The University Network

Fun, Free Courses To Take During COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has left millions of people around the world in quarantine, sitting at home with a lot of time on their hands. Social distancing seems like it will continue for the foreseeable future, at least until the coronavirus is under control. If you find yourself at home twiddling your thumbs or watching the paint dry, consider putting this time toward learning something new.

Coursera, an online education platform that hosts courses from leading universities, just announced that they are providing 100 free certificate courses through May 31. In addition to informative courses on COVID-19 and professional development, these free course offerings include lots of fun courses on interesting topics, from the biology of dinosaurs to the history of the universe.

Whether you want to learn to play guitar, speak Korean or meditate, here are the best free, fun courses that you can take.

On Animals

The Truth About Cats and DogsThe University of Edinburgh

Ever wondered what your pet is thinking about? You may not be able to read your pet’s mind, but you can learn a bit about how your pet thinks and how its brain works. In this course, learn about what’s going on in your cat’s or dog’s mind and how to interpret its behaviors and actions.

Dog Emotion and CognitionDuke University

Dog psychology is the most exciting emerging field of science that you have never heard of. This course is designed to introduce you to important developments in the fast-growing field, even if you have no background in science. Learn how different breeds think and behave.

Animal Behaviour and WelfareThe University of Edinburgh

How do we determine the well-being of animals? In this course, you’ll learn about the complex issue of animal welfare, why it matters, and what can be done to improve the lives of all animals, including pets, farm animals and wild animals in captivity.

On Music

Getting Started With Music Theory Michigan State University

Whether you’re a musician or simply a fan of music, learning some music theory will demystify so much about how music is made and why certain chord changes and melodies sound so appealing to the ear. This course is designed for people with little or no music theory experience. You’ll learn how to read and notate music and about melody, harmony, pitch, rhythm, key signatures and more.

Guitar for BeginnersBerklee College of Music

If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to finally pick up that guitar, why not start now? Whether you want to learn to play electric or acoustic guitar, this is a great course to help you get started. Starting with the fundamentals, you’ll learn about the layout of the guitar, how to tune, and basic playing techniques before moving on to chord structures, scales and beginner music theory concepts.

On Fashion and Design

Fashion as DesignThe Museum of Modern Art

From the Museum of Modern Art, this course dives into the history and art of clothing. Learn how to identify and apply design principles to fashion and about how fashion has informed politics and defined identity in various cultures around the world.

The Language of Design: Form and Meaning California Institute of the Arts

If you are a designer or are simply interested in the discipline, in this course you will learn how to evaluate, critique and discuss design. Here, you will learn a practical vocabulary for communicating about design as well as a framework for understanding what makes a design effective.

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society University of Pennsylvania

Covering various fields of design, including architecture, graphic design, clothing, product design, industrial design and more, this course offers designers a systematic approach to creating designs. You will learn how to evaluate customer needs and to conceptualize and realize design solutions. You’ll also learn aesthetic principles to take your designs to the next level.

On Languages

First Step KoreanYonsei University

Interested in learning Korean? This course from Seoul’s Yonsei University covers introductory concepts in the Korean language. Learn to read and write the Korean alphabet, to communicate with basic expressions, and about aspects of Korean culture.

Chinese for Beginners Peking University

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, with over 1 billion speakers globally. If you’re interested in learning more about the Chinese language and culture, take this course. Here, you will learn basic expressions and phonetics of Mandarin Chinese. The course is focused on speaking, so you won’t learn to read or write in Chinese just yet, but it is an excellent springboard to dive deeper into the language.

Tricky American English PronunciationUniversity of California, Irvine

Designed for English language learners, this course covers American phonetics. You will learn about the unique ways that Americans pronounce certain English words and vowels and about the so-called “music” of American English, the rhythms and melodies that make American English distinct. This course is great for English learners who want to refine their pronunciation and speaking tendencies.

On Humanities and History

Introduction to Philosophy The University of Edinburgh

This is a course about big ideas. In each lesson, a different professor and philosopher will discuss important questions and ideas in their area of expertise. Learn about various philosophies of morality, politics, metaphysics, science, epistemology and more.

Big History: Connecting KnowledgeMacquarie University

From Australia’s Macquarie University, this course is a mind-expanding journey through the history of the world. Starting with the Big Bang and ending in the future, this course analyzes not only the history of humanity but of existence as we know it. 

On Personal Health 

Sit Less, Get Active The University of Edinburgh

We’re all spending a lot of time inside these days, but it is important to be active in order to stay healthy. In this course, learn various ways to integrate physical activity and various kinds of exercise into your life and to make activity a part of your daily life. 

De-mystifying MindfulnessUniversiteit Leiden

Every year, more people in the Western world become interested in mindfulness and meditation. This course investigates the science and philosophy underlying mindfulness practices and techniques, so that you can integrate them effectively into your life.

On Science

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology University of Alberta

Dig into the science behind Jurassic Park. Learn all about the behavior, anatomy, origins, evolution and extinction of the ancient giant reptiles in this introduction to dinosaur paleobiology.

The Science of the Solar SystemCalifornia Institute of Technology

With insights from physics, chemistry, biology, and geology, this course explores the solar system as we know it. What do we know about our neighboring planets? What are they composed of and what do they look like inside and outside? And is it possible for there to be life elsewhere in our planetary neighborhood?

Astronomy: Exploring Time and SpaceThe University of Arizona

The oldest science, astronomy is a guide to the universe as we know it. In this course, explore how scientific principles allow humans to interpret the night sky and understand what is happening in the distant reaches of space. Learn about the past, present, and future of astronomy — how we know what we know about the universe and what there still is to learn.

Bugs 101: Insect-Human Interactions University of Alberta

Some may think of bugs as pests, but they are some of the most fascinating animals on earth. The most abundant animals on the planet, bugs play central roles in all ecosystems. Learn all about the evolution, biology and behavior of insects and arthropods.

How Things Work: An Introduction to PhysicsUniversity of Virginia

In science, all roads lead to physics. The study of the basic principles of the natural world, physics informs all other fields of science. This course is designed as an easy-to-follow introduction to major concepts in physics, explored through everyday objects, including skateboards, falling balls, ramps, seesaws and more.

Conclusion

COVID-19 has upended lives as we know it. Keep yourself occupied by learning something new, whether it’s for fun or for other reasons.  

And you can audit many other classes for free. For example, here’s a list of 100 free Ivy League courses that are available for you to take. And there are thousands of other online courses to choose from, which could lead to a resume-building certificate, specialization or even a master’s degree.