8 Trendsetting Online Courses You Should Enroll In

best online coursesCoursera, a company that offers online courses, quadrupled their partnerships this past week and gained 119 free online courses from top universities, including California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Georgia Institute of Technology, John Hopkins University, Rice University, UC San Francisco, University of Illinois, University of Washington and the University of Virginia as equity investors.

The courses will be available to anyone with a computer and Internet access. Upon completion of a course, most universities will offer certifications at the discretion of the professor and the college.

But most importantly, this is just a phenomenal opportunity to reignite your mind and start learning again. Below is a list of distance education universities & institutions and some of the most novel courses now offered through Coursera, courtesy of USAToday and Inside Higher Ed.

Neural Networks for Machine Learning

  • School: Johns Hopkins University
  • Instructor: Dr. Kevin Frick
  • Workload: 7-9 hours/week

How do machines learn? This computer-science class takes a look at advanced learning methods concerning artificial neural networks. These networks, as opposed to basic algorithms, use algorithms inspired by how our own brains learn. The course will look at how these new methods are being applied to current machine-learning applications such as speech, object recognition, image segmentation, human emotion and what’s required to apply these procedures to other domains.

Principles of Obesity Economics

  • School: Johns Hopkins University
  • Instructor: Dr. Kevin Frick
  • Workload: 3-5 hours/week

Are consumer choices influences by preferences, relative prices, and time and money constraints? This course looks at how consumer choice leads to weight differences in individuals, and whether there’s reason for government intervention in personal choices related to obesity.


  • School: Stanford University
  • Instructor: Dr. Dan Boneh
  • Workload: 5-7 hours/week

How is valuable information protected in computer systems? Even when this information is protected, is it still vulnerable? This class examines a number of topics surrounding data protection including cryptographic primitives, public key encryption, digital signatures, authentication protocols, secure auctions, privacy mechanisms, and how to apply this knowledge to real world applications.

Modern & Contemporary American Poetry

  • School: University of Pennsylvania
  • Instructor: Dr. Al Filreis
  • Workload: 5-8 hours/week

From Dickinson and Whitman to the present. This fast-paced poetry course aims to introduce students to a wide range of modern and contemporary poets, including a course on how to read, interpret, and appreciate complex poetry. The selected authors and works also provide an understanding of general cultural transition from modernism to postmodernism.

Experimental Genome Science

  • School: University of Pennsylvania
  • Instructor: John Hogenesch, John Isaac Murray
  • Workload: 6-8 hours/week

The course serves as a helpful introduction to experimental genomics. Themes covered in the course include genomes, genetics, functional genomics, systems biology,

single cell approaches, proteomics, as well as ethical conceptual dimensions of experimental genome science in biomedical research. The course begins by looking at the basic underpinnings of DNA sequencing and the genome project, past and present. The course concludes with an overview of the “high throughput sequencing” genome method, as well as the central problem concerning philosophers of biology, being: “What exactly is a gene?”

Think Again: How To Reason and Argue

  • School: Duke University
  • Instructor: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ram Neta
  • Workload: 5-6 hours/week

This course teaches students how to reason and argue— and how to do it well. Students learn important rules regarding how to think about any topic at all, and some common mistakes to avoid in reasoning. Professors discuss how to identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments by other people. Once this is accomplished, the course turns toward how to construct arguments in order to help students decide what to believe, what to do, and how to appropriately respond to faulty arguments.

Introduction to Astronomy

  • School: Duke University
  • Instructor: Ronen Plesser
  • Workload: 6-8 hours/week

In this class, you will be studying everything in the universe. Starting with “classical” astronomy and describing the night sky. Studying the Solar System, Milky Way, and the wonderful and strange objects we observe in deep space, such as black holes, quasars, and supernovae. The course will conclude with some discussion of what scientists know today about the universe as a whole.

Along the way, you will be introduced to some of the methods— theoretical and experimental, that have been used to understand all of this; from the Newton laws, through our understanding of light and matter, to Einstein’s theory of relativity, and from Galileo’s telescope to WMAP.

Introduction to Digital Sound Design

  • School: Emory University
  • Instructor: Steve Everett
  • Workload: 3-4 hours/week

This course provides an oversight of the fundamental principles of sound— where sound and music are influential in our society, and the factors that determine audio perception. The course explores recording techniques, mixing, processing, synthesis, sampling, analysis, and editing of digital audio—all of which can be done using free digital music software for Mac and PC. Students learn numerous sound design and editing techniques for use in a broad array of applications, including film and web-based media, art installations, soundscape creations, or live and Internet music performances.