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You probably haven’t heard too much about this “Superhero” club.

It counts Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, and Kelvin Doe among its members. They don’t wear masks, and we call them Autodidacts.

Thomas Edison had just three months of schooling. Elon Musk taught himself rocket science. Kelvin Doe isn’t signing autographs yet, but he is changing the world with this super power.

Autodidacticism doesn’t require accidental radiation. You can just start learning something on your own to get it. Because we can no longer pretend that schools will teach us everything. There was a time when YouTube and browsing the web brought us tiny snatches of learning online. Today, we have a whole universe of MOOC (Massively Open Online Courses) and online education sites to grab from.

One of the more recommended picks is Udemy. And the best among 22,000+ courses.

Online education is a crowded space. As Udemy adds 800 courses every month, this is a “crowd” which makes us ask the question every day — Which course should I pick?


The Neuroscience of Reframing & How to Do It

Price: Free

The Neuroscience of Reframing

Reframing goes back to the old example of seeing the glass as half empty or half full. Negative thoughts become obstacles to self-improvement. Reframing the negative with positive thoughts helps you avoid “thinking traps”. Reframing helps turn a stressful event into an ordeal or a challenge to be overcome. There is evidence to show the beneficial impact of positive reframing on physical and mental health.

In this free Udemy course, social scientist Anette Prehn uses ten lectures to take you behind the science and the strategies of reframing. Like me, you are sure to enjoy the example of Robinson Crusoe that she uses to show the power of the word “but” in changing our thoughts.

The Willpower Solution: Leverage the Power of Habits

Price: $149

The Willpower Solution

Willpower is overrated. Habits are underrated. But it is the latter you should focus on instead of betting all your 2015 resolutions on diminishing self-control. My friend Mihir Patkar says it is better to take a long-term view when trying to form a new habit How To Form A New Habit When It Seems Too Hard To Keep Going How To Form A New Habit When It Seems Too Hard To Keep Going Habits don't form overnight. Every year, we make these resolutions that call for major changes. If you want a new habit, you need to be ready for pitfalls and how to overcome them. Read More .

Late bloomer and Udemy bestselling instructor, Dean Dwyer dishes out the same advice when he devotes a whole section on the power of small consistent actions taken every day. Add the power of systems to that. He illustrates with some classic examples from Albert Einstein’s life and how author Steven Pressfield uses an awareness of stumbling blocks to get back into the flow of work. Try his do-it-yourself if you are being defeated by willpower… or lack of it.

Budget – Save – Win. Simplify Your Financial Life

Price: $19

Simplify your financial life

Knowing our self-worth is a measure for setting up steps to improve it. Productivity experts talk about financial abundance and how it frees us up to pursue our dreams. Financial abundance isn’t only about the bank account, but it also about how we reflect about money. And how we can stay on track.

Aaron Coleman takes a common sense approach to money management with this 1-hour course. This is for beginners who need to create a simple financial plan and system. Preaching about budgets is difficult to nail, but the instructor keeps it simple and well supported with high-quality videos and worksheets.

Basic Bodyweight Exercise To Get Strong, Lean, And Healthy

Price: Free

Basic Bodyweight Exercise To Get Strong, Lean, And Healthy

The New York Times helped popularize the 7-minute workout. We did our bit for the trend by collecting some 7-minute workout videos Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] Use Free 7 Minute Workout Videos To Get Into Shape [Stuff to Watch] There are lots of YouTube videos that can show you exactly how your workouts should be going, and they won't cost you a penny. Read More . But the movement is more indicative of our busy lifestyles, rather than taking a shortcut through a fitness regimen. Maybe, most of us have more time than that. Maybe, an under 20-minute workout in front of the TV could replace Game of Thrones.

This is a simple beginner’s bodyweight exercise program that can be performed anywhere. When you haven’t been exercising at all, it’s best to start slowly. There are quite a few other courses on Udemy which promise a lot more. But keep it uncomplicated with the eleven movements on this quick course, and then you can jump to the more advanced ones.

Breathing Made Easy — To Manage Stress and Reduce Anxiety

Price: $20

Breathing Made Easy

Breathing from your belly is recommended for everything from deep meditation to running a marathon. It’s a skill which we are born with but lose to adulthood. If you are a believer in mindfulness Learn Meditation On Any Device & Don't Spend A Dime Learn Meditation On Any Device & Don't Spend A Dime Contrary to popular opinion, you can meditate without a yoga mat, religious guidance, a peaceful personal space, incense candles, and any other apparatus. Here's a simple tool to help you begin. Read More or just want to learn the tricks to relaxation, then learning how to breath is the first step.

Proper breathing is as essential to our well-being as exercise. As a qualified psychologist, Dr Randy Paterson gives his best advice on how to manage stress and reduce anxiety through a four-stage breathing exercise program. The key takeaway from this course is how to use stress as a cue to relax rather than tense up even further.

The Art of Parenting

Price: $29

The Art of Parenting

It can be argued that being a successful parent is the end goal for most of us. While we shouldn’t believe that a course can teach us to be better parents, let’s not discount the fact that there’s a lot we can get out of deliberately going for it.

Over the course of 29 lectures, The Art of Parenting shows the finer points of nurturing a well-adjusted family. More difficult than it sounds, but the commonsense approach and the short instructions help to drill the awareness we all need.

Karl Taylor’s FREE Photography Course

Price: Free

Karl Taylor's FREE Photography Course

Learning shouldn’t be all work. With a hobby to work on, it can be play as well. Photography is a common hobby with the ubiquity of smartphone cameras. Photography is a tough art to master, but the learning curve comes with the chance to create many photo memories. Udemy has many free online photography courses Master Photography By Studying It: 10 Great Online Photo Courses Master Photography By Studying It: 10 Great Online Photo Courses There's a lot of theory and knowledge behind a beautiful photograph, so much so that it can be overwhelming for the beginner. Fortunately, there are some great online resources that make getting started easier. Read More on offer.

Karl Taylor’s photography course is excellently produced. The free course covers the fundamentals well. Newbies should need all the 22 lessons to go through all of the basics of photography — including equipment, exposure, lighting, composition, and more.

How to Work for Yourself

Price: $19

How to Work for Yourself

We all want to improve the way we work and live. We want to get started on that new hobby. We want to write that bestseller. Above all, we want to work for ourselves. But there’s always an excuse. The ability to finish what you start How to Kill Motivation Sucking Vampires & Finish What You Start How to Kill Motivation Sucking Vampires & Finish What You Start Life projects that are stalled? Yes, we all have them. The story is always the same. We start with an idea but never see it through. Break the brittle obstacles and persevere with these tips. Read More separates the doers from the wishers. The antidote is focus.

Instructor Bryan puts all the tips he has learnt into this course. The objective is to help you optimize your time, use your energy to stay motivated, focus on what’s really important, and discover the power to get your projects completed. If you have read a lot of self-improvement books and articles, most of the tips will be familiar. But stick with it… your motivation might kick in again.

Become a SuperLearner

Price: $149

Become a SuperLearner

I am not a big votary of speed reading for engaged learning. But give me a trick or two to improve my memory and I am all ears. Both skills are useful for the information dense times we live in. Start with the belief that anyone can develop superior learning skills.

Entrepreneur and life-hacker Jonathan A. Levi “promises” by the end of the course you will be able to read at least 3 times the speed of an average college graduate, with above-average comprehension and retention. And round it off with abilities to process information more effectively. The course comes with good reviews and was Udemy CEO Dennis Yang’s #1 Staff Pick.

Become a SpeedDemon: Automation & Efficiency to Reclaim Time

Price: $199

Become a SpeedDemon

It comes down to the clock. You can only do so much in 24 hours. That’s why it is necessary run each day like a well-oiled machine.

We stick to Jonathan Levi as he takes us through a comprehensive course on building better systems, cutting out time-wasters, and making better use of the computer. The practical strategies and tips should at the very least help you reclaim some part of your day. 36 lectures and 2.5 hours of content. The meat of the course starts from Section 2.

How to Release the Fear of Public Speaking

Price: $139

How to Release the Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking has always found a place in the “biggest fears’ list. But as Dann Albright showed us – there’s hope. You can kill your public speaking fears Slay These 8 Public Speaking Demons to Conquer Your Fear Slay These 8 Public Speaking Demons to Conquer Your Fear It's often said that people fear public speaking more than death. But it's something that many have to do regularly. Here are eight public speaking demons and how to kill them. Read More with a bit of practice and a pill of confidence. It’s not only about getting on stage. It can just be finding your voice in a business meeting. It’s normal… and you can release the gasket of fear.

Alexa Fischer is an LA-based actress and career coach. In this course, she will help you identify your fears and use Energy Psychology techniques to work around them. With 29 lectures and 3.5 hours of content you should feel a lot more empowered.

Learn HTML5 Programming From Scratch

Price: Free

Learn HTML

Learning about authoring and delivery formats is going to be an asset as we go deeper into the technological age. As the web gets increasingly interactive, HTML5 will be one of the mortars building it. Technically, it is the combination of three technologies together: HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

If you have zero coding experience, learning HTML5 is a good place to start. Think of it as the “official language” of the web. You can create a simple multimedia website, customize web forms, provide tech support, create games, or just feel more confident. Most of all, it could be the stepping stone for more programming peaks. The 46 lectures and 10.5 hours of content should lead to a the making of your first full-fledged HTML5 website.

Also recommended is Ryan Bonhardt’s Build Your First Website in 1 Week with HTML5 and CSS3.

Microsoft Excel 2013 Course Beginners/ Intermediate Training

Price: $99

Microsoft Excel 2013 Course

Why a spreadsheet course? Microsoft Word and Excel skills are basic professional skills 5 Microsoft Word & Excel Skills You Must Have to Succeed at the Office 5 Microsoft Word & Excel Skills You Must Have to Succeed at the Office "Get that report to me, ASAP!" A core set of Microsoft Excel and Word tricks can make this task less stressful and help you whiz up a stylish report in no time. Read More . Becoming proficient at Excel is useful to manage and analyze any type of data. As against Word, learning a spreadsheet application is a more daunting prospect. More so, if you have a fear of numbers.

But learning Excel can be fun. Get your feet wet with Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Expert in 6 Hours which is a free course. Then, enroll for the more advanced course from the Canadian based company. The 107 lectures, video tutorials, and practice files should help you get a stronger foothold over a weekend.

The Complete iOS8 and Swift Course: Learn by Building 15 Real World Apps

Price: $199

The Complete iOS8 and Swift Course

“I want to build an iOS app” is a common question. Where do you start? First, you learn how Apple’s new programming language How Does Apple's New Programming Language Affect Me? How Does Apple's New Programming Language Affect Me? From the get-go, developers knew Apple's new Swift was going to be big. But why should you care? Read More affects you. Then, you begin the process of mastering it with the help of online tutorials and books.

Going by the ratings, Rob Percival’s is easy to follow. It is exhaustive with 165 lectures going to 23 hours of content. Watch the preview of the first two chapters before you decide to take this course and start building your apps. You sharpen the saw by building 15 “Real World Apps”. If you need more ideas, turn to these six Swift projects for beginners So You Want To Make iPhone Apps? 10 Projects For Beginners So You Want To Make iPhone Apps? 10 Projects For Beginners Want to create iPhone and iPad apps? Start by learning the basics of Swift. Read More .

For a quick overview, spend an hour on How To Build A Mobile App.

The Essential Guide to Entrepreneurship

Price: $199

The Essential Guide to Entrepreneurship

It’s all about startups these days. Take away the sheen of million dollar earnings, and it’s back-breaking work. Not all entrepreneurs make it. But all dream big. As Guy Kawasaki once said — Great companies start because the founders want to change the world… not make a fast buck. And the renowned tech evangelist is on Udemy with his new course.

As the description suggests – it’s never too late to start. The course is for budding entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and experience levels. 55 lectures and 4 hours of Kawasaki wisdom should make a good first step. Look forward to his anecdotal stories.

How Do You Pick an Udemy Course?

The effectiveness of online instructional platforms like Udemy are tied to the quality of the instructor. A paid course may not meet your needs. Before you plonk down serious money, follow some commonsense rules.

  • Go through the course overview and the curriculum. See if it makes sense as a complete course.
  • Watch the introductory video and any previews if available. Every course allows you 5 minutes to preview the course.
  • Decide if the presenter is clear with the accent and diction. Get a feel of the presenter’s knowledge.
  • Read the instructor’s Bio.  Check if they have the experience that you want in an instructor.
  • Look at the ratings score and the number of students taking the course.
  • Read all the reviews… especially the negative ones to balance the biases.
  • Watch out for discounts and coupons.

Udemy courses are made by a diverse group of instructors for a global audience. Requirements and expectations may vary. I have often found the Udemy free courses as useful primers. Watch the Popular Course page on the site. Udemy stories are always worth a read for some extra motivation for self-improvement.

It’s time for your story. Have you been to Udemy to learn something new? Give us your recommended course picks.

Image Credits: climbing the stairs Via Shutterstock

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