The digital age is upon us, and now is as good a time as any to brush up on your digital education. Prestigious colleges like MIT and Berkley offer online, open courses for the public. All you need is a willingness to learn new information, a computer and a high-speed Internet connection. You can find open courses on engineering to art. Take the class seriously and it could be a nice addition to your resume. Browse this list for courses that will guide you through your PC or Mac as well as through the history of the digital age.
Understanding the Internet and Web Design Courses
- 1. Communicating With Data – Now that you’ve mastered communication, how will you incorporate data? This course gives you tips on breaking down information for online readers/clients with the creative applications of data.
3. Technological Tools for School Reform – Whether you’re an educator or have your own school-going child, this course is for you. It investigates how the Internet has been used to refer the modern educational system, and how our approach might be improved.
4. Information and Entropy – The Internet represents information unchained; entropy represents the limits of what we can know. The intersection of these two disparate elements is explored in this sobering examination of what we can and can’t communicate.
5. Artificial Intelligence – You may want to incorporate some kind of AI into your site…or alternately, get tips to kill the out of control robot you’ve created. Either way, this primer on artificial intelligence will make sure you’re ready.
6. Introduction to Software Engineering in Java - The longer you design web pages, the more tempting Java becomes. Here’s a course to introduce you to Java basics.
7. Java Preparation for 6.170 – Now that you’ve got your Java basics down, here’s the advanced course. Become a Java guru and pimp your website out.
8. Designing the user interface: text, color, images, moving images and sound – Even if you’re just creating a simple blog, you’re still working on a user interface. This course offers ways of improving that interface, and bringing in more visitors than ever before.
9. Learn and Apply HTML – When designing web pages, it’s best to get back to basics. This course fills you in on how to use HTML, the standard language of the web.
10. Flash - Don’t get excited—you’re not studying the DC hero. Instead, this course gets you accustomed to Macromedia’s Flash program, allowing you to make a truly eye-popping website.
11. An introduction to information security – With great blogging comes great responsibility. This course gives you an overview of the necessary procedures to make sure all of your info stays safe and secure.
12. Computer Graphics - Are you ready to take your Photoshop skills to the next level? This course examines everything about computer graphics, from hardware to software to modeling and animation.
13. Computational Cognitive Science - This is another sweet course detailing how computers can help us wrap our minds around…well…our minds. Once you know “the forms of knowledge our world takes,” you can use it to your design advantage.
14. Effective ways of displaying information – Having lots of awesome info is only one half of the Internet equation. This course delves into how to display the info for maximum effectiveness, transforming your dry numbers into something vibrant and visual.
15. Information on the web – Search engines can be a complicated thing, and your friends shouting “just Google it” aren’t really helping matters. This course is all about using search engines, and becoming a search-fu master.
16. Creating Interactive Multimedia – While many of these courses touch on interactive media, few provide a good place to simply learn how to create it. Enter this course, which builds skills from the ground up for you to create awesome, creative media for your users to interact with.
17. People-centered designing – Unsurprisingly, with so much focus on technology, many web designers unconsciously fall away from those they’re supposed to be designing their sites for—users. This course concentrates on returning to the way things should be—people-centered.
18. Introduction to Web Design – Distributed Lectures - This cool web design primer is set up a little differently from other online courses. It allows you to pick lectures on the specific web design topics you need, from your first webpage to using CSS and much, much more.
19. Web Page Authoring - The name here says it all. This course is all about designing the perfect web page, and touches on technical issues as well as design issues.
20. Web Design II – Designed for more advanced users, this course is a great follow-up to the previous one, helping would-be web designers become more advanced. Plus, all of the lectures are available on iTunes, so this course is road-ready.
21. HTML Basics – It’s all about the HTML with this course. You’ll go over HTML structure, HTML tags, and everything else needed to give you a great web foundation.
22. User Interface Design and Implementation – Whether you want the more scientific info or the more people-centric info, these lectures have you covered. This course is all about maximizing interfaces (such as your website) for usability on the part of visitors.
23. Advanced Internet and Web Services – After you’ve got your Internet basics down, here’s the advanced studies course. Search engine design, web security, and user-targeted services are just a few of the areas examined.
Open Courses in Communications and New Media
- 24. The Future of the Internet: Private Sheriffs in Cyberspace – Speaking of Internet laws, here’s a course detailing what will constitute as a sheriff in the future of cyberspace. Primarily, it concerns how these sheriffs will be outside of traditional legal channels, and whether that’s a good or bad thing.
26. Introduction to Media Studies – Online media is a funny thing; blink, and you’re surrounded by tweets and friend requests and a whole host of things that may not make much sense. This course offers an introduction to new media itself, as well as how to process and understand it.
27. Media Education and the Marketplace – If you intend to open an online business (or already have one), this course is a must. It offers unique ways of using media on- and offline in order to build clients and drive sales.
28. Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers – In your blogging life, one of the main goals is to make sure your words don’t cause any brushes with the law. This course is a primer on notions of copyright, privacy, and defamation, so you can stay safe.
29. Information Law and Policy – Here’s another excellent course to prepare you for the implications of information laws. Arguably more in-depth than the previous entry, this course will make sure you don’t make any legal faux pas.
30. Freedom of Information – This legal-minded course is more specialized for those with a journalistic bent. It explores the implications of things such as the Freedom of Information act on your forms of online expression.
31. Speech Communication – Here’s another awesome communication-centric course. By studying the properties of natural language, you can make any site appear to almost any demographic.
32. The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Online Audiences and the Paradox of Web Traffic – Those interested in creating their own sites should find this particularly useful. It concerns how to discern the true nature of your web traffic, and how to increase it.
33. Future Directions for US Public Media – The focus of this course is the intersection between the real world and the online world. It offers thoughts for the integration of existing media agencies into more flexible online media outlets.
34. Argumentation and Communication – The more things change, the more they stay the same. This primer on rhetoric and communication also serves to guide the design of your future web pages.
35. Planning, Communications, and Digital Media – In addition to offering preparation for online communication and new media, this course also offers tips for using Internet-friendly software. Quickly become an expert in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and more.
36. Diversity and difference in communication – Along the same lines of early communication-oriented entries, this course helps prepare you for a more diverse world of interaction. With this knowledge, your site—be it a blog, commercial site, or whatever—will appeal to the largest demographic.
37. Communicating Across Cultures – This course concentrates on offering tips for communicating more clearly in an increasingly globalized culture. Similar to the prior entry, it gives you tips on communicating with cultures other than your own, whether your purpose is business or pleasure.
38. Connecting People with Online Resources - Need a primer on what online resources are available to you? This course provides that, as well as offering tips on how to utilize this information for those visiting your site.
39. Creating Meaningful Online Discussions – In theory, the Internet should lead to meaningful meetings of minds over vast distances. This course is covers what you can do to create meaningful discussions within your own online communities.
40. Introduction to Copyright Law - With RIAA pinning people to the wall for 6-digit damages, copyright law is scarier than ever. Make sure your webpage is lawsuit proof with this cool class.
41. CMS.950 Workshop I – How do we use one form of media to understand others? That’s the focus of this course, which uses comparative media studies to develop skills to help you better understand and create new media.
42. Understanding Online Interaction – What does networking mean, really? That’s the focus of this course, as real life networking has almost entirely been taken over by online culture.
Computer Science and IT-Primer Open Courses
- 43. Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science – Here’s another futurism-friendly course. Looking at the idea of “computer science beyond computers,” this will give you a taste of the future to bring to your website.
44. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming - The time will eventually come when you’re going to need to fix up your website with some programs. This course is designed to make you feel comfortable creating your very own.
45. Integrating eSystems & Global Information Systems - If you still think IT is just an emphatic way of referring to Stephen King’s scary clown, this site is for you. It brings you up to speed on what information technology is, and how it can affect your daily life and online interactions for the better.
46. Information technology: a new era? – This IT primer examines new technology in light of the shifting economy. This course is great whether you want an IT history or an awesome economy lesson.
47. Principles of Wireless Communications – There will be times you want to kill your wireless connection…but to kill it, you must first understand it. That’s the idea behind this course, which examines wireless communication from all directions.
48. Data Communication Networks - If you’re designing your own network, this site will offer loads of good insight. With a focus on network algorithms and their performance, there’s a whole lot to learn in this course.
49. Transmission of Information – The purpose of this course is 2-fold. The first part defines how we define and collect information, and the second purpose analyzes how we transmit it, ideal for understanding how to transmit info to users.
50. Principles of Digital Communications I - Not limited to the web, this course explores all aspects of digital communication. Be sure to stick around for part 2.
51. Principles of Digital Communication II – This course continues the digital communication party. The primary focus here is on the coding of information.
52. High Speed Communication Circuits and Systems - So what’s behind your Internet connection, really? That’s the focus of this course, which analyzes all aspects of high speed communication.
53. Pervasive Human Centric Computing – What’s beyond personal computers? That’s the focus of this “post pc” class, which looks at handheld computers, cell phones, and other portable devices.
54. Natural Language and the Computer Representation of Knowledge – If you want to reach your readers, you have to know how they process language. This course examines how to build better systems for human language processing.
Courses on Internet Subcultures and the Internet’s Effects on Society
- 55. Beyond Byron: Towards a New Culture of Responsibility – Here’s a course for those focused on their family. It discusses measures taken past and present in order to increase safety for children who surf the Internet.
57. Social and Political Implications of Technology – If you’re politically minded, there’s a lot to enjoy in this course. It offers a glimpse into how technology has historically affected politics, and continues to do so through Internet advancements.
58. Scholarship in the Digital Age: Blurring the Boundaries between Research and Learning – This next course is of concern to scholars everywhere. It ponders the notion of how to capture key information and store it online, and how to evaluate its relative worth and use value to the public.
59. Regulating Technologies - On the heels of the last entry comes this course, concerned with the regulation of emerging technologies. It details existing regulations for new ideas, and the implications these regulations have for your own web use.
60. Internet Technology in Local and Global Communities – Whether your concerns are strictly local or global in nature, this course offers insight into how the Internet affects communities. This cool course is ideal for teachers and regular Internet users alike.
61. You’ve Got Mail: Meeting, Dating, Marriage and the Internet – Care to meet your soul mate online? This course provides a history of Internet dating, and offers thoughts for its future.
62. Social Visualization – It’s tough not to think of all those people online in terms of abstract numbers. This course helps you visualize online people and their interactions, in order to better map your own interactions online.
63. Techno-identity: Who we are and how we perceive ourselves and others – Nicely complementing the previous course, this one is all about how we structure identities online and offline. Specifically, how emerging science and technology changes what we even perceive as identity.
64. Seminar on Deep Engagement – If you’re communicating online, no matter the format, then the ultimate goal becomes engaging other people. This course investigates what means and methods new media offers in order to deepen human engagement.
65. Consumer Culture - If your site will be an excoriating look at consumer culture, then this course is a must-take. It examines the ins and outs of consumer society, and will give you ways of exploring (and exploiting) this to your advantage.
66. New Global Agenda: Exploring 21st Century Challenges through Innovations in Information Technologies – Hot on the heels of the last course comes this entry into the online international politics scene. With a cool, hands-on approach, the course examines the effect of technology on the modern political landscape.
67. Language as a medium for teaching and learning - Here’s another course dedicated to the notion of “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” It focuses on using language in such a way it maximizes your teaching effectiveness, and is an awesome tool to apply to any how-to blogs or Wikis you maintain.
68. Common Sense Reasoning for Interactive Applications - Here’s two concepts that don’t always go hand in hand: interactive apps and common sense. This course is about taking any of your interactive endeavors and applying common sense to them in equal proportion to new technology tricks.
69. Human Computer Interaction – To know how users will process your webpage, you have to know how users process the computer. That’s the focus of this course, which studies human/computer interaction and offers ways of utilizing this info for your own purposes.
70. Electronic Media – This iPod-friendly course is another one where the name says it all. The focus is, simply put, all forms of electronic media, and it offers ways of integrating many other forms into your website.
71. The Future of the Internet - The Web has had a rollercoaster ride from being an old Army BBS to being a world-wide phenomenon. The focus of this course is where the Internet is headed, and how you can better ride that wave into the future.
72. Foundations of American Cyber-Culture - Americans put their mark on everything, and cyberspace/cyberculture are no different. This course examines the foundations of American culture online, which is invaluable from a design standpoint.
Online Liberal Arts and Humanities Open Courses
- 73. Becoming Digital: Writing About Media Change – The purpose of this course is two-fold. It offers you the low-down on how changing online media affect our lives, but it also discusses whether such changes are for good or for ill.
74. Digital Poetry- Got a creative side? This course investigates the intricacies of digital poetry, allowing you to spread your creativity through this crazy series of tubes.
76. Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice – Here’s another one for you creative types. If you like writing fiction and/or non-fiction, this course offers tips and tricks for enhancing your narrative through the use of the Internet.
77. Intro to Tech Communication – Here’s a course aimed at business professionals and global communicators. It offers the basics of technical and intercultural communication, offering you a bridge to spread your words across the entire world.
78. From Digital Photography to Fine Art Painting: The Role of Technology for the 21st Century Artist – If you’ve got a yen for both technology and art, this is the ultimate class for you. It dishes on how modern technology can transform your photographs into fine art.
79. Special Topics in Multimedia Production: Experiences in Interactive Art – As the name says, this course is all about interactive art. Large focus is given to interactive web art, and how it continues to change in the 21st century.
80. Technology and the Literary Imagination - How has technology affected your favorite authors? That’s the focus of this course, which examines how technologies new and old affect the literary imagination.
81. From Print to Digital: Technologies of the Word, 1450-Present – Obviously, it’s been a long way from the Gutenberg press to the Amazon Kindle. This course explores how technology has influenced literature for over 500 years, and continues to do so with the Internet.
82. Technology for Professional Writers - If you’d rather be writing a book instead of just reading it, then this is the course for you. It offers ways of using online technology to help your craft, find work, and much more.
83. Technology for Professional Writers - As paradoxical as it may sound, professional writers don’t always know the best tricks and technology to get their jobs done. Hence this class, which offers you the technical skills to better market yourself on- and offline.
84. Composing Your Life: Exploration of Self through Visual Arts and Writing – Web 2.0 has given us more tools than ever with which to represent ourselves online. This course takes a closer look at how both visual art and written expression can show the world who you really are.
85. Introduction to Technical Communication : Ethics in Science and Technology - So you’ve got the tech; are you going to do the right thing with it? That’s the question behind this course, which focuses on the intersection of technology and ethics.
86. Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Issues in Print, Photography and Film – If you intend to blog about the media, this course is invaluable. It brings it back to basics by discussing expository writing, and offers ways of making your own webpage pop.
87. Expository Writing: Autobiography – Theory and Practice - Here’s one that matches your blogging like peanut butter going with jelly. Blogs are essentially online autobiography; here’s a class that helps you master autobiographies.
88. The Creative Spark – Writer’s block hits everybody, online and offline. Here’s a course that teaches you how to channel your inner spark and turn it into an inferno of productivity.
89. Rhetoric – If your website will be tackling controversial issues, you’ll need to stay on your writing toes. Enter this awesome primer to rhetoric, which will prepare you to take on all comers.
90. Writing on Contemporary Issues: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace - Nervous about publishing your thoughts online? Here’s a primer on all aspects of cyberspace publishing, to get you ready to rock our digital faces off.
91. Writing About Race: Narratives of Multiraciality - Here’s no great surprise: race is just as touchy and difficult of an issue online as it is offline. Here’s a course that teaches you to explore the issue in a direct and honest way.
92. Writing and Experience: Exploring Self in Society – Use the fiction of the past to explore the writing of the present. That’s the theory behind this course, which explores how we construct identities, online and off.
93. Writing and the Environment – Environmental sustainability is an issue that’s hotter than California wildfire right now. If you’re going to save yourself some carbon credits and jump onto the sustainability blogging train, then this is the course to get you ready.
94. The Nature of Constructionist Learning – How do we use knowledge and knowledge-gathering tools to change the nature of knowing itself? That’s the focus of this course, which is particularly suited to those who wish to educate over the Internet.
95. Technologies for Creative Learning – Here’s another one for educators. This course concentrates on creative uses of technology, including the world wide web, to foster more creative learning.
96. How to Learn (Almost) Anything – Making for a great follow-up to the previous course, this one also concentrates on technology’s role in learning. The primary difference is the large focus on hands-on activities, making it a great way for you kinesthetic learners to process it.
97. International Politics in the New Century – via Simulation, Interactive Gaming, and ‘Edutainment’ – Games and politics, together at last. Here, “interactive political gaming” via online interactions is examined in the context of international politics.
98. Inventions and Patents - Let’s say your site spawns something cool and marketable; this course gives you the lowdown on patenting your unique inventions.
99. Rhetoric: Rhetoric of Science – Here’s a continuation of the previous course, with a focus on science. It allows you to use rhetoric to explore modern controversies in the scientific realm.
100. New Media Literacies – What does new media even mean, anyway? That’s the focus of this course, which traces the implications of all new media, from fan fiction to collective intelligence.
There’s a wealth of free information out there waiting to be stored away in your mind. During times of economic stress, many people turn to furthering their education as a back-up plan. You can access the U.S. Department of Education’s weekly newsletter from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education to find out the current news in adult and continuing education. Search for schools, colleges and libraries in your area on the National Center for Education Statistics website.
If nothing tickles your fancy on this list, don’t give up! Check on Berkley’s website for archives of previous classes in just about every subject. You can also call your local colleges or library to see if there are any online or in-person open courses for continuing education.
It’s one of the most brutal crimes that could be perpetrated on you, sometimes even worse than murder because you live to relive the experience through your entire life. It’s horrific because you have been overpowered by one or more persons who subdue you using sheer physical strength and then violate your body. And it’s terrible that you have to go through a trial where you’re made to recollect your worst memories and even have defense lawyers try to attack your morality.
Before the discovery of DNA, it was hard to prove rape cases conclusively. It was the word of the victim against that of the perpetrator – one alleged the other to be the criminal and the other denied it. Finally, it was the more skillful lawyer who decided who won. Today though, with the advances that have been made in the field of forensic medicine, it’s easy to determine who is lying.
Take the case of Armand Villasana who was accused by Judith Lummis of kidnap, rape and sodomy in 1998 and convicted of the same a year later. Lummis described him to a police profiler who drew a picture of the suspect; she later picked Villasana from a lineup. He was convicted following testimony from Lummis.
However, during Villasana’s hearing in 2000, thanks to DNA testing and the efforts of a few relatives, the case against him was dismissed and he was released after a DNA profile constructed from a vaginal swab, the hospital sheet and Lummis’ pants proved conclusively that Villasana was not the perpetrator of the crime. This evidence had been left out of the initial trial, and although Lummis stuck to her story, Villasana was a free man. Free, but not cleared of the crime – a fact that makes a huge difference when you’re trying to fit in with society and move on with your life.
It took another seven years for Villasana to be vindicated completely – the DNA profile of another inmate turned out to match the sample that was preserved from this case, and the truth came tumbling out. Lummis was having an affair, a fact that she wanted hidden from her husband. So she lied about having been kidnapped and raped. Her boyfriend, who was now in prison for another crime, spilled the beans under interrogation, following which Lummis also confessed.
DNA evidence in rape cases has proved more than once that the truth will come to light, no matter how many years go by.
If there was one thing the television series “The X Files” did, it was to popularize the concept of the paranormal among us all. Watching Scully and Mulder go about their business on the X Files made us all believers of “a truth” that was out there. No matter what skeptics say and how much they scoff at the idea that there could be happenings that do not fall within the realm of scientific explanations, there’s no doubt that the paranormal does exist and that people have been affected by it.
How else could we explain the presence of ghostly apparitions that seem to haunt houses and people? We could dismiss these claims as the rampant imagination of a paranoid mind, but when more than one person feels the spirit in the same house, there must be something more to it.
If we take a closer look at the religious festivals of certain cultures, we would see that people, under the influence of religious or paranormal effects (call it what you will), are able to perform feats that they could not even think of under normal circumstances. There have been instances of people possessing incredible strength and performing acts like putting their hands in fire and the like.
One thing that most people do associate with the paranormal is the existence of UFOs, disks in the sky that are unexplained and so thought to be from another universe or planet. Most X File plot lines had the theme of alien abduction as a recurrent thread; people would be abducted, the aliens would perform experiments on them, and then send them back to Earth with a mind that was never going to be the same.
The thing with the paranormal is that people do not believe you when you tell them of your experiences. They think you are either faking it for the attention, or that you are paranoid and letting your imagination run away with you. Some even attribute such imaginations to the influence of series like the X Files and Eureka and movies that also deal with the paranormal, like The Exorcist.
But no matter what the rest of the world believes, if you are subject to paranormal experiences, only you know that there is a truth to it. The truth is not out there, but inside you!