17 June 2011

Have You Heard About Great Courses??

Posted by Dan Satterfield

This post is a free advert for a company you probably have never heard of. It’s called the Great Courses and they do something very unique, they sell lectures! It’s one of those type ideas that people  wish they had thought of first; Take the greatest professors and record in a studio their lectures and then sell them to people who love learning.

There is an added benefit too, you don’t have to take the tests that their tuition paying students do!

Dr. Bob Brier makes Egyptian history come alive.

Think about this for a minute, and you start to get the idea; We’ve all had a brilliant professor from our college days that we remember years later. Mine was Dr. Duane Roller who taught History of Science at the Univ. of Oklahoma. He was so fabulous that people who were not enrolled in the course used to sneak in! At the end of the course, the entire class gave him a standing ovation!

There are some amazing educators out there and since we all cannot get into Harvard or MIT, (or afford it if we did!) this is the next best thing. I’ve a whole stack of courses from these folks and I have enjoyed every single set. My wife made me grab something not science related, and it has opened a whole new world of knowledge for me on classical music and wait for it… ancient Egypt! Neither subject really excited me before, but oh how things have changed!

Here are two recommendations for trying them out. First is the introductory course on the Pharaohs of Egypt by Bob Brier. Brier is a professor at Long Island University and from the first seconds of the first lecture, he has you hooked. I would rank him in the top two professors I have ever watched! Even if you think history is as dead as a rusty Egyptian door nail, he will show you otherwise. I am asking for his entire History of Ancient Egypt course for Christmas!

The second recommendation is on classical music, and the professor here is also just amazing. He’s the second of my top two all time and his name is Dr. Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory. Start with his 8 lectures on Beethoven. I’m presently going through his 48 lecture series on Understanding Great Music and it’s a real eye opener!

You may be wondering what these lectures cost , and I will tell you they are rather expensive but here is the little secret. They go on sale frequently for about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost. Just watch the website and pounce when a sale hits. They also give discounts to good customers as I’ve found out.

Just to be clear, I’m getting nothing for writing this; I just want to let you know that these lectures are worth every penny.

So, turn off the guns and violence on the cable box, or that same movie you have seen a dozen times and learn something fascinating! Oh, and I have written before about Alex Filippenko’s online lectures in Astronomy, well they have him as well! The set on black holes is superb. Great Courses has everything from Particle Physics to Philosophy and all taught by the best, and you set the class time.

Special note to Dr. Greenberg: I think it may be illegal for an Okie to appreciate Opera, but you have succeeded in doing just that for me!