10 Amazing Online Courses You Can Sign Up For in May 2019

iStock.com/Deagreez
iStock.com/Deagreez

The internet is a near-limitless resource of information and knowledge, but it’s not always easy to consolidate all of that into a structured educational experience. That’s why online courses can be a huge benefit. They offer the convenience of learning in your pajamas with the guidance of the kind of formal curriculum you'd find in a college class.

If you want to acquire a new skillset or become more proficient in a topic this May, there is no shortage of options, with sites like Udemy, Coursera, and edX offering a wide array of subjects. Best of all, most are free, with a fee charged only if you request proof of completion. We’ve narrowed down 10 of the best, including courses on cats, medieval magic, creativity, and more.

1. How to Argue Like a Pro

When you find yourself contesting another person’s reasoning—or someone is contesting your own—it helps to understand how to navigate contentious dialogue. This Duke University course led by philosophy professors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Ram Neta will teach you how to deconstruct an argument and identify key phrases when challenging someone’s opinion. You’ll also learn how to mount effective reasoning of your own.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $30.

2. Learn to Wield Medieval Magic

Revise your stereotypes of magic in the Middle Ages with this course from the Universitat de Barcelona that dives into spells, geomancy, and astrology in medieval Europe, exploring how society alternately revered and persecuted alleged spell-casters. Disclaimer: There’s no extra credit for turning your significant other into a toad.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

3. Communicate With Your Cat (and Craft Homemade Toys)

Cats are inscrutable creatures, prone to fits of adoration and violence in equal measure. Now you can learn to better relate to their moods and desire for play with this course that advises on good human-to-feline interactions and offers recommendations for cat toys you can craft yourself.

Sign up on Udemy for $11. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

4. Unlock Your Creativity

Hungry to express yourself but not sure how to begin? This course from bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) outlines a path to take your creative spark and organize it into a fulfilling and successful reality. Even if you’re not an artist or writer, Gilbert still has lessons for anyone looking to pursue their curiosity and see their ambition through.

Sign up on Udemy for $45. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

5. Boost Your Brain Power

If your knowledge of increased cognitive performance extends to a double espresso shot, you’ll likely benefit from this course by Karima Benameur, an assistant professor at the Department of Neurology at Emory University. You’ll learn the best diet for brain health, how exercise helps mental performance, and how meditation and sleep can improve your focus.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

6. Sharpen Your Math Skills for Knitting

To go from knitting novice to knitting ninja requires a basic understanding of math. Measuring yarn and figuring out patterns is the foundation for knitting success, and instructor Kate Atherley will provide the tools you’ll need to make numbers a part of your skill set.

Sign up on Bluprint. The individual course is $40, or you can get access to this many other courses with a subscription for $8 a month.

7. Become a Speed-Reading Machine

Ever wonder how some people can flip through hundreds of pages and still wind up with a working understanding of the text? Now you, too, can unlock the power of speed reading by learning how to read up to three times faster than your average, turtle-like college graduate. In addition to plowing through books, you’ll also learn how to retain your newfound knowledge and develop the ability to grasp new concepts like languages with (relative) ease.

Sign up on Udemy for $11. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

8. See America Through Foreign Eyes

The culture, history, and policies of the United States get a new lens in this course, which examines how foreign countries perceive America. Learn how citizens China, France, Mexico, and parts of Africa regard the U.S. as a result of trade, intervention, and education.

Sign up on Coursera for free. A certificate of completion is included.

9. Discover the Physiology of Fitness

Everyone knows that they should exercise, but few of us know exactly what exercising does to the body. The Science of Exercise, a course from the University of Colorado Boulder, will help you go beyond popular ideas like "run more, weigh less" or "eat protein, build muscle." If you’re interested in understanding why our body reacts the way it does to exertion and nutrition, check out this tutorial on what kind of fuel our body uses to function, the role of the respiratory system, and how to prioritize certain tasks depending on your goals.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

10. Create an iOS App

Think you have the next big app idea but too intimidated by the programming it would require? This tutorial will walk you step-by-step through the Swift programming language and Apple developer tools so you can make the jump from concept to downloadable product. No previous coding experience is required.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $99.

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Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor

Dash/Keurig
Dash/Keurig

If you're looking for deals on items like Keurigs, BISSELL vacuums, and essential oil diffusers, it's usually pretty slim pickings until the holiday sales roll around. Thankfully, Amazon is starting these deals a little earlier with their Big Fall Sale, where customers can get up to 20 percent off everything from home decor to WFH essentials and kitchen gadgets. Now you won’t have to wait until Black Friday for the deal you need. Make sure to see all the deals that the sale has to offer here and check out our favorites below.

Electronics

Dash/Amazon

- BISSELL Lightweight Upright Vacuum Cleaner $170 (save $60)

- Dash Deluxe Air Fryer $80 (save $20)

- Dash Rapid 6-Egg Cooker $17 (save $3)

- Keurig K-Café Single Coffee Maker $169 (save $30)

- COMFEE Toaster Oven $29 (save $9)

- AmazonBasics 1500W Oscillating Ceramic Heater $31 (save $4)

Home office Essentials

HP/Amazon

- HP Neverstop Laser Printer $250 (save $30)

- HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed OCR Scanner $274 (save $25)

- HP Printer Paper (500 Sheets) $5 (save $2)

- Mead Composition Books Pack of 5 Ruled Notebooks $11 (save $2)

- Swingline Desktop Hole Punch $7 (save $17)

- Officemate OIC Achieva Side Load Letter Tray $15 (save $7)

- PILOT G2 Premium Rolling Ball Gel Pens 12-Pack $10 (save $3)

Toys and games

Selieve/Amazon

- Selieve Toys Old Children's Walkie Talkies $17 (save $7)

- Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers $59 (save $21)

- Duckura Jump Rocket Launchers $11 (save $17)

- EXERCISE N PLAY Automatic Launcher Baseball Bat $14 (save $29)

- Holy Stone HS165 GPS Drones with 2K HD Camera $95 (save $40)

Home Improvement

DEWALT/Amazon

- DEWALT 20V MAX LED Hand Held Work Light $54 (save $65)

- Duck EZ Packing Tape with Dispenser, 6 Rolls $11 (save $6)

- Bissell MultiClean Wet/Dry Garage Auto Vacuum $111 (save $39)

- Full Circle Sinksational Sink Strainer with Stopper $5 (save $2)

Home Décor

NECA/Amazon

- A Christmas Story 20-Inch Leg Lamp Prop Replica by NECA $41 save $5

- SYLVANIA 100 LED Warm White Mini Lights $8 (save 2)

- Yankee Candle Large Jar Candle Vanilla Cupcake $17 (save $12)

- Malden 8-Opening Matted Collage Picture Frame $20 (save $8)

- Lush Decor Blue and Gray Flower Curtains Pair $57 (save $55)

- LEVOIT Essential Oil Diffuser $25 (save $5)

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Pizza Rodent Chuck E. Cheese's Origin Story Is Shockingly Depressing

Chuck E. Cheese has seen darkness.
Chuck E. Cheese has seen darkness.
Barry King, Getty Images

While he may not get the same respect as Toucan Sam or other food mascots, Chuck E. Cheese might be one of the most recognizable anthropomorphic animals in pop culture. The Chuck E. Cheese family restaurant chain has been serving up pizza and ball pits for children’s parties since the 1980s. But not many people are familiar with Chuck’s origin story, which comes directly from the company itself and details a childhood fraught with abandonment and violence.

Business Insider made an inquiry into Chuck’s backstory and was pointed to an official company page that lays it out. Immediately, the reader understands that the character’s extroverted personality belies incredible hardship. As a little mouse, Chuck was sent to St. Marinara’s orphanage, where he excelled in playing music. It’s here that his love of birthdays is forged. According to the story:

“Because Chuck E. was an orphan, no one knew when his birthday was, so he never had a birthday party of his own. This made Chuck E. sad.”

Fortunately, the sheer number of orphans at the facility meant there was a birthday party every week, which Chuck always attended. He also loved pizza and video games, including Pong—a nod to franchise founder Nolan Bushnell’s popular arcade game. In fact, Chuck won $50 in a Pong tournament, which allowed him to purchase a bus ticket to New York City.

After arriving in New York, Chuck took up residence above a pizza place owned by a man named Pasqually. When he was finally discovered, Pasqually chased the itinerant rodent around with a rolling pin in an apparent murder attempt. Then Chuck burst into song, which prompted Pasqually to spare his life and market his pizzeria with appearances from a singing mouse. A shy Chuck had trouble performing until he discovered it was a boy’s birthday. Inspired, he started singing. The rest is history.

Chuck’s ignorance of his parentage is a likely reason he earned the crass commercial moniker of Charles Entertainment Cheese.

He’s still the company mascot, which was in the news recently when word circulated that parent corporation CEC Entertainment plans to shred 7 billion prize tickets owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to electronic tickets. A sharp drop in revenue forced the company into bankruptcy in June, but a new $200 million loan and tweaks like home delivery (under the name Pasqually's) and mobile ordering—where customers can skip the counter and have food brought to their table after using the restaurant’s app—are expected to keep the chain afloat.