Website Advice: When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

This course covers both front-end web development and pure design concepts. It starts out covering some concepts in web design theory. You'll learn ...

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the United States, college students around the country are being asked to return home. Over 100 colleges have already announced that they are cancelling in-person classes, and many have even closed residence halls in an attempt to contain the virus.

That leaves plenty of students sitting at home with a lot more time on their hands. With no more frat parties to attend, what’s left to do?

If you’re stuck at home bored, why not take this opportunity to learn something new? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to speak Korean, or maybe you finally want to learn the basics of computer programming. Maybe you’d like to sharpen your photography skills.

Whatever subject you are interested in learning about, there is almost certainly an online course to help you get started. Websites like Coursera and edX make it possible to take online courses in almost any subject, taught by leading professors at top universities, without having to risk getting infected.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Here are some of The University Network’s favorite online courses to take while your university is closed.

Offered by Yonsei University, one of the top colleges in South Korea, this is designed for absolute beginners. This course consists of 5 lessons, covering skills like reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Through different types of quizzes and role-plays, this course will prepare you for everyday conversations in Korean. 

Note: Prices for all courses listed in this article are true on the date of publishing, but are subject to change.

Also offered by Yonsei University, this is designed for beginners, though previous familiarity with Hangul, the Korean alphabet, is preferred. Consisting of 6 lessons, this course covers vocabulary, grammar, and conversational expressions through video clips, quizzes, and a workbook. Other than the recorded materials, lecture notes, workbooks and vocab lists, which come with English, Chinese, and Japanese translations, are also provided. 

by Duke University teaches fundamental programming and web development concepts via JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. The course begins by covering principal concepts such as functions, for loops, and conditional statements. You’ll then quickly move into using HTML and CSS to build basic web pages before beginning to work with JavaScript to create interactive web pages. By the end of the course, you will have built an interactive web page where users can upload images and apply filters to them. Because this course is based around JavaScript, which is often called the language of the web, this course is primarily recommended for aspiring web developers.

is the online edition of Harvard University’s introductory computer science course, their largest class on campus. Students will work with four major programming languages: C, Python, SQL, and JavaScript plus CSS and HTML. But the course is much more than just a programming course. You will learn foundational computer science concepts such as abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and web development. If you’ve never programmed or taken a computer science course before, this is a great course for you. You’ll get a taste of a few main programming languages and learn not only how to program, but how programming works.

If you’re interested in web development, covers all you need to know to work in the field. The Specialization consists of five courses covering HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Designed for people with no background in computer science, it teaches these languages step by step. You will start out by learning how programming works and steadily begin to code, starting with HTML. Once you cover the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you will begin to work with some advanced web design concepts, such as responsive web design, which allows web pages to render well on a variety of devices and screens. The Specialization concludes with a capstone project, in which students design and develop a professional-quality web portfolio that functions on at least three platforms.

When web designers begin a project, they first have to develop a strategy based on the needs of their client and the site’s users. This phase requires research, developing a strategy, setting a timetable, structuring content, and general planning. “” is designed to teach students an effective workflow for this stage of the web design process. The course, offered by CalArts via Coursera, is part of a multi-course specialization on user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. UI/UX may include both web development and applications development. However, this course is primarily focused on designing responsive websites. You will learn about the typical workflow, best practices, and methodology of web design, and put your knowledge to the test in a project where you build a comprehensive plan for a website.

covers both front-end web development and pure design concepts. It starts out covering some concepts in web design theory. You’ll learn the principles of user experience and strategies for building navigable and functional websites. As you move on, you will put theory into practice and learn how to build designs using code and Bootstrap. You’ll learn to incorporate interactivity with JavaScript and learn how to add content to websites. The course also covers building basic web applications such as a photo gallery (or slider) and a search function.

If you have zero experience with web development, will bring you up to speed on the major concepts and technologies in front-end web development and design. The course is composed of five courses covering HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and responsive design using Bootstrap, in that order. Designed for people with no background in computer science, it teaches these languages step by step. You will start out by learning how programming works and steadily begin to code, starting with HTML. Once you cover the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you will begin to work with some advanced web design concepts, such as responsive web design, which allows web pages to render well on a variety of devices and screens. The Specialization concludes with a capstone project, in which students design and develop a professional-quality web portfolio that functions on at least three platforms.

This is the first of a two-part course by Princeton University on algorithms and data structures, with a focus on programming and problem-solving, with real-world examples and applications. covers data types, sorting, and searching. First, you will learn about a variety of data types including stacks, queues, bags, union-finds, and priority queues. You will subsequently move on to common sorting algorithms such as quicksort, mergesort, heapsort, and radix sorts. Finally, it covers search methods such as binary search trees, red-black binary search trees, and hash tables. You’ll also learn some basic algorithm analysis and learn how to measure the running time of programs and use mathematical models to explain their behavior. On its own, serves as a strong introduction to algorithms and data structures. If you’re interested in diving into more complex algorithms and data structures, consider moving onto the second module .

offered by the University of Pennsylvania via edX, is a four-week program that covers algorithms from scratch. Before taking the course, you should have a familiarity with Java, basic probability, and discrete mathematics. The course begins by covering relevant mathematical concepts as well as asymptotic analysis, recurrence relations, sorting and searching, and heaps and binary search trees. From there, you will study a few of the most common algorithm design paradigms, such as divide and conquer algorithms, dynamic programming, and greedy algorithms. You will then move on to graph algorithms, before ending with lessons on NP-completeness and approximation algorithms.

, offered by Stanford University via Coursera, is a comprehensive introduction to algorithms for students with basic programming experience. It consists of four separate courses and primarily approaches algorithms from a big picture and theoretical perspective. The program begins by covering commonly-used algorithms, including divide and conquer, sorting and searching, and randomized algorithms. As you move through each course, you’ll work with increasingly complex algorithms, data structures, and concepts, concluding with shortest paths, NP-completeness, and strategies for dealing with problems that can’t be solved efficiently with an algorithm.

, designed and taught by instructors from the University of Adelaide and available via edX, is an introductory course, focused specifically on data science programming. The course works with Processing.js, a JavaScript-based language used to write visualizations, images, and interactive content. You don’t need any experience with programming — you’ll learn Processing.js from scratch, including basic commands and concepts like sequencing, iteration, and selection. You’ll learn to create basic data visualization skills built from real-world datasets, which you will use to solve simple data science questions.

Offered by Johns Hopkins University via Coursera, is a comprehensive introduction to data science principles and practice. The specialization is designed for beginners. A basic familiarity with Python and statistics (specifically with regression) is recommended, but not necessary. The course consists of 10 courses, beginning with an overview on the key concepts and tools used in data science. Quickly, you will start learning the and working with real data sets, and cleaning and visualizing data. As you move through the course, you’ll learn about statistical inference and various data analysis methods. You’ll also work with some introductory machine learning concepts. The specialization concludes with a capstone, in which students build their own data product using real-world data sets.

from IBM is a comprehensive data science and machine learning program designed for beginners. The certificate covers data science theory as well as the most important tools and practices in modern data science. Throughout the program, you will work with technologies like Python and SQL to analyze data sets and perform data visualizations using Matplotlib, Seaborn, and Folium. The program also includes a full course on machine learning — one of the fastest growing areas of data science — and other lessons on principles of artificial intelligence. This program is particularly notable for its strong mix of practical and theoretical lessons. In addition to various technical courses, it also includes big picture courses that address the history of data science and, critically, data science methodology.

, offered by Duke University via Coursera, is designed to teach students not only JavaScript, but its sister languages HTML and CSS. These three languages are the foundations of all front-end development. When making a web page, HTML codes the text and images, CSS is used to stylize the HTML elements, and JavaScript makes the page dynamic and interactive. This course is oriented around learning each of these components from the ground up. By the end of the course, you will have a strong understanding of the foundations of web development. You will also be able to build an interactive web page where visitors can upload images and apply image filters.

, produced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and available via edX, is a very strong introduction to JavaScript as well as HTML and CSS. You will learn the fundamentals of JavaScript and practical tools for using it in real life. The course is also built around a series of projects, beginning with a HTML/CSS/JS web page and ending with a small application. You’ll learn how to incorporate JavaScript code into a website, build interactive websites using the DOM API, build basic graphics and animations, and more.

Offered by Duke University, this is a 5-course path structured to teach you the basics so that you can take your “first step towards a career in software development.” Specifically, you can expect to learn core programming concepts, how to write programs to solve complex problems, how to test and debug your programs, and much more. Upon completion of the specialization, you will earn a certificate which you can show to prospective employers!

Offered by Duke University and the University of California San Diego, this is designed for those who already have programming experience in at least one other language, such as Python, JavaScript, or something similar. Throughout this specialization, you can expect to learn how to design programs that can manage large amounts of data, how to program with graphical user interfaces, and you’ll gain experience with BlueJ and Eclipse, which are two common Java development environments. Additionally, once you complete this course, you’ll be eligible to receive a certificate that can increase your employment perspectives. 

, available via edX, is a Harvard course taught by Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Computer Science David J. Malan and software engineer Jordan Hayashi. The course begins with lectures on basic JavaScript before quickly jumping into advanced JavaScript, React, and finally, React Native. The course also includes guest lectures by two of the co-authors of React Navigation (including a member of the React Native core team) as well as Charlie Cheever, the founder of Expo. There are also lessons on Redux and Async Redux. The course includes a number of hands-on projects, including a final project in which you’ll create an app entirely of your own design. Because the course starts with lessons on JavaScript, it is excellent for beginners with little programming experience, though students should be comfortable with HTML and CSS.

, taught by Jogesh K. Muppala, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, focuses on using React Native and Expo SDK to create cross-platform, native iOS and Android apps. It is one of the most comprehensive and well-designed courses available, designed to give students a functional and working knowledge of React Native UI and its features — such as icons, gestures, animations, and more. You’ll also learn to utilize the Expo toolchain to simplify the development and testing of your React Native apps. This is an intermediate course, designed for students who have a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and are already familiar with Bootstrap 4, React, and Redux. This course is part of a that covers and . Although you can take this React Native course on its own, it is recommended that you take and prior to taking it.

“,” offered by UC Davis via Coursera, is a comprehensive introduction to SQL and database management for beginners. The course is designed for all students. You don’t need any experience in computer science or data science, just a desire to learn about SQL. The course begins covering basic syntax rules and concepts, before diving into building queries and working with strings and numbers. Finally, you’ll learn different methods for analyzing and modifying data using SQL.

This is a that emphasizes a hands-on learning approach. From the very beginning of the course, students work with real datasets, practicing basic SQL code. The course consists of four modules, including a final project in which students are tasked with analyzing data from multiple real datasets for the city of Chicago. You will learn the basic SQL syntax as well as intermediate and advanced concepts like searching data with string patterns and ranges and working with multiple tables using join operations. You will also use Python to connect to databases and analyze data. Offered by IBM via Coursera, this course is part of two Coursera programs — the and the .

takes a modern and forward-thinking approach to data management, focusing on working with massive datasets stored in distributed clusters and cloud storage. To query these kinds of datasets, you need to work with a type of SQL engine called “distributed query engines.” This Specialization focuses on using two of these engines: Hive and Impala. It consists of three courses, beginning with a course on the big-picture data management concepts in which you’ll learn about the structures of different kinds of databases and about the unique demands of big datasets. Moving on, you’ll cover the basics of the SQL syntax in Hive and Impala and any differences with other common database management systems like MySQL and PostgreSQL. Finally, you’ll cover how to manage big datasets. You’ll learn to load them into clusters and cloud storage, organize the data, and run queries using SQL engines.

, designed by Harvard and available on edX, is focused on building a foundational knowledge of programming with R. You’ll learn the R syntax and basic R programming concepts such as data types, vectors, arithmetic, and indexing. You’ll also learn about data wrangling using dplyr, data visualization using ggplot2, and more. Throughout the course, you’ll work with a real-world crime data set, allowing you to put the lessons into practice. The course is the first part of a HarvardX professional certificate in data science that later covers more complicated topics, such as probability, inference, regression, and machine learning.

, designed by Johns Hopkins University and available through Coursera, is designed for people who already have a familiarity with Python and understand the basic concepts of regression analysis. The course teaches R from scratch, beginning with lessons on installing R, the history of the programming language, and its fundamental concepts. By the end, you’ll be using R to simulate data and utilizing the profiler in R to optimize your programs. Though this course is an introduction to R, the assignments may be challenging for students new to programming and is recommended primarily for people with a background in computer science and prior programming experience.

from Johns Hopkins University teaches advanced concepts of R programming, such as functional programming in R, robust error handling, object oriented programming, profiling and benchmarking, debugging, and proper design of functions. The course is challenging, but a worthwhile investment for anybody who has experience with R and would like to go deeper. There are no visual lectures and assignments are difficult, but self-motivated students looking for a challenge will find it worthwhile.

Offered by the University of Chicago, teaches on the basic science of climate change and how humans have impacted the Earth’s climate. Though designed for beginners, this course offers a very thorough, comprehensive coverage of the topic, incorporating insights from a diverse range of related subjects, such as physics, chemistry, biology, earth and atmospheric sciences, mathematics, and even economics.  

Offered by the American Museum of Natural History, offers expertise and insights from climate scientists in various fields of climatology, oceanography, earth science, and anthropology. Before the end of the course, even the very beginners will be able to explain the phenomenon of climate change and especially the often controversial topic of human-induced climate change with vast amounts of sound evidence. 

Offered by the University of Queensland, Australia, helps you understand the basics of climate science to provide proof against those who deny human induced climate change. You will learn how to recognize not only the current impacts of climate change on our society, but also what kinds of social and psychological factors drive climate change denial and how to effectively debunk this misinformation.   

Offered by The University of Newcastle in Australia, teaches how to draw nature. You will not only learn the principles of natural history illustration, such as sketch development and proportion, but will also be guided step-by-step by two instructors teaching at the university. You will learn how to observe both artistically and scientifically and replicate it on paper by hand. 

Taught by Mary Jane Begin, a published and award-winning author and illustrator for children’s books and a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, teaches on how and when to use different types of art supplies. You will get familiar with drawing mediums like watercolor, acrylic, and oil paints, graphite pencils, patels, ink, and more. With much fuller understanding and control over different kinds of art materials, you will be able to bring much diverse range of texture, mood and feel to your artwork.

Taught by a professional painter and illustrator, is made of 3 courses and teaches the very basic skills of drawing for absolute beginners. With this program, you will get into a habit of drawing everything around you. 

“” is an 18-part course taught by Timothy Samara, a professional graphic designer and university lecturer. In this class, Samara will walk you through all of the fundamentals of graphic design, including form and image, color theory, typography, and layout and composition. What makes this class unique is that Samara shows you his professional portfolio and explains the business side of graphic design. This class could be useful for those who wish to make graphic design their profession. 

Offered by the University of Colorado Boulder, this course is the second course included in the . Upon completion, those who take this course will develop the skills to effectively create graphics that could be added to and improve the quality of presentations displayed on PowerPoint and other mediums. 

Offered by the California Institute of the Arts, this is a 5-course path structured to teach you the foundational tools that you will need to grow as a graphic designer. Upon completion, you will understand how to “communicate through image-making and typography,” and you will learn “everything you need to know to work in interface design, motion graphics, and editorial design,” among other things. 

Course 5: “” — A capstone project 

is a foundational course taught by Ben Willmore, a renowned Photoshop expert. While no prior knowledge of Photoshop is needed to take this course, even those with an advanced understanding of the platform will walk away from this course knowing something new. Specifically, those who take this course can expect to learn how to layer masks, blend modes, use filters to fix problems, adjust colors, and much more! 

, taught by Blake Rudis, covers all you need to know to enhance your images using Photoshop. The course starts with rudimentary information, such as how to set up and use the elementary tools on the platform. But in the second half of the course, you’ll have the opportunity to “dig in deep” and learn about layers, selections, filters, masks, and more. 

is perfect for aspiring photographers who want to learn how to edit and enhance their images through Photoshop, hence the name. Instructor Ben Willmore will teach you about optimizing images, sharpening, retouching, black and white conversion, directing the viewer’s eye, and more. 

One of the most popular courses on Creative Live with more than 87,000 students having taken it, will help you lay a strong foundation for your photography practice. Before the end of the course, you will learn not only the technical basics of the camera, such as shutter speed, aperture, and image composition, but also how to plan, develop, and finalize your photography project. 

Offered by the Michigan State University, teaches the most fundamental concepts of photography, such as image composition and control of exposure. Regardless of the type of your camera, whether a smartphone or DSLR, this course will prepare you for both practical and creative works. 

Taught by Annie Leibovitz, the first woman to be named chief photographer at Rolling Stone and the last person to take a portrait of John Lennon, shares the skills and insider tips from the very expert of portrait photography. This program teaches you how to develop creative concepts for shoots, work with subjects, work with natural light, use your environment well, whether studio or field, and bring images to life in post-production. Liebovitz will share her own experiences of photographing famous subjects, such as Whoopi Goldberg and Amy Schumer. 

Taught by an award-winning photographer, Brooke Shaden, is a comprehensive, start-to-finish guide to fine art photography. Following your instructor’s demonstration to creating a photo series from scratch, you will learn how to come up with and develop your ideas, tell a story through a series of photographs, scout for locations, shoot and edit your work, pitch your works to galleries and agents, price your work and, finally, print your works so they look like art.  

Sam Benezra is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in History from the Honors Tutorial College. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Sam enjoys writing on a variety of subjects, including science, music, politics, film. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, playing guitar, and writing songs.



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