Back when I was a student I nursed a burning desire to study at one of the world’s major universities. Oxford or Cambridge, like my cousin before me, or perhaps Cornell, where the girl on whom I had a mild-to-moderate crush in final year headed.
While my personal history has mostly been a case of reaching for the stars and slipping a disc, as it turned out I did actually log some time in an overseas school. It wasn’t quite six years at Harvard culminating in the award of a PhD, but rather six weeks in a lowly college on the fringe of Milwaukee. My brief stint ended with a predictably undergraduate incident in a campus bar involving a state of undress and detention by county police. I earned no degree, but did nearly receive a certificate of deportation.
So as someone whose education ended up more lantana patch than Ivy League, I appreciate Stanford University’s Stanford to Go podcasts. Available through the iTunes store, Stanford to Go offers an array of on-demand podcasts covering a phenomenal spread of academic topics and disciplines — biology, law, history, mathematics — to conversational seminars, such as the engaging “Aurora” series of poli-sci and arts discussions.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
The spectrum of seriousness ranges from the sports slap-and-tickle of “Coach’s Corner” to genuine head-ream territory, like the “Literature of Crisis” philosophy course. You can explore genomic medicine, catch a University Singers performance, or sharpen up your Java skills. Indeed, with Stanford’s reputation for cutting-edge tech education, it’s no surprise the most popular downloads are instructional lectures on app development — the university continuing 120-odd years of commitment to public welfare by arming bedroom programmers with the skills necessary to bring to market the next generation of smart phone fart noise generators.
With everything from one-off seminars through to entire academic programs on offer, STG can help you kill a moment or a month. Download a podcast, don the headphones, close your eyes, and it’s just like being in the hallowed halls, feet up on the desk of the irritated co-ed in the next row, imbibing the knowledge offered by one of the world’s elite schools.
STG is regularly updated, free, and a great way for anyone with a PC and an internet connection to to learn something about almost anything. So whether you’re a motivated self-improver or just someone who’s learnt the hard way that the good old Aussie nudie run breaches section 944.20 of the Wisconsin Criminal Code and now has US visa problems, STG is well worth a listen.
The details: You can browse lectures or subscribe to a series of Stanford to Go podcasts via iTunes.