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April 14, 2017

Learn About Literature #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber



As I mentioned in my first post for the A to Z Challenge, I don't have a degree in English or Literature. I have a degree in biology and to be honest, my English courses in college were more about ticking off a box on my requirements than learning anything. I enjoyed my American Lit class, but I also chose it because I had read everything on the syllabus.

I love learning and have maybe a bit of free time I would like to learn about something I'm passionate about (I was passionate about biology and I do use my degree a little bit in my day job). As an employee of a university, I can enroll in classes for free. I almost completed a Ph.D. in Ecology (didn't defend). But I don't care to take tests or do projects. I want something that fits my schedule.

For those wanting to learn anything, technology has definitely made it possible. If you don't care about getting a certificate or college credit there are a number of literature courses available online for FREE! And these aren't no-name schools or shady organizations. You can listen (and in most cases watch) recorded lectures from MIT, Yale, Harvard, UC Berkley, Oxford and more.

If you are looking for a bit more interaction than just listening to a lecture, you will often have access to the assignments (i.e. essay topics) and since in some courses (like those at Coursera) the assignments are peer graded, you could get your own "class" together. Again technology can help with that. You can use Google Docs to share essays or Google Hangouts or Skype for oral presentations. You can create a Facebook group which would allow for ongoing discussions. Reach out to your network and see who is interested. (I know some homeschoolers do something similar).

Where can you find these courses where you can learn anything from basic English grammar to studying Shakespeare and the Great American Novel? Here are the top spots I've found (often the same courses are cataloged at several sites, these sites offer the widest range of different courses). While I linked to the literature courses, you can find a number of other subject matters if you are interested in something else.

MIT OpenCourseWare
Open Culture
edX Literature Courses
Open Yale Courses
Oxford Playlists  This includes all subjects, but there are a number of audio guides to classic novels.

Do you have any favorite learning sites?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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15 comments:

  1. Oooh!
    Great stuff, thank you!
    (And Happy A-Z'ing)

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  2. Great list of resources. Happy A-to-Z-ing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm enjoying the A to Z Challenge. I hope yours is going well.

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  3. I've been toying with the idea of doing a course like this, so I guess it's a good thing I stopped by today. I'm going to check out those links... Thanks for doing the work for me!
    Doree Weller

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    1. I've probably been looking at possible courses off and on for the last month. I'm still not sure where I'll start as I found a few that really peaked my interest. Let me know if you choose a course.

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  4. What a cool resource! How fun it would be to be a virtual fly on the wall at a top university, hearing great minds discuss great books.
    http://laurelgarver.blogspot.com/2017/04/l-love.html

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    1. I'm so glad that technology allows for this. I think it is so cool that I can listen to lectures from Harvard and Yale. I wish more schools would provide their lectures for free. But because I am at a university I know the cost to produce such offerings can be prohibitive.

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  5. Nice resources. If you just want to be able to talk about books, there's also Goodreads.com. Lots and lots of groups, and it takes some hunting, but you can usually eventually find a group that actually talks about books.
    The Ninja Librarian’s Favorite Characters

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    1. I use Goodreads to maintain my reading lists and I'm part of a few groups. I'm sure there are a few that looks at the classics or discuss more than how much they wish the character was their boyfriend, but I haven't found them. I want to go deeper into stories and writing - discussing devices and conventions the author uses. I want to improve how I write and talk about fiction which is why I went looking for academic courses.

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  6. Thanks for the tips about free lectures on line.

    Phillip | M is for Mail Me Some Art

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    1. You're welcome. I do a lot of online learning for work so I start looking for stuff that is interesting to me on a more pleaseure than work basis.

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  7. Thanks for the resources, Donna. I am always thinking about taking a class and this gives me a place to start looking.

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  8. I did do English literature at university. We aren't required to do set subjects here, so it was entirely my own choice as someone who loves reading. I'm glad I did, because I had to read books I would otherwise never have dreamed of picking up, and would have missed out on the experience. I got as far as an Honours degree(thesis on mediaeval Arthurian romances) but decided that a Master's thesis would require a lot of work and be read by three people, whereas a novel would require a lot of work, but potentially be read by thousands of people.

    I may try an on line course when I retire - better still, see if I can attend - but it won't be in literature. I can read any time I like.

    One of our students, brilliant in science and maths, was passionate enough a reader to take a gap year to study literature before accepting the science course she'd been offered.

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    1. At least in my state, people 65 and older can attend public universities for free. Since I didn't want to teach getting a degree in literature held little appeal. I'm not that great of writer and though I love to read I'm slow. I never could have kept up with the course work for one class let alone 3 or 4 classes.

      I taker a lot of online course for work related topics. Last summer I did Inbound Marketing and this year I'm looking at Digital Marketing. Even so, I would still like to do a course for purely the educational enlightenment so to speak, which is why I'm drawn to the literature classes. They serve no real purpose except expanding my own knowledge.

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