The Great Courses.com

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Barefootgirl
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The Great Courses.com

Post by Barefootgirl » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:36 pm

Have any of you purchased any of the course material from this company? If so, looking for comments on quality of the information/instruction.

Do they have competition?

Thank you, BFG
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wdr1
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by wdr1 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:51 pm

I haven't, but there's a fait bit of free, high quality content out there these days on iTunes U, Coursera, edX and the like.

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wageoghe
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by wageoghe » Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:57 pm

Notes:
I download the audio versions.
I typically listen while driving or walking.
I listen at 1.25x speed (still easy enough to understand and, at this speed I can fit one whole lecture into my commute).

I think the quality is excellent. There is a great variety of courses. The courses are recorded in a studio. They are not recorded in a classroom or lecture hall environment. Typically only the professor/instructor is present. You are not "signing up" for a course. There are no assignments. There is no possibility of getting a degree or a certificate. The courses are essentially audio books (although there are a lot of video courses as well). That is all fine with me. I am happy with the quality of information presented, production quality, and, generally, the quality and enthusiasm of the professors/instructors.

On TGC.com each course is tagged as being appropriate, or not, for audio. So far, I don't think I've missed much listening to audio versions, even though many courses I've purchased are available as video.

You can get them (the audio version) dirt cheap on audible.com, vs the TGC.com prices. All courses are a available for one credit. So, depending on the subscription plan, you can get the courses as low as $9.50 or so or as high as $14.50 or so. I don't remember what my subscription level is called, but I get 24 credits per year, all available upfront. That puts my cost per credit around $9.50.

Supposedly each course is put on sale once a year on TGC.com. Never pay full TGC.com price. Even the TGC.com sale price is more than how much Audible.com subscribers have to pay if they pay cash.

I have posted at least once here on Bogleheads some sample prices: TGC.com list price, TGC.com sale price, Audible.com cash price, Audible.com member cash price, Audible.com credit price.

I found it:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=122223#p1790405

I can recommend TGC courses (via Audible.com) without reservation.

I should note that your local library might have a lot of TGC courses. The problem there will be that they will probably only be available on CD or DVD, so you would have to put in some work if you want to listen to them on a phone or tablet.

You'll probably get some comments here about taking free MOOCs or other free options. I haven't taken any of those courses so I can't comment, but I think they cater to different audiences.

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VictoriaF
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:24 pm

The main competition for The Great Courses (The Teaching Company) is free MOOCs such as Coursera, edX, and several others. Some professors teach in both, for example, Scott Page, the professor in my Model Thinking course. MOOCs are both free and have a much larger course selection. You can start a MOOC course and drop it, or you can start it with an eye for a certificate and then downgrade your plan to only watching the videos. Or you could start a course out of curiosity and then like it so much that you would put much more effort into it than you have initially planned. Some online courses have additional free materials such as links to free books and free software.

The Great Courses' remaining advantage is that they package their courses for easier consumption. For example, you can get course DVDs and transcript books rather than Coursera's online access and video files you choose to download.

If you are interested in a subject, I recommend starting out by checking this subject in Coursera.

Victoria
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dognose
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by dognose » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

My wife and I have purchased about a dozen DVDs in the Great Courses series, mainly in U.S. history for me and science/math for my wife. We have been very impressed with the Great Courses -- they are serious, highly informative lectures featuring leading professors on each subject. My wife and I have frequently remarked on the high quality of the lectures/lecturers. Truly world-class stuff. I don't know if they have any competition. I suggest trying one lecture series on a subject you really care about.

jlawrence01
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by jlawrence01 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:35 pm

I agree. The content is excellent and the classes are well prepared.

Herekittykitty
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Herekittykitty » Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:38 pm

I love them.

I've gotten lots of them on DVD over the years on a wide variety of subjects and I never ceased to be amazed at the high quality of the lectures.

They have frequent sales - so only buy on sale.

Sometimes they email notification of free content accessible online.

Did I mention - I love them.
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Kidneydoc
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Kidneydoc » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:31 pm

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, uses Great Courses:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/magaz ... f=magazine

I have severe courses. Not bad. But too busy with work (I'm a physician) to complete them so far.

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DonCamillo
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by DonCamillo » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:35 pm

I have bought quite a few of them in audio CD format. I used to listen to them when I was commuting to work, and feel that I have had great value from them.

I have pretty much stopped buying them however. I already have most of the courses that would interest me which are available in CD only format. I do not buy the DVD courses because I prefer Massively Open Online Courses instead when I am at home. I use MOOC in different ways. Some of them I complete and get the (free) certificate. My department recognizes these as continuing education. Some of them I just audit, but do not do the assignments. Some of them I sign up for, listen to lectures that interest me, and then drop the course. Since they are all free, you can use them as you wish without consequences.

I will say that almost all of The Great Courses I have purchased were of superior quality. If you are not satisfied, they will refund your money or let you switch them for another course.
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gwrvmd
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by gwrvmd » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:39 pm

I agree with the above posters,...they are excellent and well presented
We have bought and watched about 10. Sort of like books.....a little addictive.......Gordon
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Rob5TCP
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Rob5TCP » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:48 pm

I have downloaded several of their video courses. Since I am mostly interested in physics and other sciences, I need the video.

My favorite have been by Dr. Neil DeGasse Tyson on black holes and other cosmological phenomena. I have found other sources, but I still consider this an excellent resource.

BTW It's a bit less if you download instead of having the DVD's shipped; plus you save on shipping costs. As mentioned earlier, ONLY order on sale courses.
Last edited by Rob5TCP on Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

WhyNotUs
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:54 pm

I used a couple for refreshers on stats and probability when I realized I needed it.

I was able to navigate to the information that I needed pretty easily and having the video was very useful.

As someone else noted, these are professionally produced so sound and visuals are clear, not always the case with the free courses that I have tried to use online. Having said that, I have not actually used an entire course, just went after specific info.
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bertie wooster
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by bertie wooster » Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:03 am

Years ago i listened to their course, "How to listen to and understand great music." The lecturer was Robert Greenberg and those lectures were some of the best I've ever listened to. He is a incredibly engaging, funny, and knowledgeable teacher. I've listened to just about all of his courses (years ago, he may have more now).

I also have a bunch of history lectures on various topics. I don't listen to the lectures very often now and I mostly listen to podcasts when I go to work or workout.

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JMacDonald
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by JMacDonald » Mon Sep 08, 2014 12:19 am

I have purchased many of the courses. I have enjoyed all of them. As mentioned above, buy on sale. Do not pay full price.
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Tucumcari
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Tucumcari » Mon Sep 08, 2014 1:10 am

bertie wooster wrote:Years ago i listened to their course, "How to listen to and understand great music." The lecturer was Robert Greenberg and those lectures were some of the best I've ever listened to. He is a incredibly engaging, funny, and knowledgeable teacher. I've listened to just about all of his courses (years ago, he may have more now).

I also have a bunch of history lectures on various topics. I don't listen to the lectures very often now and I mostly listen to podcasts when I go to work or workout.


Ditto for me on Greenberg -- I have several of his courses. They allow me to tolerate air travel.

Michread
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Michread » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:23 pm

I own several Great Courses and others I've borrowed from the library. My favorite is Foundations of Western Civ. 2, Bucholz; I've watched it TWICE over the years.

Yale Open Courses are excellent and FREE! I've enjoyed the Old Testament and New Testament lecture series.

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JupiterJones
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:29 pm

A third vote for Dr. Greenberg.

Our standard pre-road-trip ritual is a visit to the library to pick up one of his Great Courses. They never disappoint. I think the last one we listened to was his Tchaikovsky course.

I'm a big fan of MOOCs and have taken them from Coursera, EdX, Udacity, etc. I think of the Great Courses as being a different thing. They're more like really, really good educational documentaries. They're not "courses" in the sense that most MOOCs are (no quizzes, assignments, etc.) And MOOCs are not made for road trips!

If you're looking for something more like the Great Courses, but perhaps a bit more "hip", I highly recommend the Crash Course World History videos by John Green (yes, the "The Fault in Our Stars" author). It is fantastic.
Stay on target...

Barefootgirl
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:11 am

Thank you all for the feedback...with many of the courses, I'd prefer to "rent" if possible, so I am looking at streaming options....would be great to view and listen to some of these courses on public transportation.

At this point in my life, Great Courses looks like the best option, since I don't have additional time now for homework, studying, tests, etc.

I was surprised to learn that The Teaching Company headquarters is only a few miles from my home...

BFG
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Lynette
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Lynette » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:51 am

Hi,

I got a few of these course on Amazon at a really good price. I got an excellent one on photography as well as history of places I was planning to visit - Peru, Pompeii etc.

Lynette

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dodecahedron
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by dodecahedron » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:01 am

Another vote for Dr. Greenberg here too! My daughters and I loved listening to this series when we were driving around in the car together when they were young teen and preteen. That was well over a decade ago, but we still have very fond memories--and it has greatly enhanced our enjoyment of classical music ever since.

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wageoghe
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by wageoghe » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:55 am

As far as "renting", I think the best you'll do is checking courses out at the library. AFAIK neither TGC nor Audible offers "streaming" in the sense of Netflix stream. That is, neither offers unlimited access for a fixed price per month. If you wish to acquire courses from either TGC or Audible, you are limited to purchasing them.

If you are not a member of Audible.com, I would encourage you to join. You can get a free trial membership with one free book (which includes audio versions of TGC courses). You are under no obligation to buy any more audio books (although you probably have to explicitly opt out of continuing your subscription).

Note that it is possible to rip the courses from CD and then listen to those audio files on your phone. So, if you are able to check some courses out at the library you can still use them.

TGC has a monthly podcast, The Torch. The podcast typically features interviews with the professors of two or three courses. Sometimes the courses are recently released, sometimes they have been around for a while. Sometimes the host interviews one of their professors on current events. The podcast gives a decent insight into the courses and professors.

Good luck!

lightheir
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by lightheir » Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:58 am

Local library will often have many of these to borrow.

Barefootgirl
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by Barefootgirl » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:39 pm

I see that there is app on certain devices to stream these classes - don't have all the details yet.

BFG
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

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pjstack
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Re: The Great Courses.com

Post by pjstack » Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:22 pm

I have purchased quite a few courses (DVD's). I have enjoyed them all.
pjstack

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