For those of you who are among the uninitiated, let me explain what this is. The goal of The Great Courses, as stated from their web site is to ind the top 1% of college professors in the world, selected entirely for their ability to teach then use feedback from customers to help craft courses into formats uniquely designed for the lifelong learner. And let me tell you, that is exactly what they do! How do you keep a room full of 5 teens engaged in topics like art history, marketing, and more? You place them in front of the TV and have them watch the top professors in the US explain new concepts. These are not just "top notch" professors, they are literally the very best in their fields, not because of their knowledge or ability to publish scholarly works. These professors are selected because they are voted on by their students as being the very best, most interesting in the country! In fact, of the more than 500,000 college professors in the world, only the top 1% are selected to teach one of The Great Courses.
Yes, they are that good.
Courses are available in a variety of formats: DVD, streaming, audio, and limited podcast. Each course has anywhere from about 12 lectures of 30 minutes in length, to as many as 48! The majority of standard courses tend to run about 24 lectures. There are course notes available, often with 2-3 thought provoking questions that can be used following each lecture for response from your learner.
Now, don't get me wrong, these are not flashy documentary style presentations. They are lectures, and are presented as such, often with great visuals to explain topics being studied. But wow, are these lectures interesting! They are well crafted, and even my learning disabled kids thoroughly enjoy them. For those who may think that "fancy pants college lectures" are not suitable for your student, because you don't picture them attending college or because they have learning challenges, think again about using these. The professors tend to explain each new term used very well, this is not at all like the popular YouTube "Crash Courses" that present material at a frenetic pace, but instead the material is presented by Professors who speak at a very reasonable pace so nothing is missed, often with graphic support (You HAVE to check out the series, "How to Look at and Understand Great Art), and subject matter is broken down into manageable chunks, making it far more accessible than some tools for higher functioning learning disabled students.
What is exciting is the company's shift to including far more than just traditional academic courses in their offerings! Recently they have added content designed with Craftsy, National Geographic, and more which are specific to their company, opening up an entirely new arena to offer solid courses in! Everything from "Sewing 101" to Tai Chi to Learning to Play Guitar and much, much more! But where they shine is in academic courses in history, science and culture that are far and away better than you will get anywhere else. Short of paying $1500 a credit, you simply won't get better teaching. Their history courses alone could more than fill your high school years.
They are also pricey, but there are ways to get around that. Every single course ordered individually in DVD or audio format is discounted 70% at least once a year, so if you select courses you'd like and keep an eye on them, you are assured of eventually getting them at a reasonable price.
Additionally, the company has recently added a new streaming service called The Great Courses Plus! For $14.99 a month or $179 a year you gain access to a wide array of courses. Though not all of their courses are available on The Great Courses Plus as of this writing, there are currently 270 of them there, and more being added regularly. Their traditional catalog offerings for individual courses (not lectures, full length courses) numbers 663.
We hope, if you have not yet considered adding The Great Courses into your curriculum, that you will consider giving this "most excellent" resource a try!