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.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]