Get Unlimited Access to 3,000+ Courses for $1: Sign Up for Coursera’s Black Friday Special (Available Until December 4)


The pandemic has lessened the appeal, such as it was, of going out to shop on Black Friday. Of course, for a while there, it precluded the possibility of going out for any reason, even an educational one. Thus the past year or two has seen many all over the world discover the appeal of online learning. Of the platforms already active in that sector, Coursera has perhaps most enthusiastically collaborated with established universities and other educational institutions. The site offers, as previously featured here on Open Culture, University of Michigan’s writing and editing program, the Museum of Modern Art’s contemporary-art courses, Google’s information-technology career-certificate programs, and a good deal more besides.

This Black Friday, Coursera is offering a deal: for $1 you can get a month of Coursera Plus, which grants “unlimited access to 3,000+ world-class courses, hands-on projects, and job-ready certificate programs.” As Lead Product Manager Anubhav Chopra writes on the Coursera Blog, “Whether you have a long-term career goal that requires a wide variety of courses across multiple subject areas, or you’re a lifelong learner who’s constantly exploring for both personal and professional development, Coursera Plus provides the flexibility to pursue your learning goals.” Among the courses available to its users Chopra highlights the University of Michigan’s “Programming for Everybody,” Yale’s “The Science of Well-Being,” and Princeton’s “Algorithms, Part I.”

While many of Coursera’s high-profile offerings have to do with computers and other forms of technology, its complete list of courses and specializations (some of which award official certificates upon completion) range quite widely. At the cost of $1 for the first month of Coursera Plus (and $59 per month thereafter), you’ll be able easily to sample a variety of learning experiences and better understand your own ideal direction of intellectual and professional development. Among user favorites you’ll find graphic design, creative writing, music production, investment management, and even “First Step Korean” — from which, having lived in Seoul for years, I can confirm that many an expatriate would benefit. As for what would benefit you, you’ll just have to sign up and find out while Black Friday lasts.

Note: The Black Friday deal, which gives you access to 3,000+ courses, begins on November 21 and lasts until December 4, 2021.

Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities 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.

Cornel West Teaches You How to Think Like a Philosopher

Cornel West has never shied away from disagreement, which is one of the qualities that has kept him prominent as a public intellectual for decades. Another is his intense, even lyrical style of expressing those disagreements — and everything else he has to say besides. In his academic career he’s built a reputation as not exactly the average professor, as his former students at Harvard, Yale, Princeton University, the University of Paris, and other schools have experienced first-hand. Now, online education platform Masterclass has made his distinctive pedagogy available to anyone willing to pay USD $20-per-month membership price with its brand new course “Cornel West Teaches Philosophy.”

“This class revolves around three fundamental questions,” West says in the trailer above. First, “What does it mean to be human?” Second, “What are the forms of love that constitute the best of our humanity: love of truth, love of goodness, love of beauty?” Third, “How does community, tradition, heritage shape and mold our conceptions of who we are as human beings?”




This material, one senses, will be less straightforwardly practical than in some other Masterclasses; but then, is there any viewer to whom it could be irrelevant? Whatever our particular field of endeavor, each of us is, as West puts it, “a featherless, two-legged, linguistically conscious creature, born between urine and feces, whose body will soon be the culinary delight of terrestrial worms.”

Yet in West’s view, we can also reach toward higher things. This requires the proper attitude toward wisdom, the love of which is at the root of the very term philosophy: hence the lessons in West’s Masterclass dedicated to “How to Think Like a Philosopher” and “How Philosophy Serves Humanity.” Later he goes deeper, and at one point even “unsettles the mind and empowers the soul by illuminating the delicate interplay between hope, optimism, and despair.” Carrying on the expansive tradition of W. E. B. Du Bois, West has created a role for himself that encompasses the work of academic, activist, public intellectual, and even music-lover. For his dedicated listeners and readers, his lesson on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and the “jazz-like conception of philosophy” it encourages will surely be worth Masterclass’ price of admission alone. Explore the course here.

Note: 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 Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

Metallica Teaches a New Masterclass on How to Build & Sustain a Band

Since its launch in 2015, Masterclass has not only expanded the variety of its online course offerings but sought out ever-bigger names for its teachers. Names don’t come much bigger than Metallica in the world of heavy metal, and indeed in the world of rock music in general. Hence the broad title of the new Masterclass “Metallica Teaches Being a Band.” Having been a band for 40 years now, they presumably know more than a little about everything involved in that enterprise: not just recording hit albums like Master of Puppets and songs like “Enter Sandman,” but also weathering dramatic changes in both the music business and popular culture while cooperating for the good of the group.

Not that, to the men of Metallica, such cooperation has always come naturally. “There’ve been times when it’s been fractured and it looks like we were on the verge of breaking up,” says guitarist Kirk Hammett in the trailer for their Masterclass above.




He joined the band in 1983, which means he has very nearly as long a standing in the band as its founders, lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. All of them, along with bassist Robert Trujillo, appear here as teachers to share their accumulated wisdom, have to do as it may with songwriting, performance, interpersonal communication, or the management of time and anger.

Like all Masterclasses, Metallica’s course is divided into many easily watchable video lessons, most with a practical slant. Musically inclined viewers, even those with no interest in becoming heavy-metal icons, will benefit from learning to work “From Riff to Song,” the principles of “Putting Together an Album,” and the art of “Navigating Egos.” But for Metallica fans in particular — whom, collectively, the band consider their fifth member — few lessons in any Masterclass could be as gripping as the deconstructions of “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets,” and “One.” They do all this in a calmer, more reflective psychological place than the bitter, near-dysfunctional one in which the 2004 documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster found them — but not so calm and reflective that they can’t finish the course off with, as Hammett puts it, “a bad-ass performance.”

When you sign up to become a Masterclass member ($180 per year), you will have access to Metallica’s course plus 100 others.

Note: 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 Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

The Human Brain: A Free Online Course from MIT

From MIT comes The Human Brain, a series of 18 lectures presented by Professor Nancy Kanwisher. They’re from a course that “surveys the core perceptual and cognitive abilities of the human mind and asks how they are implemented in the brain. Key themes include the representations, development, and degree of functional specificity of these components of mind and brain. The course will take students straight to the cutting edge of the field, empowering them to understand and critically evaluate empirical articles in the current literature.”

Watch all of the lectures above, and find them added to our list of Free Biology Courses, a subset of our collection 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Good with Words: A Series of Writing & Editing Courses from the University of Michigan

We’ve all used words just about as long as we’ve been alive. This obvious truth, alas, has led too many of us into the delusion that we’re good with words: that we’re good speakers and, even more commonly and less justifiably, that we’re good writers. Yet anyone who’s seen or heard much of how words are used in the realms of business and academia — to say nothing of personal correspondence — does understand, on some level, the true rarity of these skills. Now, those of us who recognize the need to shore up our own skills can do so through Good with Words, a specialization in writing and editing now offered by the University of Michigan through online education platform Coursera.

Good with Words comprises individual courses on word choice and word order, structure and organization, drafting, and revising. Here to teach them is Michigan Law School Clinical Assistant Professor of Law Patrick Barry, of whose lecturing style you can get a taste in this Youtube playlist collecting clips of a writing workshop held for Michigan Law students in 2014. In the clip above, he takes on the common problem of verbal clutter, working from the definition originally laid out by On Writing Well author William Zinsser (whose ten writing tips we previously featured here on Open Culture). In other brief views, Barry touches on everything from the power of description and sentence flow to facts versus truths and zombie nouns.

In one workshop clip, Barry reminds his students that, in order to write good sentences, they must read good sentences. This point bears repeating, and indeed Barry repeats it in his Coursera course, the relevant excerpt of which you can view here. “A young writer must read,” he quotes Colum McCann declaring in the book Letters to a Young Writer. “She must read and read and read. Adventurously. Promiscuously. Unfailingly.” But taking a course as well couldn’t hurt, especially when, as with Good with Words, it can be audited for free. (Coursera also offers a paid option for students who would like to receive a certificate upon completing the specialization.) Barry offers plenty of example sentences, good and less so, but the true writers among us will never stop looking for their own, even after Good with Words‘ suggested four-month duration is over.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

A 10-Course Introduction to Data Science from Johns Hopkins

Data is now everywhere. And those who can harness data effectively stand poised to innovate and make impactful decisions. This holds true in business, medicine, healthcare, education and other spheres of life.

Enter the 10-course Introduction to Data Science from Johns Hopkins. Offered on the Coursera platform, this course sequence covers “the concepts and tools you’ll need throughout the entire data science pipeline, from asking the right kinds of questions to making inferences and publishing results.” The program includes courses covering The Data Scientist’s Toolbox, R Programming, Getting and Cleaning Data, Developing Data Products and more. There’s also a Capstone Project where students can build a data product using real-world data.

Students can formally enroll in the Introduction to Data Science specialization and receive a certificate for each course they complete–a certificate they can share with prospective employers and their professional networks. They’ll also leave with a portfolio demonstrating mastery of the material covered in the sequence. Hopkins estimates that most learners can complete the sequence in 3-7 months, during which time students will be charged $49 per month.

Alternatively, students can audit individual courses for free. When you enroll in a course, look carefully for the Audit option. Note: Auditors cannot receive a certificate for each completed course.

If would like to formally enroll in the Introduction to Data Science sequence, you can start a 7-Day Free Trial and size things up here.

Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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During the pandemic, Google launched a series of Career Certificates that will “prepare learners for an entry-level role in under six months.” The new career initiative includes certificates concentrating on Project Management and UX Design. And now also Data Analytics, a burgeoning field that focuses on “the collection, transformation, and organization of data in order to draw conclusions, make predictions, and drive informed decision making.”

Offered on the Coursera platform, the Data Analytics Professional Certificate consists of eight courses, including “Foundations: Data, Data, Everywhere,” “Prepare Data for Exploration,” “Data Analysis with R Programming,” and “Share Data Through the Art of Visualization.” Overall this program “includes over 180 hours of instruction and hundreds of practice-based assessments, which will help you simulate real-world data analytics scenarios that are critical for success in the workplace. The content is highly interactive and exclusively developed by Google employees with decades of experience in data analytics.”




Upon completion, students–even those who haven’t pursued a college degree–can directly apply for jobs (e.g., junior or associate data analyst, database administrator, etc.) with Google and over 130 U.S. employers, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Astreya. You can start a 7-day free trial and explore the courses here. If you continue beyond the free trial, Google/Coursera will charge $39 USD per month. That translates to about $235 after 6 months, the time estimated to complete the certificate.

Explore the Data Analytics Certificate by watching the video above. Learn more about the overall Google career certificate initiative here. And find other Google professional certificates here.

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MoMA’s Online Courses Let You Study Modern & Contemporary Art and Earn a Certificate

The labels “modern art” and “contemporary art” don’t easily pull apart from one another. In a strictly historical sense, the former refers to art produced in the era we call modernity, beginning in the mid-19th century. And according to its etymology, the latter refers to art produced at the same time as something else: there is art “contemporary” with, say, the Italian Renaissance, but also art “contemporary” with our own lives. You’ll have a much clearer idea of this distinction — and of what people mean when they use the relevant terms today — if you take the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization, a set of courses from the Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA) in New York.

Offered on the online education platform Coursera, the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization promises to “introduce you to the art of our time.” In its first course, Modern Art & Ideas, you’ll learn “how artists have taken inspiration from their environment and responded to social issues over the past 150 years.”




In the second, Seeing through Photographs (whose trailer appears above), you’ll explore photography “from its origins in the mid-1800s through the present.” The third, What Is Contemporary Art?, introduces works of the past four decades “ranging from 3-D-printed glass and fiber sculptures to performances in a factory.” The final course, Fashion as Design, affords the opportunity to “learn from makers working with clothing every day — and, in some cases, reinventing it for the future.”

You can view the entire Contemporary Art and Design Specialization for free, by “auditing” its courses. Alternatively, you can join the paid track, which costs $39 USD per month, which at Coursera’s suggested pace of seven months to complete (including a “hands-on project” for each course) comes out to $273 overall. Then, when you finish the specialization, you’ll “earn a Certificate that you can share with prospective employers and your professional network.” Whether you go the audit or certificate route, you’ll earn an understanding of “modern art” and “contemporary art” as they’re created and regarded here in the 21st century: the era deep into modernity in which we live, and one in which the boundaries of art itself — not just the adjectives preceding it — show no sign of ceasing to expand.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses and programs, it helps support Open Culture.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

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