A Free Online Economics Course
How would you like to study a economics course offered by an Ivy League university taught by one of the top economists in the world from the comfort of your home? And what if it was all completely free? Well, you can. Thanks to Yale’s open courses project and great technology, you can take part in a higher learning experience like no other.
With little more than a computer with internet access, you can view lectures, listen to audio, read transcripts, and print exams and notes right from your home. Here’s what you need to know so you can get started.
About the Course
Financial institutions are a pillar of civilized society, supporting people in their productive ventures and managing the economic risks they take on. The workings of these institutions are important to comprehend if we are to predict their actions today and their evolution in the coming information age. The course strives to offer understanding of the theory of finance and its relation to the history, strengths and imperfections of such institutions as banking, insurance, securities, futures, and other derivatives markets, and the future of these institutions over the next century.
What You’ll Need
To experience all aspects of the online course, you will at least need to make sure your computer is up to the task. Since the course has both audio and visual components, it is important to have the proper software installed so that you can take advantage of everything.
If reading is your style, you’ll need nothing more than a web browser as you can pull transcripts of the lectures right from the site. In addition, any slides used in the lecture are in regular PDF format. You can also get audio clips of the lectures which can be downloaded in MP3 format and are relatively small. But to get the full effect, you’ll probably want to watch the videos of the lectures. There are two different formats: Flash and Apple Quicktime. Obviously, you’d like to be using high-speed internet if possible, although there is a low-bandwidth Quicktime option. The high quality Quicktime versions will run many hundreds of megabytes in size, so keep that in mind. I was mostly playing around with the Flash version, and I found the quality to be just fine and it streamed without a hitch on my cable connection.
The course also requires a number of readings from various texts. There are some classics on the list as well as some new books. Unless you want to build up your personal library with books on economics, banking, and financial markets, you’re probably not going to want to buy them all. While you can often find used copies on Amazon for pretty cheap, you’ll probably have better luck by just going to your local library and checking out the books as you need them.
Take the Course
So with that, get out there and start learning. The good news is that you can study at your own pace, and you don’t have to worry about failing. And if you start reading and watching the lectures and find it’s just too much or not interesting to you, you’re not even out any money. So, if you’re looking to learn more about how the markets and broad economy works, give it a shot.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.