Billy Collins Teaches Poetry in a New Online Course

In its latest release, Masterclass has launched a new course, "Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry," which they describe in the trailer above and the text below. You can sign up here. The cost is $90. Or pay $180 and get an annual pass to their entire catalogue of courses covering a wide range of subjects--everything from filmmaking (Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese), to acting (Helen Mirren) and creative writing (Margaret Atwood), to taking photographs (Annie Leibovitz) and writing plays (David Mamet). Each course is taught by an eminent figure in their field.

Known for his wit, humor, and profound insight, Billy is one of the best-selling and most beloved contemporary poets in the United States. He regularly sells out poetry readings, frequently charms listeners on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, and his work has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and periodicals around the world.

Called “America’s Favorite Poet” by the Wall Street Journal, Billy served two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate and is also a former New York State Poet Laureate. He’s been honored with the Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry and a number of prestigious fellowships. He’s taught at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, and Lehman College, and he’s also a distinguished professor at the City University of New York. Now he’s teaching his first-ever MasterClass.

In his MasterClass on Reading and Writing Poetry, Billy teaches you the building blocks of poems and their unique power to connect reader and writer. From subject and form to rhyme and meter, learn to appreciate the pleasures of a well-turned poem. Discover Billy’s philosophy on the craft of poetry and learn how he creates a poet’s persona, incorporates humor, and lets imagination lead the way. By breaking down his own approach to composing poetry and enjoying the work of others, Billy invites students to explore the gifts poetry has to offer.

In this online poetry class, you’ll learn about:
• Using humor as a serious strategy
• The fundamental elements of poetry
• Billy’s writing process
• Turning a poem
• Exploring subjects
• Rhyme and meter
• Sound pleasures
• Finding your voice
• Using form to engage readers
• The visual distinctions of poetry

FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

Journalism Under Siege: A Free Course from Stanford Explores the Imperiled Freedom of the Press

This past fall, Stanford Continuing Studies and the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships teamed up to offer an important course on the challenges facing journalism and the freedom of the press. Called Journalism Under Siege? Truth and Trust in a Time of Turmoil, the five-week course featured 28 journalists and media experts, all offering insights on the emerging challenges facing the media across the United States and the wider world. The lectures/presentations are now all online. Find them below, along with the list of guest speakers, which includes Alex Stamos who blew the whistle on Russia's manipulation of the Facebook platform during the 2016 election. Journalism Under Siege will be added to our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Weekly Sessions:

  • Week 1 –  First Draft of History: How a Free Press Protects Freedom; Part OnePart Two
  • Week 2 –  Power to the People: Holding the Powerful Accountable; Part OnePart Two
  • Week 3 – Picking Sides? How Journalists Cover Bias, Intolerance and Injustice; Part OnePart Two
  • Week 4 – The Last Stand of Local News; Part OnePart Two
  • Week 5 – The Misinformation Society; Part OnePart Two

Guest Speakers:

  • Hannah Allam, national reporter, BuzzFeed News
  • Roman Anin, investigations editor, Novaya Gazeta, Moscow
  • Hugo Balta, president, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
  • Sally Buzbee, executive editor, Associated Press (AP)
  • Neil Chase, executive editor, San Jose Mercury News
  • Audrey Cooper, editor-in-chief, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Jenée Desmond-Harris, staff editor, NYT Opinion, New York Times
  • Jiquanda Johnson, founder and publisher, Flint Beat
  • Joel Konopo, managing partner, INK Centre for Investigative Journalism, Gaborone, Botswana
  • Richard Lui, anchor, MSNBC and NBC News
  • Geraldine Moriba, former vice president for diversity and inclusion, CNN
  • Bryan Pollard, president, Native American Journalists Association
  • Cecile Prieur, deputy editor, Le Monde, Paris
  • Joel Simon, executive director, Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Alex Stamos, former Facebook chief security officer
  • Marina Walker Guevara, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for coordinating the Panama Papers investigation

 

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Oxford’s Free Course Critical Reasoning For Beginners Teaches You to Think Like a Philosopher

Image by Pablo Fernández, via Flickr Commons

When I was younger, I often found myself disagreeing with something I’d read or heard, but couldn't explain exactly why. Despite being unable to pinpoint the precise reasons, I had a strong sense that the rules of logic were being violated. After I was exposed to critical thinking in high school and university, I learned to recognize problematic arguments, whether they be a straw man, an appeal to authority, or an ad hominem attack. Faulty arguments are all-pervasive, and the mental biases that underlie them pop up in media coverage, college classes, and armchair theorizing. Want to learn how to avoid them? Look no further than Critical Reasoning For Beginners, a top rated collection of lectures led by Oxford University’s Marianne Talbot.

Talbot builds the course from the ground up, and begins by explaining that arguments consist of a set of premises that, logically linked together, lead to a conclusion. She proceeds to outline the way to lay out an argument logically and clearly, and eventually, the basic steps involved in assessing its strengths and weaknesses.

The six-part series, which was recorded in 2009, shows no sign of wear, and Talbot, unlike some philosophy professors, does a terrific job of making the content digestible. If you’ve got some time on your hands, the lectures, which average just over an hour in length, can be finished in less than a week. That's peanuts, if you consider that all of our knowledge is built on the foundations that this course establishes. If you haven’t had the chance to be exposed to a class on critical thought, I can’t recommend Critical Reasoning For Beginners with enough enthusiasm: there are few mental skills that are as underappreciated, and as central to our daily lives, as critical thinking.

Critical Reasoning For Beginners is currently available on the University of Oxford website in both audio and video formats, and also on iTunes and YouTube. You can find it listed in our collection of Free Online Philosophy Courses, part of our collection of 1300 Free Online Courses from top universities.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

Ilia Blinderman is a Montreal-based culture and science writer. Follow him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writing at the Huffington Post.

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David Lynch Teaches an Online Course on Film & Creativity

How many of us became David Lynch fans while first watching one of his films? And how many of those fans also left filled with the desire to make a film themselves? Though the long-circulating term "Lynchian" puts a name to Lynch's distinctively stimulating and disturbing cinematic style, it increasingly seems that no filmmaker, no matter how skilled, can quite pull off that style but Lynch himself. But even if you can never be the man who directed the likes of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive (and co-created the similarly inimitable television series Twin Peaks), you can still learn a great deal about filmmaking from him that you can't learn from anyone else.

Now online education company MasterClass has made some of his knowledge easily accessible in the form of their new course "David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film." In Lynch's world — unlike Hollywood in general — you can't make a film without creativity. But of what does creativity consist? "Ideas are everything," says Lynch in the trailer for his MasterClass above. "We're nothing without an idea. So I go where the ideas lead." He has long liked to make an analogy with fishing: you put a piece of bait on a hook, cast your line out into the world, and wait for an idea to bite. Different idea-fishing methods work for different people, and Lynch has spoken of his success with drinking a milkshake at Bob's Big Boy every day for seven years, and even more so with decade after decade of twice-daily meditation.

However you fish for ideas, "you don't know when they're going to come or what will trigger them. Lo and behold, on a lucky day, bingo, you'll catch an idea, and... party time." Lynch also drops an unexpectedly practical piece of advice to do with all this in the trailer: "If you want to make a feature-length film, all you need to do is get 70 ideas." Then you take those 70 ideas, write them on cards, and put the cards in order — and not necessarily in a narratively conventional order. "In cinema, I don't like rules," Lynch says, a statement that will surprise neither his boosters nor his detractors. He covers that territory in the eleventh lesson of his MasterClass, which explains the difference between "restrictions that stifle creativity from those that actually help you to think outside the box." Other lessons get into "how to approach a blank page," "how to identify and recognize the right performer for a part," and "how David handles the pressures of the set while protecting a creative space for the cast and crew."

A final "bonus chapter" offers Lynch's views on transcendental meditation, a practice that has taught him "to approach life and work with deeper awareness" and "enjoy the 'doing' of almost any activity." That sets "David Lynch Teaches Creativity and Film" apart from the other filmmaking courses Masterclass offers, taught by such an intellectually and aesthetically varied set of luminaries as Martin Scorsese, Ken Burns, Jodie Foster, Spike Lee, and Werner Herzog. You can take all of those, and any other Masterclass besides, with the site's $180 "all-access pass," or just this one course for $90. And even if you don't, you'd do pretty well to take with you into your filmmaking career the words by which Lynch himself has clearly lived: "Never give up final cut and total creative freedom."

FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Artificial Intelligence for Everyone: An Introductory Course from Andrew Ng, the Co-Founder of Coursera

If you follow edtech, you know the name Andrew Ng. He's the Stanford computer science professor who co-founded MOOC-provider Coursera and later became chief scientist at Baidu. Since leaving Baidu, he's been working on several artificial intelligence projects, including a series of Deep Learning courses that he unveiled in 2017. And now comes AI for Everyone--an online course that makes artificial intelligence intelligible to a broad audience.

In this largely non-technical course, students will learn:

  • The meaning behind common AI terminology, including neural networks, machine learning, deep learning, and data science.
  • What AI realistically can--and cannot--do.
  • How to spot opportunities to apply AI to problems in your own organization.
  • What it feels like to build machine learning and data science projects.
  • How to work with an AI team and build an AI strategy in an organization.
  • How to navigate ethical and societal discussions surrounding AI.

The four-week course takes about eight hours to complete. You can audit it for free. However if you want to earn a certificate--which you can then share on your LinkedIn profile, printed resumes and CVs--the course will run $49.

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Natalie Portman Teaches a MasterClass in Acting

This week, MasterClass rolled out its latest course--Natalie Portman teaching a 20-lesson class on acting. The upstart educational venture writes:

One of her generation’s most versatile performers, Academy Award-winning actor Natalie Portman has been captivating audiences for decades. Since her on-screen debut at age 12, she’s worked with some of cinema’s most celebrated directors and showcased her skills through unforgettable roles in Black Swan, Jackie, and the Star Wars franchise.

Having never taken an acting class, Natalie developed her craft over 25 years of observation, collaboration, and countless bold experiments. The consummate dramatic shapeshifter, she has worked across genres and historical periods, imbuing each performance with an authenticity she attributes to intense research, preparation, and an eye for human behavior.

And now, in her first-ever acting class, she "shows how empathy is at the core of every great performance, how to bring real-life details into every role, and how to build your own creative process."

You can enroll in Portman's new class (which runs $90) here. You can also pay $180 to get an annual pass to the entirety of MasterClass' courses--a catalog of about 50 courses, which includes other acting classes by Jodie Foster, Samuel L. Jackson and more.

FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

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Discover the Great Medieval Manuscript, the Book of Kells, in a Free Online Course

Last week, we called your attention to the digitization of the Book of Kells, one of the great manuscripts from the medieval period. The digitized manuscript, we should note, comes accompanied by another great resource--a free online course on the Book of Kells. Both digital initiatives are made possible by Trinity College Dublin.

The six-week course covers the following topics:

  • Where and how the manuscript was made
  • The social context from which the manuscript emerged, including early medieval faith and politics
  • The artistic context of the manuscript, reflecting local and international styles
  • The theology and interpretations of the text
  • How and why the manuscript survived
  • The Book of Kells and contemporary culture

The course "is for anyone with an interest in Ireland, medieval studies, history, art, religion and/or popular culture." Sign up for the free course today.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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