Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lifelong Learning in Retirement - So Many Choices...............

For the past year and a half, I have been been doing "senior college" as I take course through our local Olli program at DU. For the most part I have really enjoyed these courses and found them to be challenging and fun, especially the Great Decisions courses. This fall though, I am probably not going to be able to take a course through Olli, so I am asking my fellow bloggers and readers their thoughts.

I tend to not be a person who likes to over schedule-I keep my mornings for at home time, exercise class, and nesting. In the afternoon and occasional evenings is when I have meetings and volunteer and do other things. Even so this fall has led to a situation where I will probably not be able to take any in person classes, at least through Olli. This is mainly because the classes that interest me conflict with knitting and volunteering this year and the classes on my free days are really not inspiring me, if you will. While Olli is very, very reasonable ($130 a semester for as many classes and seminars as you choose), I don't want to spend on classes that are not truly holding my interest.

In order to keep myself challenged, I do want to take a course-at least one. The question of course, is where and how. I could take a "real" college course-but these can be expensive and I get plenty of socialization, so maybe I should look at taking courses at home? I can take them whenever I want, spend as much time a s I want in a single day on a topic, and not have to leave the house.

So far I have looked at MIT open courseware, Open Culture, and Coursera.  All of these options are free, and there are more courses to choose from than I can say. I am sure these are not the only free options.

I've also looked at the Great Courses-which are not free. If you have not checked them out, Great Courses has literally thousands of courses to choose from. Classes range from fifteen lectures (most are thirty minutes) to as many as 48 (History of European Art). A class on the world's greatest paintings has 24 lectures. In the same way, price varies from as low as $60 a course (the Greatest Paintings above, on sale), to $400, depending. In other words, not free.

Free is not always necessary though, and there seems to be some very good classes in this mix, although I have not tried them out yet. More importantly, there is now a subscription service, Great Courses Plus. For a monthly fee (which seems to be $14.99), you can access as many courses as you would like in their library.

Now admittedly the subscription service does not have as many course options as the full Great Course program. It also does not have the DVD option vs streaming that I can see that the regular Great Course website does. But there are A LOT of choices, and more being added regularly. More importantly, it will let me to check out the quality of the programs for a low monthly amount, and allow me to consider if the high fee courses would be worth the money . Actually, it looks like they have a free trial right now. I believe I will begin with How To Draw, and move on to perhaps Genealogy!!

Meanwhile, fellow bloggers, readers and passers by............what was your favorite non-required course, in retirement or anytime. Would you rather take and in person class, an online class, both, or does it matter??

14 comments:

  1. My library has many Great Course programs to be checked out. Of course then you don't have as long to do them but you could at least see if it was worth the cost.

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    1. That never even occurred to me, and you are absolutely right, they do. I'm not sure I can get through how to draw in three weeks, but many other courses I could. Thanks!!!

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  2. I wish libraries offered weekly lectures or some types or courses for a nominal fee. I know they have book club meetings, but I can no longer read or focus on a book in time for that. I prefer to listen or read short articles on the Internet..

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    1. I belong to three book clubs!!!keeps me honest in my type of reading. My library has lots of programs but no lectures as such.

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  3. Retirement is in my some-what distant future however, I think taking a class on-line, in person, whatever depends on a few things to consider.
    1. I think if the course is a technical one, and what I mean is just the facts, on-line, if you have the discipline, is a good idea. This is often what fellow teachers do who are working because of time constraints.
    Obviously that is not your situation,
    2. One of the great things about taking classes is the discussion and views of other classmates. Unless you are taking a webinar or a "live" class on-line, you would miss out in those rich discussions that you have with your fellow classmates. I have always found that you indeed learn not only from your instructor, but also from the people who are also taking the class.
    As you mentioned, often the class is not offered when you have the time. Also, transportation costs, traveling time need to be taken into consideration. Weighing those factors is necessary but I think the bottom line is depending on what course you take, even though you have plenty of socialization with your other activities, taking classes with people, in my opinion, is the best option.

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    1. Anne, my experience is that some classes do require interaction like the great courses. Others, like memoir writing or how do draw require less. I think it also depends on your need for social interaction. I belong to three craft groups, three book groups, exercise classes and more so my people to people ratio is fine.

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    2. Oops, meant to say great decisiions.

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  4. I have subscribed to Great Courses Plus ever since the launch last fall. The range of courses is tremendous and quality of the streaming videos is outstanding. Some of the professors are good and some need to brush up on their on-camera work. But, that is true of the DVD versions also. Overall, it is a much better bargain than buying individual courses.

    I try to watch a lecture from one of the courses I am following while eating lunch. Most lectures are 30 minutes so the timing is perfect.

    I am a fan.

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    1. Thanks Bob, this is good to know. I do see the library also has these courses, but I would rather stream, ya know?

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  5. I want to read all the replies to this post. I watch a lot of videos on Amazon and Netflix on non-fiction subjects and that will usually get me researching something I see. However, I think I would enjoy a classroom structure too. Hope there are lots of good ideas posted.

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  6. Barbara, I really need an organized class, be it online,by audio book or in person. Just looking stuff up is not enough for me. In my case I rake crafts classes as well

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  8. In college I loved all the art history courses I took. I fell in love with art history when I spent a year in college in Turkey. Take courses in what you care about and you will enjoy while learning. I think you already do that.

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  9. I took an online Open Yale Course on the Civil War and found it absolutely fascinating; I took another on intro. to psychology which was pretty good as well. I tried to go take a Lifelong Learning class at my community college this past spring ... but it was already filled up. So I guess we seniors are getting pretty well educated!

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