The 10 Coolest Online Courses You Can Sign Up For in April 2019

iStock.com/imaginima
iStock.com/imaginima

If you consider yourself a lifelong learner, online courses are an easy and affordable way to hone your skills, challenge your brain, and maybe even discover a new interest or hobby. You can find e-courses on everything from interior design to graphic design, and many of these classes are free on websites like Udemy, Coursera, and edX. (But if you want a certificate to prove you completed the program, there is typically a fee attached.)

Ready to dive into some lesson plans? We’ve selected 10 of the coolest classes you can take right now from the comfort of your own home.

1. Dog CPR and First Aid

Many non-medical professionals are now CPR-certified, but did you know that similar first aid techniques can be used on dogs in emergency scenarios? This course covers CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for canines, as well as explaining how to read a dog’s vital signs. One of the lessons also addresses emergency prevention, including topics such as car safety, toxic foods and plants, and disaster preparedness. Whether you have a fur baby of your own or just want to be ready to rescue an animal in need, this is the course for you.

Sign up on Udemy for $14. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

2. Neuroplasticity: How To Rewire Your Brain

Old habits die hard, but it’s still possible to make meaningful, lasting change in your life. Taught by psychologist and Brain Academy founder Gregory Caremans, the course is ideal for anyone who wants to form healthier habits, minimize painful memories, or stop procrastinating (indeed, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to this last topic). No prior knowledge is necessary, but be prepared to give your brain a full workout. The class includes lots of exercises that will help you reshape your brain in the most literal sense.

Sign up on Udemy for $14. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

3. The Science of Well-Being

After you’re done rewiring your brain, you can teach it how to be happier with this class from Yale University. Psychology professor Laurie Santos starts off by refuting common misconceptions about the things we think will make us happy, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Fortunately, these biases of the brain can be overcome, and a large chunk of the class is dedicated to strategies that can be used to achieve a greater sense of well-being.

If Santos's class leaves you wanting more, you can also sign up for The Science of Happiness, a free class from the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. It's available on edX for free (with an option of buying a $49 certificate upon completion).

Sign up for Santos's course on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

4. The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture

If you’re still mourning the loss of legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, you may enjoy this course from SmithsonianX, which features some of the superhero-themed knowledge that Lee imparted during his time on this Earth. You’ll also hear from another comic book maven, Michael Uslan, who served as executive producer of The Dark Knight series and The Lego Movie. After six weeks, you’ll be able to explain how the birth of the first-ever superhero in 1938 launched a global phenomenon that continues to inform art, pop culture, and even ethics.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $50.

5. Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe

What caused the Big Bang? What is our universe made of? Is there life in outer space? Two astronomers from the Australian National University set out to address some of the lingering questions in modern astrophysics. You may walk away from this course with more questions than answers, but you’ll have a more informed take on life’s greatest mysteries, as well as a better understanding of why exactly they’re so tough to crack.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $50.

6. The Kennedy Half Century

Calling all history and presidential trivia buffs: This course from the University of Virginia provides a comprehensive understanding of the legacy that John F. Kennedy left behind. It covers J.F.K.’s rise to power, presidency, and assassination, and explains how these momentous events have had a long-lasting impact on the public, media, and presidents who came after him.

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

7. The Science of Beer

If Alton Brown was to teach a class on beer, it would probably look similar to this offering from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. You’ll learn how your beloved brew of choice is made and what exactly makes it taste so delicious. Fair warning, though: You’ll also learn about some of the unsavory health effects of imbibing too much beer. There’s a business angle, too—instructors provide an overview of how beer ends up in the supply chain and how marketers try to influence consumer behavior.

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

8. The Music of the Beatles

With 13 studio albums to their name, The Beatles released enough material to dissect, analyze, and enjoy for decades to come. This class from the University of Rochester charts the band’s evolution as musicians, from their early experiences in Liverpool and Hamburg to their psychedelic phase to the release of Abbey Road, the last album they recorded. (Although, as you’ll likely learn in this course, Let It Be was the last album they actually released).

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

9. Aquaponic Gardening: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together

Healthy, sustainable food doesn’t always come cheap, so why not raise your dinner in your own backyard? Author and aquaponic gardening expert Sylvia Bernstein will guide you through the basics of raising fish like tilapia, bluegill, and catfish in captivity. In turn, the waste from those fish can be used to nurture an entire fruit or vegetable garden. Sylvia and her husband, Alan, will demonstrate the eco-friendly techniques you’ll need to know to yield a bountiful feast.

Sign up on Udemy for $25. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

10. Passive Income: Top 10 Legit Ways to Make Money Online

Everyone wants to know how to make more money with less effort. Entrepreneur and IT professional Victor Gorinov's Udemy class is designed to help you figure out how to do that. He’ll introduce you to the basic concepts involved in earning passive income, tackling options like affiliate marketing, domain trading, investing in stocks and real estate, monetizing your YouTube account, and selling your photos and videos to stock image websites.

Sign up on Udemy for $12. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

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The Hallmark Channel’s First-Ever ‘Christmas Con’ Is Comin’ to Town

macniak/iStock via Getty Images
macniak/iStock via Getty Images

Bookworms have Book Con, comic lovers have Comic Con, and now, courtesy of the Hallmark Channel, Christmas fanatics will finally get the gift they’ve surely written to Santa about more than a few times: Christmas Con.

News 12 New Jersey reports that the festive convention will take place at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison from November 8 through November 10.

If you binge-watch Hallmark Channel’s schmaltzy feel-good flicks faster than St. Nick scarfs down a giant gingerbread cookie, this is your chance to catch its biggest stars in one decked-out hall. Mean Girls (2004) alum Jonathan Bennett will emcee the convention, The Walking Dead’s Alicia Witt will perform a concert, and panels will include guests like Chad Michael Murray, Melissa Joan Hart, and Bennett’s former Mean Girls co-star Lacey Chabert (who will hopefully be showered with enough candy canes to make up for the time that her character, Gretchen Weiners, got none).

In addition to its celebrity events, Christmas Con will also include a Christmas market with gifts, handmade decorations, and holiday treats. You can also don your most lurid holiday sweater for a chance to win a $500 grand prize in the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, or bake a gingerbread house fit for a prince in the Gingerbread Wars, which could win you $1000.

If you're hoping to attend, you might have to hunt for resale tickets on social media or third-party sites—the passes are already almost sold out on the official website. If you’re willing to shell out a little extra for a snapshot with romance royalty, most of the stars are offering photo opportunities for around $50.

Looking for a less intense way to welcome the holly, jolly holiday season? Watch the 20 best Christmas movies, Die Hard (1988) and all.

[h/t News 12 New Jersey]

Meet Holly: The Winner of Alaska's ‘Fat Bear Week’ Competition at Katmai National Park

Katmai National Park and Preserve via Flickr, Public Domain
Katmai National Park and Preserve via Flickr, Public Domain

It's that time of year when the air gets a little colder, the days get a little shorter, and the bears get much, much fatter. Every year, in celebration of the impressive, pre-hibernation transformations of its brown bears, Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve hosts a competition to determine which fat bear reigns supreme. As NPR reports, Holly (a.k.a. Bear 435) is the official winner of 2019's Fat Bear Week.

In order to build enough bulk to survive the winter, brown bears must eat a year's worth of food in six months. After gobbling as much salmon as they can find, their mass typically peaks in October, which is also when Katmai holds its annual competition.

This year, the park pitted 12 coastal brown bears against each other in a March Madness-style bracket. Images of the chunky contestants were shared on Facebook, and followers cast votes for their favorite fat bears by "liking" them.

A before and after shot of Holly, winner of Katmai National Park and Preserve's Fat Bear Week competition
Katmai National Park and Preserve via Flickr, Public Domain

Holly beat runner-up Lefty by nearly 14,000 votes. The before-and-after shot above makes it easy to see why: Between July 12 and September 22, 2019, she grew from a scrawny bear into a hulking beast. The preserve announced her win on Facebook, writing: "She is fat. She is fabulous. She is 435 Holly. And you voted her the 2019 Fat Bear Week Champion. All hail Holly whose healthy heft will help her hibernate until the spring. Long live the Queen of Corpulence!"

Holly's new body is good for more than making her an internet sensation. The fatter a bear is, the more likely it is to survive the winter. But other factors, like climate change waking hibernating bears earlier than usual, still pose a threat.

[h/t NPR]

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