Get a College Education on YouTube

Posted on November 8, 2021

There is a lot to despise about how much time we spend looking at screens. And if it were all bad it would be easy for us to know what to do. Stop using it! However, it isn’t all bad – there is some good that comes from our devices, social media, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we can learn from YouTube. Like most people, I YouTube things like ‘how to replace an outlet’ and ‘how can I get rid of algae in my aquarium’ and get pretty good answers, for the most part. Also, since I’m a fan of Jordan Peterson, I have come across some of his lectures – mostly his Biblical series – which I’ve even watched portions of some of the videos. But he also has a few playlists of his Maps of Meaning courses from various years at the University of Toronto.

More recently I came across Manolis Kellis YouTube channel which offers entire semesters worth of some interesting courses – most of which are probably over my head – that he teaches at MIT. Courses like Deep learning in Life Sciences and Machine Learning in Genomics.

It turns out there is a bunch of college courses online from renowned universities. Yale offers a variety of courses. Stanford has courses like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. You can learn Philosophy from Oxford University.

This got me thinking, what if I actually sat down and “took” one of these courses on YouTube? What if I took it seriously – I paid attention and took notes? What if I scheduled it on my calendar for every Tuesday night at 5:00pm, for example?

Steve Jobs’ famously said in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech,

“the minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me and begin dropping in the ones that looked far more interesting… And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.”

It’s so much easier to follow Jobs’ example today where so many courses on a variety of topics are literally at our fingertips, if we’re willing to invest the time and take it seriously. Of course, I haven’t yet… but it’s something I’ve been thinking about.