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Podcasting Brain Podcasting Brain

6 basic online college courses you can listen to as podcasts

Podcasting Brain

Sometimes the hardest part of getting a degree isn’t the final exam or the big midterm project. It’s getting started. Hell, sometimes it’s just trying to decide if you want to go back to school. If, however, you’re one of the millions who is thinking of changing careers to go back to school to earn your degree in a new field or you just want to learn the basics of a new field of study, the Internet is here to help. There are thousands of free online college courses and classes that can help you decide if you’re ready to learn something new, refresh your memory on concepts you’ve already learned or just quench the thirst of a curious mind and all you have to do is download them to your iPod.

Classical Mechanics

Physics can be one of the most difficult concepts to grasp and understand if you don’t have a good foundation of the basics to get you started. This class in podcast form can help do just that for you.

This Stanford course aims to teach the “essential theoretical foundations of modern physics” through a series of nine lectures that are free to download from iTunesU’s dedicated education section. The class will explore several subsets of physics including classical and quantum mechanics, the theories of relativity, electromagnetism and others and each course builds on the other one to help you better understand the concepts by utilizing them in increasingly challenging lessons.

Introduction to Biology

If you’re thinking about taking a crack at the highly lucrative and competitive medical field, this is the place you should start, even if you’ve been to medical school and you already know the difference between a tibia and a fibula.

This general introduction course from MIT’s OpenCourseware program can be viewed in video form or listened to as an audio podcast as professors discuss the core material behind some of biology’s most basic building blocks such as genetics, molecular biology and cell biology. The course also comes with study materials, problem sets and quizzes so you can put the principals you’ve learned into practice.

Introduction to Psychology

Whether you’re trying to go back to school to earn another bachelor’s degree or you’re just another cog in the business world looking for an edge up on the other guy, having a basic understanding of the principals and philosophies of the human mind can become a great asset.

MIT offers just such a course through their online lecture series program. This podcast only comes in audio form and presents debates and discussions on such basic psychological concepts as free will, consciousness, human differences and the never ending battle between “nature vs. nurture”. The most interesting part of the course is the way it turns the student into its test subject, not only to help students effectively learn the course material but maybe also a little something about themselves.

Introduction to Economics

One of the hardest and most basic subjects in any course curriculum has to be economics. Just trying to wrap your brain around things like positive and negative externalities and the tightening of the reaction function can null and void the sharpest of minds.

So before you step back into the classroom that almost turned you into a drooling vegetable as a college freshmen (assuming the beer didn’t already cancel out that possibility), UC Berkeley can help prepare you with a free refresher course on their iTunesU site. According to the course’s web page, you’ll learn about everything economists learn on the first day of school such as tax effects on an economy, welfare analysis and adverse inflation shock. The course’s website also has practice problem sets and sample midterms to help you with your studies.

Modern American History

The philosopher and poet George Santayana famously said, “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”

You can start with this UC Berkeley course that examines the political, economic and socioeconomic histories and course of events in just the last few centuries of America’s history. This course, which is also available on iTunesU’s podcast section, contains several lectures that explore America’s recent rise as a global superpower by examining the events and effects of The Cold War, The Cuban Missile Crisis and the rise of instability and unrest in the Middle East.

Introduction to Political Philosophy

Probably the most booming industry in these hard economic times is politics. Let’s face it, industries come and go. Corporations rise and fall. The dollar increases in value and drops to record lows. However, politicians will always be around to grandstand for their party, slander their opponents and line their pockets under the guise of helping others line theirs, probably even after nuclear war has wiped out all of human and nothing are left but the slimy cockroaches and the insects that somehow survived the radioactive blast.

So if you’re thinking of entering the political arena (may God have mercy on your soul), you can at least take this Yale course that explores the philosophy of why politics is the way it is by looking at the way it was starting with the polis experience, then to the sovereign state and finally to the constitutional government.


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