iTunes U: Frugal Continuing Education
If you're like me, you probably regret not taking certain courses in college, or you didn't go to college and you're feeling ready to learn more about topics that interest you. What you may not have heard is that now some colleges are making classes and lecture series available to the general public (for free!) via iTunes.
It's called "iTunes U" and offers a diverse selection of lectures from any institution which chooses to make them available. Most are audio, but it appears that some are videos. In general, these are full courses or lecture series, though there is the occasional solo lecture.
So far, every lecture I've looked at or downloaded is free. And you don't need an iPod or MP3 player of any kind, just a computer and a set of headphones or speakers.
How to Use to iTunes U
If you haven't already, download iTunes onto your computer. It's free!
Start it up and go to the iTunes store. Don't let the "store" part scare you, you can access all kinds of free podcasts and lectures. I don't remember if you're required to create a user...I already have one...but that's free as well.
On the left, you'll see options for Music, Music Videos, TV Episodes, and iTunes U. Click on iTunes U.
You'll see a list of categories below the iTunes store box, offering lectures in: Business, Engineering, Fine Arts, Health & Medicine, History, Humanities, Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Society, and Teaching & Education.
I found the categories the most useful way to navigate, but you can also check out featured lectures or use their Power Search option. For the purposes of this walk-through, I decided to choose "Humanities." Then I selected the options to "See all" of their featured lectures, 13 pages worth.
Now I can select lectures on a number of topics, from John Locke to Pauline Epistles to Journalism. If you're looking for religion, this is the place to be; Humanities is perhaps 90% religion-related with lectures from many different universities.
Because I really enjoyed meeting him back in college, I select a series of lectures on "The New Monastics" by Shane Claiborne. Price? Free! All I have to do is click on the "Get" button and I've downloaded them to my iTunes. Now I can listen at my computer or on my MP3 player, whenever I have the time.
These lectures (if it's Shane Claiborne one can hardly call them lectures, more like "discussions") are made available by American Public Media, but others come from Oxford, Cambridge, Fuller Theological Seminary, Yale, etc. Because my husband lectures on Locke, I ended up going back and getting the featured Locke lectures from the Oxford. Again, free!
If you're like me, the only downside of iTunes U is that I don't have enough time to listen to lectures. I try to put them on when I'm cooking or crafting, and they're a much better use of that time than watching tv would be. So why not give it a shot?