For those of us who toil in offices, the idea of actually, you know, learning about a subject or figuring out how to actually do something other than Facebook or Minesweeper becomes increasingly intimidating and remote the more time we spend in our cubicles. Thank goodness for all the new online educational opportunities that don’t cost a dime — and require only a little time.
Created and completely taught (along with cousin Nadia) by MIT grad and former financial analyst Salman Khan, Khan Academy is a not-for-profit educational YouTube-stored video website that will make your traditional college experience, for which you’re still paying off the debt, seem like a sham. Heavy on math and science — you can learn about mean value theorems and weak acid titrations — Khan also offers very strong analyses of economic theory and financial investing, as well as compelling overviews of U.S. history and foreign policy and European history. (khanacademy.org)
The single most important online educational project in the state of the Nevada is the UNLV Libraries Digital Collections. This collection of images, audio and video interviews and documents provides a crash course in Vegas and Nevada history. The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project is a definitive account — combining interviews with military officers, test site workers, protesters and native people — of the Cold War facility that employed more than 125,000 people. (digital.library.unlv.edu)
Make is a quarterly print magazine (and e-zine) with an online presence at that is second to none — podcasts, blogs, forums and videos. The latter teach you how to homebrew beer, fashion reflective pocket flaps for your pants for nighttime bicycling, and build a junction box stash spot to hide valuables in your house. Basically, all the really cool things your high school shop teacher never bothered to show you can be found here. (makezine.com)
Las Vegas Springs Preserve’s YouTube channel is mostly enjoyable propaganda. But there’s one series called Springs Cuisine wherein Springs Café chefs offer cooking tips and recipes that are easy to follow. Whether you’re learning the secret behind braised lamb (osso bucco) or how to prepare a quick, easy, healthy meal of seared halibut with a tomato and fennel vinaigrette, this free culinary resource is a must-see. (youtube.com/SpringsPreserve)
As I write this, I’m also watching a fascinating lecture by Harvard prof Michael Sandel discuss “The Moral Side of Murder” and “The Case for Cannibalism” courtesy of iTunes U. Stanford, Yale, Oxford and UC Berkeley along with 800 other universities now distribute their vast and powerful course lectures free to the public via iTunes. While the production quality varies, every single, crystal-clear video I’ve seen has great audio and, more significantly, outstanding content. What’s the point of actually enrolling in a university again? To get a piece of paper called a diploma and join a frat? (apple.com/education/itunes-u)
MIT OpenCourseWare is an amazing, intellect-fortifying resource, offering all MIT course content for free. This means you can download syllabi, lecture notes, assignment and selected video lectures. You can’t get a virtual diploma after absorbing and processing all this info, but you’re guaranteed to be a hell of a lot smarter. (ocw.mit.edu)