 courses are the ones we can’t wait to get our hands on.

  1. “Survey of Music Technology” with Jason Freeman:

    Any prof that uses the FAQ section to answer what the coolest thing we’ll learn from the course is has our attention. In this case, the intriguing answer is “How to make a computer listen.” In August, Georgia Tech computer music researcher and composer promises to give students an introduction to acoustics, spectral analysis, digital sound processing, and more.

  2. “How to Build a Startup” with Steve Blank:

    This open enrollment course has been available just a few months now, and it’s one the entrepreneur in us is totally stoked about taking. Veteran of eight Silicon Valley startups Steve Blank brings his patented Customer Development process and 21 years of experience to the Web to help budding CEOs get a new enterprise off the ground.

  3. “The Challenges of Global Poverty” with Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo:

    This dynamic duo from MIT’s economics department is the brains behind Poor Economics, a book that’s been called Freakonomics for the billion people living in extreme poverty. We think six hours a week is not too much to ask to see how the other half lives and learn what we can do to help their circumstances.

  4. “TechniCity” with Jennifer Evans-Cowley and Tom Sanchez:

    Metropolis is how our great-grandparents’ generation imagined future technology; we now know there’s much fewer levers and steaming pipes. But as we’d like to know more about what’s on the horizon for the cities of tomorrow, these two urban planning experts offer what’s sure to be a fascinating glimpse of the future. We’re hoping they can tell us where to find the best free wi-fi, too.

  5. “Developmental Math” with Wake Technical Community College:

    Frankly, we’re not dying to retake pre-algebra; three times was enough (just kidding). But we are willing to dust off our knowledge of integers, factors, coordinate planes, and all that good stuff to support the first community college in the nation to offer a MOOC. The North Carolina school is poised to spread open courseware into yet another area of higher ed, and we’d be honored to be part of it.

  6. “Justice” with Michael J. Sandel:

    We’re kind of cheating with this one, as this incredibly popular Harvard course has been available for some time on the Web. However, it’s a new addition to edX, the MIT/Harvard open education platform, and it’s definitely worth your time. Come with an open mind and a willingness to rethink your beliefs on same-sex marriage, affirmative action, income distribution, and other juicy topics.

  7. “The Emancipation Proclamation: What Came Before, How It Worked, And What Followed” with Matthew Holden, Jr. and Gwen Jordan:

    We don’t know about you, but Lincoln got us on a total Honest Abe kick. And although the movie was much more accurate than biopics often are, this class from the University of Illinois Springfield should give us a clear picture of whatever facts Steven Spielberg fudged.

  8. “The Ancient Greek Hero” with Gregory Nagy:

    Don’t worry, lovers of the arts; not every open course is intended for people with pocket protectors. Even those who don’t know Orpheus from Theseus are invited along on this journey back to the time of gods and monsters, as Harvard’s Professor Nagy dives into selected works of Homer, Plato, and Philostratus.

  9. “HTML5 Game Development” with Colt McAnlis and Peter Lubbers:

    When Steve Jobs wrote off Adobe Flash as no longer necessary for playing videos, HTML5 is where he said the future lies. McAnlis and Lubbers, two Google Chrome development guys, will show us how to use the programming language to create cutting-edge games and apps.

  10. “Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation” with Umesh V. Vazirani:

    We would not be excited about this course if not for Prof. V.’s written assurance that it’s, and we quote, “broadly accessible.” Which means even hopelessly science-challenged folks like us can stumble around the grounds Werner Heisenberg (Breaking Bad, anyone?) and Albert Einstein once tread.

  11. “Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights” with Jamie Pope:

    In the trailer for this course, Vanderbilt dietitian Pope (more or less) asks if we’re confused by news reports, nurse advice, supplement bottles, and food products about just what the heck we’re supposed to eat? The answer is emphatically yes, yes, and yes. That’s why we’re looking forward to feasting on the nuggets of food wisdom she puts on our plate.

  12. “Interactive Rendering” with Eric Haines:

    We’re going to get right on learning a programming language so that we can jump into this course taught by Autodesk engineer Eric Haines. He’ll show us the ins and outs of creating computer graphics in three dimensions, which trumps the two we get by just using marker on the screen.

  13. “Copyright” with William Fisher III:

    Protecting the rights to their work is probably the most pressing issue facing creative people today. This course will use real-time online seminars and webcasts to show artists and content creators how to proceed in 2013 and beyond. And even though we metaphorically can’t wait to take this one, we’ll literally have to because only 500 lucky lifelong learners were let in after an application process. Going to have to give you a yellow card for that one, edX; open courses shouldn’t be closed!

  14. “Social Psychology” with Scott Plous:

    Over $1,000 worth of educational material regarding social psychology will be yours (and ours) to access with this stimulating course led by Wesleyan University professor Scott Plous. Plus, we’ll have a built-in excuse to “experiment” on our friends and family members with new ways of thinking and acting: it’s homework!

  15. “Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative” with Jay Clayton:

    Granted, the promo video has us a touch worried that Clayton is calling it Worlds of Warcraft, but we can forgive that for the promise of a class devoted to studying the convergence of classic literature like Lord of the Rings and timeless stories and themes with the booming video game industry.

  16. “Songwriting” with Pat Pattison:

    After a while, your loved one gets tired of hearing you rhyme “love” with “above” and “glove” and “clove” (hey, it’s a slant rhyme). Pattison has taught Grammy winners at Berklee College of Music and he claims each of us has a songwriter lurking inside us. We’re skeptical, to say the least, but we can’t wait to see him prove us wrong.

  17. “Sports and Society” with Orin Starn:

    It’s probably safe to call Professor Starn the country’s leading sports anthropologist. From his home base of Duke University, his blog Golf Politics, and appearances on ESPN and other major outlets, Starn gives Americans a new perspective into the gentleman’s game and other sports. He warrants that after taking his course, we’ll never look at sports the same way again.

  18. “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets” with Susan E. Alcock:

    We wanted to be archeologists after we saw Indiana Jones swashbuckling on the silver screen. Then we grew up and learned that wasn’t exactly a realistic portrayal. But what is the real story of being an archeologist? Brown University’s Susan Alcock is here to reignite that passion we once had for discovering peoples and cultures from the past.

  19. “Useful Genetics” with Rosemary Redfield:

    In the summer of 2012, Dr. Redfield made waves with a paper calling for a new way of teaching genetics, namely one that students can use in today’s world. Taking to heart the saying “Be the change you want to see in the world,” the neon-coiffed University of British Columbia prof has launched “Useful Genetics” for anyone interested in the role genes play in their own lives or society as a whole.

  20. “The Science of Gastronomy” with King Chow, Lam Lung Yeung:

    If their endearingly cheesy promo video is any indicator, these two profs from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology should make for fun instructors on the science of cuisine. We’re not sure if they want to be comedians, chefs, or chemists, but we look forward to finding out.

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