Augmented Reality:Boost your grades this semester without spending a dime!

Dollars and Sense with Mitch


IMAGE 1. The lectures range from Intro to Game Theory to upper level Cooking with Physics which teaches you the science behind liquid nitrogen and its use in many popular modern dishes. One of the best parts of iTunes U, besides it being free, is that many lectures are recorded at schools such as Harvard, UCLA and Cal Tech. Some of the best, brightest and most innovative minds are sharing more information than you can imagine — and you’re missing out!



2.Next up is Michigan Institute of Technology and their awesome OpenCourseWare program they started a few years ago. Their idea was that public education should be free to anyone wanting a more advanced understanding of many fields of study. You can find over three thousand videos on their YouTube channel with full lectures from some of the brightest professors in the nation.

One of the things I have found most effective in watching an intro-level class or ‘principles’ class through MIT is: It’s a lifesaver in those classes where I took the intro class so long ago that I forgot the basics! The best part is you can do it when you want and where you want so it’s convenient — unlike many tutoring options.

3.Similar to MIT’s program, the nonprofit organization Khan Academy, started in 2006 by Salman Khan, has set out to “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” according to their company mission statement.
Khan academy covers such a broad range of subjects and for this reason you’ll find many lectures that are not as in-depth or lengthy as MIT and iTunes U’s material. This can be useful, however, if you just need a quick reminder on a specific topic. I use it to brush up on very specific topics before attending lecture here on campus. Khan Academy also offers practice questions and answers to help further your understanding of material you might be struggling with in your classes.

4.Lastly, I’d like to talk about the peculiar concept of TED talks rather than completely recommend them. TED talks have become increasingly popular in academia in recent years because of the way the speakers present innovative new ways of thinking about issues in society.

I’d love to say that TED talks are a good way of augmenting one’s education, but I have to approach this method of “learning” with a few conditions. First, I feel that if you get caught up in TED talks, you might fall into the category of people who watch a talk, take everything it presents at face value and hold an opinion on the topic strictly from what you took away from that one talk. This can lead to a very one-sided opinion and a lack of depth of knowledge on a subject. For me, I take TED talks with a grain of salt.

At face value, they are simply entertaining speeches where an argument is being made. They work and I love them when they inspire you to learn more about something or bring up a problem that you hadn’t thought of before. They don’t work, however, when they become the entirety of your knowledge on a topic or the first and last stop on your understanding of an issue.

Further, they offer an ‘easy way out’ of thinking since they do most of that for you too. If you are unable to form your own opinion about a subject because the TED talk you’ve watched already did that for you, that starts to become an issue. So if TED talks were a food group, I would put them with the fats, oils and sugars- watch sparingly, they might fill you up with empty calories!

So there you have it. While many out there are shooting for A’s this semester, using some or all of these resources will be sure to help you get closer to that goal. Paying for a tutor or attending study sessions on campus are not viable options for many of us, but there are alternatives out there. So make the most of your time and try what I like to call ‘mindful entertainment’ with a class at MIT, iTunes U or Khan Academy — instead of mindlessly marathoning Friends on Netflix.