Take a Free Course on the Financial Markets with Robert Shiller, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

This morning, the Nobel Prize in Economic Science went to three American professors -- Eugene F. Fama (U. Chicago), Lars Peter Hansen (U. Chicago) and Robert J. Shiller (Yale) — "for their empirical analysis of asset prices." In his own way, each economist has demonstrated that "stock and bond prices move unpredictably in the short term but with greater predictability over longer periods," and that markets are "moved by a mix of rational calculus and human behavior," writes The New York Times.

Of the three economists, Robert Shiller is perhaps the most household name. In March 2000, Shiller published Irrational Exuberance, a book that warned that the long-running bull market was a bubble, that stock prices were being driven by human psychology, not real values. Weeks later, the market cracked and people began to pay attention to what Shiller had to say. Fast forward a few years, and Shiller released a second edition of the same book, this time arguing that the housing market was the latest and greatest bubble. We all know how that prediction played out.

Shiller's thinking about the financial markets isn't a mystery. It's all on display in his Yale course simply called Financial Markets. Available for free on YouTubeiTunes Video, and  Yale's web site, the 23 lecture-course provides an introduction to "behavioral finance principles" necessary to understand the functioning of the securities, insurance, and banking industries. Recorded in 2011, the course is otherwise listed in the Economics section of our collection of 1200 Free Online Courses. You can watch all of the lectures above, starting with Lecture 1. By following these links, you can find the course syllabus, an outline of the weekly sessions, and a book list.

Personal Note: About 10 years ago, I worked with Prof. Shiller on developing an online course. Two things I recall about him. First, he struck me as being a very down-to-earth and unassuming guy. A pleasure to work with. Second, we had some time to kill one day, and so I asked him (circa 2005) whether it was crazy to buy a house. I mean, I had the guru sitting in front of me, in a chatty mood. What did I get? Bupkis: "You know, it just depends..."  It wasn't a bullish sign. So I took it to mean "Stay on the sidelines, kid." In 2007, it seemed like sound advice.

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Yale’s Open Courses Inspire a New Series of Old-Fashioned Books

Last month we reported on Yale's addition of seven new online courses to its growing roster of free offerings. Now we've learned that Yale is inaugurating a new series of books based on its popular open courses.

"It may seem counterintuitive for a digital project to move into books and e-books, because these are a much more conventional way of publishing," Open Yale Courses founding project director Diana E.E. Kleiner told The Chronicle of Higher Education last week. But the books are in keeping with Open Yale's mission of "reaching out in every way that we could."

Yale University Press is bringing out the first six titles this year. The paperbacks are priced at roughly $12 on Amazon, with e-book editions going for closer to $10.  The first three volumes--Theory of Literature by Paul H. Fry, New Testament History and Literature by Dale B. Martin, and Death by Shelly Kagan--are available now, while three additional titles--The Moral Foundations of Politics by Ian Shapiro, Introduction to the Bible by Christine Hayes, and Political Philosophy by Steven B. Smith--will be published later this year. The publisher says the books are "designed to bring the depth and breadth of a Yale education to a wide variety of readers."

For more open education resources, take a moment to explore our collection of 450 free online courses from top universities.

Yale Introduces Another Seven Free Online Courses, Bringing Total to 42

It's April, which means it's time for a new batch of Open Courses from Yale University. The latest release adds another six courses to the mix, bringing Yale's total to 42. We have listed the new additions below, and also added them to our ever-growing list of 450 Free Online Courses. As always, Yale gives you access to their courses in multiple formats. You can generally download their lectures via YouTube, iTunes or Yale's Open Course web site.

Note: Earlier this week, my local NPR station featured a big conversation about Disruptive Innovation in Higher Education. Guests included Salman Khan (Khan Academy), Sebastian Thrun (Udacity), Anant Agarwal (MITx) and Ben Nelson (The Minerva Project). You can listen to their wide-ranging conversation here.

French in Action: Cult Classic French Lessons from Yale (52 Episodes) Available Online

During the 1980s, Pierre Capretz, a Yale professor, developed French in Action, a French immersion program that featured textbooks, workbooks, and a 52-episode television series. Aired on PBS, the television series gained a devoted following and, years later, a 25th anniversary celebration at Yale asked the question: Is it fair to say that French in Action now has a cult following?

You can watch French in Action for free online at the Annenberg Learner website. (Scroll down the page to find the videos.) The program follows the adventures of Robert Taylor, an American student, and Mireille Belleau, a young French woman. And each 30 minute episode provides a context for learning new words and expressions. (A couple of episodes generated a little controversy, we should note.) The show is conducted entirely in French.

French in Action appears in our collection of Free Language Lessons, which now offers primers in over 40 languages, including Spanish, Mandarin, Italian and beyond.

Financial Markets Course with Yale Sage Robert Shiller

In March 2000, Yale economist Robert Shiller published Irrational Exuberance, a book that warned that the long-running bull market was a bubble. Weeks later, the market cracked and Shiller was the new guru. Fast forward a few years, and Shiller released a second edition of the same book, this time arguing that the housing market was the latest and greatest bubble. We all know how that prediction played out.

Unlike most of the financial industry, Shiller isn't locked into a perennially bullish view, bent on pumping the market despite what the real numbers suggest. And that should give students, whether young or old, some confidence in his free course simply called "Financial Markets." Available on the web in multiple formats (YouTube – iTunes Audio – iTunes VideoYale Web Site), the 26 lecture-course covers the inner-workings of financial institutions that ideally "support people in their productive ventures" and help them manage economic risks. You can start with Lecture 1 here. Above, we present his introductory lecture on Stocks.

Finally (and separately) you can get Shiller's thoughts on how to handle America's big debt mess here. It was recorded in recent days.

Shiller's course appears in the Economics section of our big collection of Free Online Courses. 385 courses in total. Don't miss them.

Tom Hanks Addresses the Yale Class of 2011

For Class Day 2011, Harvard had comedian Amy Poehler, and Yale had Tom Hanks -- two figures who have a whole lot more entertainment value than the speaker at my graduation -- the Assistant County Coroner. Dead serious! Pun only halfway intended. Anyway, I digress. Today, we're featuring Tom Hanks, the two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor, who starts funny, but then turns a little serious, reminding graduates, à la F.D.R., that essentially "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Not a bad talk overall, but we're still most partial to Steve Job's Stanford talk from 2005. Our hands-down favorite...

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Yale Rolls Out 10 New Courses – All Free

This week, Yale University rolled out its latest batch of open courses. This release, the first since October 2009, features 10 new courses, and brings the total number to 35. Find the complete list here.

We have listed the new additions below, and added them to our ever-growing list of 350 Free Online Courses. As always, Yale gives you access to their courses in multiple formats. You can download lectures (usually in audio and video) from iTunes, or directly from the Yale web site. And then, of course, YouTube is a good third option...

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