10 Amazing Online Courses You Can Sign Up For in May 2019

iStock.com/Deagreez
iStock.com/Deagreez

The internet is a near-limitless resource of information and knowledge, but it’s not always easy to consolidate all of that into a structured educational experience. That’s why online courses can be a huge benefit. They offer the convenience of learning in your pajamas with the guidance of the kind of formal curriculum you'd find in a college class.

If you want to acquire a new skillset or become more proficient in a topic this May, there is no shortage of options, with sites like Udemy, Coursera, and edX offering a wide array of subjects. Best of all, most are free, with a fee charged only if you request proof of completion. We’ve narrowed down 10 of the best, including courses on cats, medieval magic, creativity, and more.

1. How to Argue Like a Pro

When you find yourself contesting another person’s reasoning—or someone is contesting your own—it helps to understand how to navigate contentious dialogue. This Duke University course led by philosophy professors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Ram Neta will teach you how to deconstruct an argument and identify key phrases when challenging someone’s opinion. You’ll also learn how to mount effective reasoning of your own.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $30.

2. Learn to Wield Medieval Magic

Revise your stereotypes of magic in the Middle Ages with this course from the Universitat de Barcelona that dives into spells, geomancy, and astrology in medieval Europe, exploring how society alternately revered and persecuted alleged spell-casters. Disclaimer: There’s no extra credit for turning your significant other into a toad.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

3. Communicate With Your Cat (and Craft Homemade Toys)

Cats are inscrutable creatures, prone to fits of adoration and violence in equal measure. Now you can learn to better relate to their moods and desire for play with this course that advises on good human-to-feline interactions and offers recommendations for cat toys you can craft yourself.

Sign up on Udemy for $11. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

4. Unlock Your Creativity

Hungry to express yourself but not sure how to begin? This course from bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) outlines a path to take your creative spark and organize it into a fulfilling and successful reality. Even if you’re not an artist or writer, Gilbert still has lessons for anyone looking to pursue their curiosity and see their ambition through.

Sign up on Udemy for $45. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

5. Boost Your Brain Power

If your knowledge of increased cognitive performance extends to a double espresso shot, you’ll likely benefit from this course by Karima Benameur, an assistant professor at the Department of Neurology at Emory University. You’ll learn the best diet for brain health, how exercise helps mental performance, and how meditation and sleep can improve your focus.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

6. Sharpen Your Math Skills for Knitting

To go from knitting novice to knitting ninja requires a basic understanding of math. Measuring yarn and figuring out patterns is the foundation for knitting success, and instructor Kate Atherley will provide the tools you’ll need to make numbers a part of your skill set.

Sign up on Bluprint. The individual course is $40, or you can get access to this many other courses with a subscription for $8 a month.

7. Become a Speed-Reading Machine

Ever wonder how some people can flip through hundreds of pages and still wind up with a working understanding of the text? Now you, too, can unlock the power of speed reading by learning how to read up to three times faster than your average, turtle-like college graduate. In addition to plowing through books, you’ll also learn how to retain your newfound knowledge and develop the ability to grasp new concepts like languages with (relative) ease.

Sign up on Udemy for $11. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

8. See America Through Foreign Eyes

The culture, history, and policies of the United States get a new lens in this course, which examines how foreign countries perceive America. Learn how citizens China, France, Mexico, and parts of Africa regard the U.S. as a result of trade, intervention, and education.

Sign up on Coursera for free. A certificate of completion is included.

9. Discover the Physiology of Fitness

Everyone knows that they should exercise, but few of us know exactly what exercising does to the body. The Science of Exercise, a course from the University of Colorado Boulder, will help you go beyond popular ideas like "run more, weigh less" or "eat protein, build muscle." If you’re interested in understanding why our body reacts the way it does to exertion and nutrition, check out this tutorial on what kind of fuel our body uses to function, the role of the respiratory system, and how to prioritize certain tasks depending on your goals.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

10. Create an iOS App

Think you have the next big app idea but too intimidated by the programming it would require? This tutorial will walk you step-by-step through the Swift programming language and Apple developer tools so you can make the jump from concept to downloadable product. No previous coding experience is required.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $99.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

This Vincent Van Gogh Action Figure Comes Complete with Removable Ears

Today Is Art Day, Amazon
Today Is Art Day, Amazon

Historians still don’t know how Vincent van Gogh lost his left ear, or for that matter, how much of it was actually lopped off. However, as Bored Panda reports, Today Is Art Day decided to take historic liberties in the name of nerdy fun and created a mini van Gogh action figure, complete with two completely detachable ears.

Today Is Art Day developed a prototype of the 5-inch PVC figurine back in 2017, and to bring it to the art-loving masses, they launched a Kickstarter campaign. Backers who contributed $28 Canadian dollars (around $21 USD) scored their own van Gogh action figure.

A van Gogh action figure next to a miniature 'Starry Night' painting
Today Is Art Day, Amazon

A boxed Vincent van Gogh action figure
Today Is Art Day, Amazon

Fans who missed out on the Kickstarter the first time around can buy one on Amazon now for $24. He even comes in a box decorated with miniature, cut-out replicas of his Sunflowers (1888) and The Starry Night (1889).

Today Is Art Day has since branched out to produce a whole host of other figurines based on famous icons, from other artists like Frida Kahlo and Gustav Klimt to scientific luminaries like Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein.

[h/t Bored Panda]

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current availability.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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