5 Online Classes We Like

Online classes can be an on-ramp to new skills and knowledge that can help you advance in your career.


@ Jeremy Brooks
@ Jeremy Brooks

There are thousands of free, high-quality courses to choose from,  like the fundamentals of financial accounting, taught by a University of Pennsylvania prof,  or information security and risk management, taught by the director of the Center of Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington.  In addition to the best-known resources, like edX, Coursera, and Khan Academy, many smaller organizations and institutions also are experimenting with online learning.

Here are five that caught our eye:

1. The Science of Everyday Thinking,” an edX course, taught by a senior lecturer in cognition at the University of Queensland, Australia and a cognitive scientist.

Why we like it:  It looks at why we believe weird things,  how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions.

2. Big Data for Better Performance, by Open2Study, taught by publishing and content expert Bud Keegan.

Why we like it: This four-star review says it all: “Highly recommended for someone who wants to understand Big Data from the non-technical, business point of view.”

3. Introduction to Public SpeakingAnother edX course, from the University of Washington.

Why we like it. The only phobia that ranks higher than fear of  public speaking is fear of snakes. This is a comprehensive course designed to increase both competence and confidence.

4. Design Thinking for Business Innovation. A class taught by Professor Jeanne Liedtka, author of  Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works.

Why we like it: Liedtka’s book uses real world-cases, including the story of how IBM rebooted a trade show, which Convene wrote about in 2011.

5. Art History. A Khan Academy video series.

Why we like it. Okay, this is a bit of a wild card. But while I love visual arts and have had art museum memberships whenever I could afford them,  I’ve never had a formal, comprehensive art history class. And almost every expert on creativity suggests that when you give yourself permission to follow your passions, you develop your capacity to make connections and spur insights. (And if you need any persuasion , see Todd Henry’s book, The Accidental Creative.)

So tell us: what are you excited about learning?

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.