You have got to hand it to The Great Courses (previously called The Teaching Company). Based in Chantilly, VA, the company has traveled across America, recording professors lecturing on great topics. They have roughly 390 courses in their catalog, market them aggressively with millions of print materials and emails, and generate $110 million in annual sales (as of 2010). It’s quite an accomplishment, especially given that consumers now have free alternatives — the ability to download 540 Free Courses recorded by world-class universities, and now lots of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that offer free lectures and certificates.
Free is good. But we readily admit that The Great Courses can be worth the cost, particularly if you buy their courses on sale. The lectures are generally engaging, well polished and certainly informative. And it just so happens that we’ve dug up 16 free lectures sponsored by the company. (Most are individual lectures taken from longer courses available for purchase online.) Give them a try and then decide whether free or paid is the way to go…
- Optimizing Brain Fitness: How Your Brain Works - Video - Richard Restak, George Washington University School of Medicine
- Inside the Hubble Space Telescope – Video - David M. Meyer, UCLA
- Great Tours: Greece and Turkey, from Athens to Istanbul - Video - John R. Hale, University of Louisville
- Will China and India Dominate the 21st Century Global Economy - LINK REMOVED AT THE REQUEST OF THE GREAT COURSES - Lee Branstetter, Carnegie Mellon
- Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures: Great Thin-Shell Structures - Video - Stephen Ressler, West Point
- Stride Toward Freedom - Audio - Dennis Dalton, Columbia University
- Secrets of Mental Math: How to Memorize Numbers - Video - Arthur Benjamin, Harvey Mudd College
- It’s All About the Calories! - Video - Roberta Anding, Baylor College of Medicine
- Revealing the Dead Sea Scrolls to the World - Video - Gary A. Rendsburg, Rutgers
- Ancient Origins of the Olympic Games - LINK REMOVED AT THE REQUEST OF THE GREAT COURSES - Jeremy McInerney, University of Pennsylvania
- The Search for What Killed the Dinosaurs – Audio – Peter Ward, University of Washington
- The Story Behind the D-Day Invasion – Audio - Thomas Childers, University of Pennsylvania
- Memory and the Brain - Video - Jeanette Norden, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- Voting: Determining the Will of the People – Video – Scott Stevens, James Madison University
- Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique – LINK REMOVED AT THE REQUEST OF THE GREAT COURSES - Robert Greenberg, San Francisco Performances
- Globalization of Capital Flows – Video – Timothy Taylor, Macalester College
Note: this is an update/expansion of a post originally published in September 2011.
Brain image above comes courtesy of BigStockPhoto.