Online Classes That Will Keep You Busy and Inspired During Isolation

Technology + Gear Culture Art + Architecture
by Morgane Croissant Mar 26, 2020

If you’ve already made three batches of homemade pasta with Nona Nerina, cleaned your house from floor to ceiling, rewatched the 10 seasons of Friends, and gone through a couple of good books, it might be time to switch gears if you want to stay sane and entertained during this time of self-isolation. To keep the boredom at bay for the next few weeks, sink your teeth into a long-term project that will keep you busy, and start with online classes. Whether it is sewing, drawing, dancing, or even writing, there’s plenty you can do right now to gain new skills, remain engaged, and reach a sense of accomplishment while staying safe at home.

Learn from the best with MasterClass.

MasterClass Neil Gaiman

Photo: MasterClass/Facebook

The crème de la crème of online classes, MasterClass is not cheap but it delivers. The teachers are the best in the world in their discipline, so you’re sure to gain precious insight in whatever topic tickles your fancy. With more than 80 classes comprising about 20 lessons each, MasterClass will keep you learning for a little while, especially if you schedule a homework routine for yourself between each lesson. If you have a stash of spirits at home and well-stocked pantry, you can learn mixology from experts Lynnette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana; if you’d rather hone your writing skills, David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, and Neil Gaiman (among many others) can help you write the next Pulitzer Prize for fiction; and if it’s tips about improving your photography skills that you’re looking for, Annie Leibovitz will set you right. Browse the list of classes to find what interests you the most, and if you’re unsure that MasterClass is the platform for you, you can obtain a few free sample classes by signing up on its website.

Dance the quarantine away with free professional ballet lessons from Tiler Peck.

Dance with Tyler Peck

Photo: tilerpeck/Instagram

Slip on your tutu and your leotard (or more likely, your leggings) and tune in with Tiler Peck, principal dancer at the New York City Ballet. The dancer generously gives free lessons, Monday to Friday, to whoever wants to stretch and learn a few of the tricks of the trade. Since she’s stuck at home, like the rest of us, and needs to train, she decided to share her practice with her followers who are willing to develop their pointes or improve their fifth position while holding on the kitchen counter. So, move the furniture to make some space and prepare to exercise muscles you didn’t even know existed.

Get your arts and crafts on with Creativebug.

Mastering a craft requires time to learn and practice, and right now we have boatloads of the stuff, so it’s your chance to get started. Creativebug caters to everyone with an interest in creating beautiful things, from super beginners who want to know how to mend clothing properly, to more advanced crafters who wish to make a modern quilt or get to grips with embroidery techniques. And there’s more than textile art on offer: lessons on jewelry making, decoration, ceramics, printmaking, and the like are all available on the platform at the click of a button. Most shops are closed at the moment, so getting material may be an issue, but each class offered has a list of materials on display so you can make sure you have everything you need before you sign up. There’s a no-commitment free trial option for those who want to give it a shot without getting too invested.

Turn your brain into an encyclopedia with The Great Courses.

The Great Courses

Photo: The Great Courses/Facebook

For most of us, once we’re done with college and we start working, we give up the learning of traditional subjects like history, science, literature, etc. Although for some it’s a blessing not to have to think about math or medieval Europe ever again, for others, it’s a bit of a downer not to have time to expand our knowledge of the world we live in. But, the exceptional situation we currently find ourselves in opens up a wide range of learning opportunities that can easily be filled with the many fascinating classes to be found on The Great Courses. With courses on classical mythology, German, the art of the ancient world, decoding the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphics, botany, calculus, biochemistry, and many more, this platform is a great way to learn away from school — and maybe even train for that Jeopardy application you’ve always thought about.

Doodle and draw daily with renowned illustrators.

Both Mo Willens and Jarrett J. Krosoczka are New York Times best-selling authors and illustrators, and they both offer online drawing classes during the coronavirus health crisis that keeps them and us at home. Willens invites you into his studio via YouTube every weekday at 1:00 PM ET for “Lunch Doodles,” while Krosoczka welcomes you into his space, also via YouTube, every weekday at 2:00 PM ET for more intricate drawing lessons. Both are children’s book authors so the lessons are appropriate for adults and kids alike.

Learn about happiness for free from Yale.

Yale course

Photo: Coursera

One of Yale University’s most popular courses, “The Science of Well-Being,” is now available for free on Coursera. The course, taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos, digs into the neuroscience behind the feeling of well-being, our misconception about happiness, and the habits that we can all create to achieve a state of happiness. Over 1.1 million people have signed up for the course that takes about 20 hours of classes. Although auditing the course is free, if you want to complete assignments, have them graded, and obtain a certificate at the end, it will cost you $49.

Go birding from the comfort of your own home with the Cornell Lab.

It’s not because you’re to remain at home that you should forget about the natural world outside your window. To help you remain connected with the beautiful wildlife that populates our skies, take a course with the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy. Beginner classes, starting at $29.99, will help you become a better birder by teaching how to identify bird songs and recognize birds by size, colors, and patterns. More advanced courses include bird biology and observation and drawing skills. And remember, you can still open your window and make use of your binoculars to put your knowledge to the test. You can even take a walk in nature as long as you respect the rules of social distancing.

Color yourself busy thanks to contemporary artists, libraries, and museums.

If you’d rather focus your artistic endeavour on something a little easier than learning to paint or draw, get your crayons out and get coloring instead. An activity that has gained popularity with adults in the past few years, coloring is a great way to be in the moment, be creative, and relax. During this difficult time, artists from around the world have made some of their designs accessible online for free so you can print them out and color away. Catherine Willett is offering a download of her Women’s History Month coloring book so you can bring to life black-and-white drawings of Dolly Parton, Toni Morrison, and more. Designer and illustrator Oana Befort has also created some beautiful coloring pages with her unique whimsical and floral designs. To combine art and culture, check out Inuit artist Sarah Ayaqi Whalen’s coloring pages that represent scenes of Inuit legends, Arctic animals, and other traditional Unuit designs. Many libraries and museums have also released coloring books featuring works from their collections; from floral designs from the New York Botanical Garden to the strange creatures of the Wangensteen Historical Library, there’s something to color for every bored person out there.

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