Opinion | MasterClass brings joy to online learning

The official MasterClass logo.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia / MasterClass

The official MasterClass logo.

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

Over the past several months, students across the country have switched from in-class to online learning due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With classes on either Zoom or Skype, many college students, especially those here at the University, have struggled to acclimate to these new learning conditions, thus making some classes unenjoyable. Though online learning has become popular in recent years and the “new normal” as of late, there are some bright sides to the situation. 

A new online education platform has taken the world by storm with virtual classes of their own. Created in 2014, MasterClass is not a typical learning environment with basic subject matters. In these classes, world-renowned celebrities like Gordon Ramsey, Bob Iger and Joyce Carol Oates teach their respective fields, and make the experience for students all the more enjoyable.

When first hearing of MasterClass a few years ago, I thought a celebrity giving their expertise and insight of their field to students anywhere was a remarkable task. Last Christmas, I decided to give the classes a go myself. So far, the experience couldn’t be better.

First beginning with famous mystery writer James Patterson, his series of 22 lessons ranged from such topics like finding the idea for a novel and writing a great opening line to the writing process itself and how to deal with publishing companies. The lessons, along with a hands-on workbook and an outline of his 2005 novel “Honeymoon,” taught me so much about the world of writing and his process behind being so prolific and producing dozens of books a year. 

Thereafter, having wanted to learn more about the writing process from other authors, I watched classes from such writers like Dan Brown, David Baldacci, Judy Blume and Margeret Atwood, all teaching their field in a way that inspires their students to get going and start writing for themselves. 

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Watching these classes from the comfort of home on a mobile device has been a game changer. In each video, the instructor focuses on one topic at a time and discusses it looking straight at the camera, or the student, which creates a much more intimate and engaging learning experience. 

A yearly subscription for $180 will gain students access to all lessons from over 80 instructors in all types of fields like writing, music, business, film, culinary arts and sports. Compared to average costs for higher education, it’s a steal.

Other such classes I’ve taken include presidential history and leadership from Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, country music from Reba McIntire and mixology from Lynette Marrero and Ryan Chetiyawardana. These classes pulled me into each particular field with an open mind and the motivation that I could achieve the kind of success the instructors have during their career.

What also makes MasterClass such a worthwhile investment for anyone is that fact students don’t have to watch the entire class as whole. They can pick and choose any such video they would like from any lesson which also helps make the service a well-spent purchase. I have done this with multiple classes from instructors like Steve Martin on comedy, Bob Woodword on investigative journalism, Shonda Rhimes on writing for television and Howard Schultz on leadership. Doing so is just as great as taking full classes. 

Though online classes for school were a bit of a struggle these past eight weeks for me and many others, taking classes on MasterClass has taught me that online learning isn’t so bad. As opposed to college courses, there are no due dates for assignments, no professor not answering emails, or no classes so dreading to take. 

MasterClass students have the power to dive into subjects in which they have always wanted to learn or ones completely new. With the decade only six months done, MasterClass is a great starting point for learning what you please which could transform your life.

Sometimes in life, it’s best to do what we can and adapt to the ever changing times around us.

We might just surprise ourselves.

Noah is a junior in the College of Media.

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