Editor’s Picks

These Unique Summer MOOCs Start This Month

By Henry Kronk
July 02, 2018

Summer has officially arrived, and many normally busy and productive schedules have begun to loosen up. And with more free time, many head off to the beach, to the lake, to the patio, or anywhere else where the sun’s rays fall. But for those who like to put their extra hours to use, summer can be an excellent season for learning. It just so happens that many many massive open online courses (MOOCs) are beginning in July. Summer MOOCs are a great alternative to reading or solving yet another sudoku puzzle while getting your tan on.

Folks often enroll in MOOCs to up-skill for their career, leverage a promotion, or just get better at their job. But there are numerous MOOCs available for the generally curious human. The following summer MOOCs fall into the latter category.

To optimize summer MOOCs for the season, you’ll want to look for a few qualities. First, you can’t put a price on education. And for the following MOOCs, the providers haven’t—they’re all offered for free. Second, one of the greatest aspects of popular summer MOOCs is that they bring together learners from around the world. And because of that, you’ll want these courses to be synchronous. That means that they progress much like an in-person class would, all the while fostering a tighter sense of community and bonding experiences. Three truly interesting MOOCs that fall into these categories begin this month.

Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us

Ever wonder why your palms get sweaty when you’re coming down with a fever? Taught by Dr. Connie Scanga of the University of Pennsylvania via the Coursera platform, this MOOC gives learners the quick and dirty on how the human body works and how to recognize when something has gone awry.

summer MOOCs
John Jackson, Unsplash.

“The vital signs – heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration rate, and pain – communicate important information about the physiological status of the human body,” the course description reads. “In this six-part course we explore the anatomy and physiology underlying the vital signs so that you will develop a systematic, integrated understanding of how the body functions.”

Just under two thirds of the 40 learners who have reviewed this course have given it five stars. And one thing many agree upon is that Dr. Scanga is one of those rockstar professors who knows how to put a lecture together.

“This is probably one of the BEST of courses on Coursera,” writes one reviewer. “Dr. Scanga is an amazing teacher. She is so engrossed in what is teaching that her lectures come out like stories … it is as if she is narrating a story. She is one rare teacher, who delivers higher education as vividly and dramatically as nursery education!”

Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden potential

Taught by Drs. Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski, the creators of the world’s most popular MOOC “Learning How to Learn,” this companion course goes in a slightly different direction. 

“Mindshift is designed to help boost your career and life in today’s fast-paced learning environment. Whatever your age or stage, Mindshift teaches you essentials such as how to get the most out of online learning and MOOCs, how to seek out and work with mentors, the secrets to avoiding career ruts (and catastrophes) and general ruts in life, and insights such as the value of selective ignorance over general competence.” 

This course is one of the top 50 MOOCs of all time. Just 11% of reviewers have given it less than 5 stars on Class Central.

Understanding Dementia

Another All-Time Top 50 MOOC on Class Central, “Understanding Dementia” is taught by Professor Fran McInerney of the University of Tasmania, but a full 18 other experts in the field lend their perspective throughout the seven-week course.

“The 7-week curriculum is divided into three units: ‘the brain’, ‘the diseases’ and ‘the person’. It covers a range of topics including basic brain anatomy, pathology, dementia research, risk factors, the difference between normal ageing and dementia, diagnosis, medical management, living with dementia, progression and staging, palliation, behavioural and psychological symptoms, therapeutic approaches, dementia friendly communities and more.”

There’s no question that the summer season poses an excellent opportunity to learn. Whether you’re retraining, figuring out how to live a healthier life, or just sating your curiosity, these MOOCs will not disappoint.

Cover Image: Vicko Moraza, Unsplash.