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Top 10 quirky online courses to take this summer

Need to quench your boredom over the holidays? Check out this selection of our most quirky online courses.

Group of friends take hobby course in kayaking over the summer

By Rhiannon Wardle

Looking to try something a bit different this summer? We might just have the perfect online course for you. While summer is primarily about making the most of the good weather (fingers crossed), being outdoors, and taking some time to relax, it’s also a great opportunity to explore some new avenues. 

For instance, have you ever wished you could travel back in time and experience the past in 3D? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to get into photography? With online education becoming more varied and advanced, almost anything is possible.

What’s more, educational studies show that learning is good for your mental health and can even improve your social life. This makes sense – if you have something new to talk about, you’ll be more able to share ideas and have meaningful discussions with others. So if you’ve been dreading small talk at summer events, an online course might be just the conversation starter you need. 

If you’d like some inspiration, below you can check out our top 10 quirky online courses to take over the summer. Who said that learning can’t be fun?

1. A Beginner’s Guide to Fashion Design by Bloomsbury Academic and Fairchild Books

Always fantasised about designing your fashion collection? This introductory course by Bloomsbury Academic and Fairchild Books might help those dreams become a reality. Over three weeks, you’ll delve into fashion history, gather inspiration for designs and learn the basic principles of fashion design.

Whether you’re interested in drawing, creating textile designs, or learning about sustainable fabrics, this course is a perfect intro to the world of fashion. Even if you don’t intend on switching up your career, this could be the perfect chance to develop your creativity.

2. How to Launch Your Own Food Product by the International Culinary Studio

If you’ve ever whipped something up in the kitchen and thought ‘Wow, have I just invented a new flavour?’, then this course is for you. In five weeks, you’ll discover how to create and launch your very own food product with the International Culinary Studio.

You’ll explore target markets, develop prototypes, and come up with designs for your brand, packaging and labels. If you want to see your own unique food product on the shelves, give this course a go.

3. Seeing: How the Brain Creates the Visual World by National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University

It’s commonly said that the eyes are the window to our soul. However, how exactly do they function as our own personal windows to the world? If you’ve ever wondered how we are able to see, this fascinating course by the National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University will provide the answers.

Over the course of four weeks, you’ll discover how our eyes and brains convert information into feelings. You’ll also find out how your sensory perception impacts your experience of the world – seeing is not always believing!

4. Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City by the University of Reading

Fancy a guided tour of one of the most impressive ancient civilisations to ever have existed? On this five-week course, you’ll discover Ancient Rome using a 3D digital model of the city. Your expert guide on this course, Professor Matthew Nicholls, spoke to us about the power of a virtual tour such as this one. 

He said, “I hope that the detailed digital model at the heart of this course helps people visualise the city as it may have appeared [and] make sense of the ruins that remain today. As well as videos and pictures, we have made interactive digital models which you can explore from different angles, zoom in for a closer look and even ‘walk through’ at ground level. This active exploration helps people grasp the scale and magnificence of these buildings in a more intuitive way.”

If you’re intrigued, join the course today to discover an ancient city with “high rise apartment blocks, fresh running water, fast food restaurants, and traffic regulations”, but “very different attitudes to entertainment, religion, and government”.

5. Protect the Protest: Using Our Rights to Freedom of Assembly and Expression by Amnesty International

Throughout history, protests have had an influential role in defending human rights worldwide. Some of the most important political movements and legislation changes have been the direct result of people uniting together to speak out against injustice.

If you want to learn more about attending and organising protests, this course will offer practical tips and ideas to get started. Individually, we have the power to change our own behaviour, but collectively we can do even more to take on inequality and injustice. Why not learn how to utilise your collective voice today?

6. A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a VR Experience by VR Voom

Virtual Reality is an exciting emerging technology, offering a brand new perspective to those who use it. But how would you like to create your very own VR experience? It might sound unattainable, but this five-week course will teach you to design, program and create a VR experience using only basic coding knowledge.

So if you’re looking for an ambitious project, this course could be the ideal choice. You’ll learn the foundations of HTML and JavaScript, and this will allow you to create simple virtual worlds for the web using the A-Frame web framework. 

Get ready to impress your friends and family with your cutting-edge skills – you might just find yourself getting swept up in the world of VR software development! Oculus, are you hiring?

7. The True Story of Jamaican Jerk: Cooking and Caribbean Culture by the University of the West Indies

Do you love Caribbean food? On this quirky three-week course, you’ll journey to Jamaica to learn about the history of jerk cooking. Discover the evolution of jerk seasoning, why it’s an important part of Caribbean culture, and the impact of concepts like appropriation and sustainability on Jamaican food. 

You won’t just be learning about the history and culture, however. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to create your own jerk seasoning and cook authentic jerk dishes. Be as experimental as you like, and get ready to taste some delicious food.

8. Come Rain or Shine: Understanding the Weather by the University of Reading and the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS)

Ever wondered how the weather actually works? You’re in luck!

Dr Sylvia Knight, Head of Education for the Royal Meteorological Society and educator on this course, spoke to us about why you should give it a try. “It’s too hot, cold, wet or dry – we love to talk, and moan, about the weather, but what affects the weather we experience on a day-to-day basis and how does it impact almost every aspect of how we lead our lives? In ‘Come Rain or Shine’, we look at the physical processes that drive our weather and hope to leave you with a better understanding of the weather forecast.”

Discover all the answers to your weather-related questions in this three-week course created by the University of Reading and the Royal Meteorological Society.

9. Introduction to Photography Basics by the British Academy of Photography

The power of photography is undeniable – it allows us to capture the essence of a moment in time, forever. It’s not surprising, then, that many people have an interest in photography. In our current world, it’s easy to take a fairly high-quality photo on a smartphone, but how can you elevate your photography skills further?

In this beginner’s course by the British Academy of Photography, you’ll learn all the essential skills needed to start taking good photos. You’ll explore the rules of composition in photography, plan your own project, and then start to build a diverse photography portfolio. Cameras at the ready!

10. Biodiversity, Guardianship, and the Natural History of New Zealand: A Museum Perspective by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Aotearoa New Zealand is a land of fascinating natural wonders, founded on a geological and environmental history spanning 85 million years. For many people, the country is too far away to visit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about its history, wildlife, and culture.

Through investigating artefacts and exhibitions, you’ll learn about the land of Aotearoa New Zealand, and gain an understanding of Māori knowledge and mythology. You’ll learn about conservation projects and other actions that will help to protect the island’s biodiversity over the coming years.

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