Top Universities (Including Harvard) Offer Hundreds of Free Classes Online. Here's How to Join In

iStock.com/Maksim Kamyshanskii
iStock.com/Maksim Kamyshanskii

Have you always wanted to learn Chinese, jazz piano, or a programming language? Maybe you just want to brush up on world history or figure out how to finance that company you’ve been wanting to start for years. Now is the time to do it for free. Universities around the world—including Ivy League schools like Harvard University, Princeton University, and Columbia University—have recently launched hundreds of free online courses, according to Dhawal Shah, the founder of the online course search engine and review site Class Central.

Shah has been keeping track of these Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on Class Central since 2011, when MOOCs were first starting to emerge as a trend. (The New York Times called 2012 "The Year of the MOOC.") Since then, the free course landscape has grown exponentially. “In the past seven years or so, over 800 universities have created around 10,000 of these MOOCs,” he writes on freeCodeCamp’s Medium page. In the last four months alone, 190 universities have made about 600 online courses available online for free.

The courses listed on Class Central are offered through different MOOC providers, like edX and Coursera. When you click through to the class you’ll be prompted to sign up for a membership with the individual website. (For tips on how to access Coursera’s free content, check out Shah’s guide.) Most of the courses are self-paced and can take anywhere from three weeks to several months to complete.

Although the classes are free, you might have to pay for some content, like graded assignments. And if you want to receive a verified certificate proving you've completed the course, you’ll have to pay for it. On edX, for instance, these tend to go for $90-$100. Still, it’s significantly cheaper than attending the class in-person.

Many of the newly released MOOCs cover your standard subjects—think computer science, math, and science—but there are a few oddballs, too. Yale, for instance, created a free online version of its popular happiness course—“Psychology and the Good Life”—in April 2017. Princeton University offers “HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism,” which is designed to explore life’s unanswerable questions, like “Why breathe? Why breed? Why bleed?” You can also take a Harvard University class on 18th-century opera or a class on the “Power of Podcasting for Storytelling” from the University of Wollongong in Australia.

Here are 10 other courses we think look fascinating:

1. "Pixel Art for Video Games" from Michigan State University
2. "Toledo: Deciphering Secrets of Medieval Spain" from the University of Colorado system
3. "The Presidency and the Shape of the Supreme Court" from Trinity College in Connecticut
4. "The Health Effects of Climate Change" from Harvard University
5. "Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather" from Harvard University
6. "Introduction to Linguistics" from the University of Birmingham in the UK
7. "John Milton: Paradise Lost" from Dartmouth College
8. "Mind of the Universe—Robots in Society: Blessing or Curse?" from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands
9. "The Book of Kells: Exploring an Irish Medieval Masterpiece" from Trinity College Dublin
10. "Mindfulness: What It Is, Where It Comes From, and How to Practice It" from Naropa University in Colorado

For the full course list, check out Shah’s article on Medium.

This Nifty Potato Chip Bag Hack Is Amazing the Internet

Keep that crispy, crunchy freshness inside the bag—no tools needed.
Keep that crispy, crunchy freshness inside the bag—no tools needed.
etiennevoss/iStock via Getty Images

If you don’t have enough chip clips to keep your snack bags shut—or if you have a habit of misplacing them—there’s no shortage of household items you can use instead. Clothespins, binder clips, rubber bands, and ponytail holders all get the job done, and you could even use an especially durable paper clip or bobby pin in a pinch.

But, as many people on the internet just discovered, all you actually need to seal your half-eaten bag of potato chips is the bag itself. Last week, actor and host of Bravo’s Top Chef Padma Lakshmi posted a video on Twitter of her tightly closing a bag of Fritos without any makeshift chip clips.

First you fold the two sides of the bag down as far as they’ll go, so the top of the bag is shaped like a triangle—similar to how you’d wrap a present. Then, roll up the bottom of that triangle a few times until you’ve created a pocket, under which you can tuck the triangle’s point. After that, simply roll the top of the bag down a few times, and you’ve successfully sealed the bag.

At the end of the video, Lakshmi turns the bag upside down and gives it a few shakes to show everyone just how secure it is. She tweeted the hack with the caption “How am I just finding out about this now?” and, considering that the video has been viewed more than 10 million times, it’s safe to say that she’s not the only one who didn’t know about the hack.

Wondering what other life hacks you might be missing out on? Find out how to chill a soda in three minutes, remove scratches on CDs, and more here.

6 Fun Backgrounds to Use on Your Next Video Call

You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re struggling to find a perfectly decorated wall in your house to serve as the backdrop for your video calls with friends, family, and coworkers, we have good news: Video conferencing platform Zoom lets you customize your very own virtual background.

To do it, log into your Zoom account, go to “Settings” on the left side of your screen, and choose the "Meeting" tab. Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, and then scroll down farther to make sure the “Virtual background” option is enabled. After that, open the Zoom application on your desktop, click on the “Settings” wheel in the upper right corner, and go to “Virtual Background.” There are a few automatic options, but you can choose your own image from your computer files by clicking on the plus-sign icon.

Now, the only thing left to do is decide which image will best set the tone for your next video call. From the New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room to Schitt’s Creek’s Rosebud Motel, here are six of our favorites.

1. The Rosebud Motel lobby from Schitt’s Creek

schitt's creek rose motel lobby
It's not the Ritz-Carlton.
CBC

You can imagine that David is just out of frame, doing his best to carry on a silent—albeit with lots of expressive gesturing—conversation with Stevie at the front desk. (More Schitt's Creek backgrounds here.)

2. Carl and Ellie’s house from Up

carl and ellie's house from up
Balloons not included.
Walt Disney Pictures

If you’re hoping to create a calming atmosphere, look no further than the cozy little sitting room where Carl and Ellie grew old together in 2009's Up. (More Pixar backgrounds here.)

3. The attic study from Knives Out

knives out attic study
Nothing bad has ever happened here.
Lionsgate

If your own study isn’t quite teeming with intriguing souvenirs and leather-bound volumes, feel free to borrow this one from the mansion in 2019’s Knives Out. (More Knives Out backgrounds here.)

4. The USS Enterprise from Star Trek

star trek's uss enterprise bridge
A great way to get your coworkers to fess up to being huge Trekkies.
TrekCore.com, Twitter

Blame your spotty internet connection on the fact that you’re traveling through the galaxy at the speed of light with this background from the bridge of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. (More Star Trek backgrounds here.)

5. The New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room

new york public library reading room
You reserve the right to shush any coworkers who forgot to mute themselves.
New York Public Library

Bibliophiles who can’t make it to the library can still pay a virtual visit to the sumptuous Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library’s iconic Fifth Avenue location. (More New York Public Library backgrounds here.)

6. The Werk Room from RuPaul’s Drag Race

rupaul's drag race werk room
Sashay away from the screen if you're taking a bathroom break during the call.
VH1

Dazzle your coworkers by calling in from the vibrant room where all the magic—and most of the drama—happens on RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you happen to be decked out in an ensemble made entirely of things you found at the Dollar Store, even better. (More RuPaul's Drag Race backgrounds here.)

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