Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
According to a Nielsen data, the average American household watches 155 hours of television a month. The rest of the world watches significantly less, but the number is growing each year.
This trend is troubling because that time has to come from somewhere and being that we’re all limited in the amount of time we can spend on any one activity, it’s usually our hobbies that are taking a back seat.
That’s where we come in. As a service to the world, we at Make Use Of think it’s about time you take on a new hobby over a weekend. To aid in this endeavor, we’ve tapped the masterminds over at Udemy — a MOOC (massive online open course) facilitator that offers thousands of amazing courses.
Some inspiration might get you off the couch, into learning a new skill that you could grow to love as a hobby. Even more than your hours spent watching re-runs of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” on Netflix!
Besides the $30 for enrollment, all you need to take this course is a deck of cards, a desire to practice, and a bit of free time.
The course is taught by two professional performers, Blake Douglass, and Jason Wethington. Between the two of them, they have performed for the St. Louis Rams, Orlando Magic, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and The Smithsonian as well as performing at the world famous Magic Castle and at Walt Disney World.
Within the course you’ll find video instruction not just for the tricks you’ll be learning, but other foundations of sleight-of-hand magic such as springing, palming the card, and various cuts. The course features 47 short videos totaling about four hours of instruction. Each video teaches techniques, tricks and variations of some truly cool card tricks, and overall the course is a lot of fun and highly rated by those who took it.
If you enjoy the course, you can move on to another offering by the instructors, such as this one that teaches you coin tricks. Or you can try your hand at card tricks for free with these YouTube videos.
Other highly-rated magic courses:
- Easy Magic Tricks ($18)
- Practical & Easy Magic Tricks for Everyday People ($19)
- Amazing Magic Tricks that Are Easy to Do ($17)
Over 6,000 students have taken this course, and it has a near-perfect rating by those that have taken the time to review it. With a track record like that, this makes an excellent weekend foray into the addictive world of photography.
The instructor, Bernie Raffe actually took home an award in 2014 after being voted one of Udemy’s most outstanding instructors. A member at the “associate” level of the MPA (Master Photographers Association), Bernie has a passion for photography, and is well-reviewed as a knowledgeable, entertaining and engaging instructor.
All the course requires is a compact camera, but several of the 50+ videos (over 6 hours) delve deeper into topics that are best left for those with a DSLR. That said, if all you have is a compact, there’s plenty here to teach you the foundations of photography as well as some key concepts that apply no matter what type of camera you own. And, when you decide it’s time for a DSLR you’ll certainly have a step up from the complete photography novice.
Or, you can take Part 2 of Bonnie’s Course.
Other highly-rated magic courses:
- Photography Masterclass: Your Guide to Photography ($99)
- The Art of Black and White Photography ($56)
- Karl Taylor’s FREE Photography Course (Free)
This course hooked me with a Matrix-like sentence: “…reality isn’t real, there are only perceptions.” If your perceptions tend to skew toward the negative, or you lack real confidence in speaking to others, your appearance, or other perceived shortcomings, this may be the course for you. This is not exactly a hobby course, but “happiness” is at the core of everything we do isn’t it!
By the end of the lessons, course instructor Harvey Volson — a human behavior analyst — ensures us that each student will be “happier and more confident” in everything they do. With over 1,100 former students, and near-perfect rating, he might just be right.
The course itself is a short one, and you can easily digest the videos in just about 60 minutes. From there, you’re left to apply the techniques within, and attempt to make truly profound change in your mindset, and the way you interact with others. Those who take the course categorize it as simple, authentic, and effective, even though most of the items within it are more of a reminder of what you already know, and how to combine these tools into becoming a new you.
Other highly-rated happiness courses:
- Being Happy: Your Guide to True & Lasting Happiness (Free)
- Happiness: New Habits – Apply Science of Positive Psychology ($99)
- Science of Happiness: Positive Psychology Research and Tools ($41)
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a super genius with an eidetic memory this is the sort of class that can get you closer to that goal. While it’s not going to make you absorb and retain a reference book full of information in mere minutes, it can get you closer to learning and recalling information faster than you ever thought possible. But if you’d prefer to slow down your reading, we’ve got you covered there too.
The course was recently selected as the #1 Staff Pick and has been updated for 2015. The instructors, Jonathan Levi (who can read 800+ words per minute — nearly 3-times the average reading speed), Dr. Lev Goldentouch and Professor Anna Goldentouch are adamant that anyone can develop these skills and that with practice and the proper techniques you too can become a “super learner.”
The focus areas involve three core areas, referred to as “super skills.”
- Speed-reading with 80%+ comprehension
- Memory techniques for storing and recalling vast amounts of information
- Developing the cognitive infrastructure to support new information long-term.
It’s one of the most popular Udemy courses with over 40,000 students enrolled and 354 ratings (most of which are 5 stars). Give it a try this weekend and see if you’re well on your way to becoming a genius by Monday.
Other highly-rated courses like this:
- 10x Power Learning – Learn Speed Reading and Memory Techniques ($99)
- Speed Reading for Work/Leisure ($36)
- Become a Speed Reader: Double Your Reading Speed in 30 Days ($32)
Many of us assume that artistic talent is something you’re born with. However, others (like the instructor of this course – Matthew Fussell) argue that it is a skill like any other, and with proper training and practice, anyone can learn to be at least passably artistic.
Featuring over 6 hours of artistic instruction as well as an over-the-shoulder camera view of some truly impressive works of the instructor, this class (which has over 4,400 students enrolled) looks to offer phenomenal instruction at a pace that even the most non-artistic amongst us can understand.
Matthew Fussell designed the course for anyone that is looking to improve their drawing skills, and he assures us that beginners are indeed welcome.
Other highly-rated drawing courses:
- Figure Drawing from Life Using the Reilly Technique (FREE)
- How to Draw Cute Cartoon Characters ($22)
- How to Draw Animals: From Anatomy to Rendering ($17)
Italian food is one of the most celebrated types of cuisine on the planet. If you want to learn how to make amazing dishes such as bolognese, homemade ravioli, carbonara, or even a homemade pizza, this is the course for you. In addition to some amazing dishes, you’ll also learn fundamentals of Italian cooking such as rolling and cooking your own pasta and making your own sauces.
The instructor, Azlin Bloor, is a private chef and culinary instructor that hosts her own live cooking shows on YouTube and Google+ that focus on international cuisines ranging from Asian to Italian to Middle Eastern and more.
In just about 2 hours and with over 20 lectures, Bloor is sure to take your international cooking game to the next level. But don’t stop there, you should also check out 5 fun culinary challenges, and learn how to create more creative meals.
Other highly-rated cooking courses:
- How to Bake a Cake: Victoria Sponge (FREE)
- Thai Cooking Class with Chef Kae ($24)
- Online Pastry School – Gluten Free Bread Baking Course ($35)
If you have an unruly dog, you know just how difficult training could be. Thing is, most of us have all the tools we need to be a trainer, but we’re short on knowledge in how to break (or train) specific behaviors. This course aims to end the frustration with owning a dog, and teaching them basic animal behaviors such as leash training, controlling barking, and even puppy potty training.
As the course says, “Dog training is NOT rocket science.”
The course itself features over 5 hours of videos and is welcome to even the most novice dog owner up to intermediate owners who have a small bit of training themselves, such as attending a group obedience class or puppy training seminar.
The instructor, Sharon Bolt, is a contributor to more than 35 media sources and has appeared on the Chris Evan’s show, BBC radio, and others where’s she’s talked all things dog training from puppy chewing to stubborn older dogs refusing to go outside.
Other highly-rated dog training courses:
- From Puppy to Dog Training ($24)
- Elite Close Combat Training: Law Dog ($70)
- Dr. Ian Dunbar’s SIRIUS Dog Trainer Academy – All 4 Days ($99)
If you’re looking for a hobby that allows you to share memories with friends and family, there’s nothing better than learning how to make your own films about family events and travel. For most of us, filling your phone with vacation footage or your daughter’s ballet recital is a regular occurrence, but few of us know how to make anything extraordinary with these videos so they’re relegated to Facebook sharing and unwatched YouTube uploads.
The class, taught by film director Paul Jenkins aims to change all that. Jenkins intends to show you how to craft quality films that people actually want to watch using nothing but your existing equipment and showing you the ways experts create truly amazing video.
The course itself doesn’t dive into deeply technical tutorials or require expensive video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut, so it should be suitable for just about everyone. And if you’re on a budget, try these 5 simple DIY filmmaking hacks.
Other highly-rated video production courses:
- iPhone Video Production Course for Beginners (FREE)
- 6 Months of Film School in 101 Minutes ($67)
- Documentary Masterclass: Powerful On Screen Storytelling ($70)
Whether you’re brand new to the game, or you’ve been playing – badly – for years, Udemy has courses designed to improve your game. Known as “the game of kings,” chess, allows technology enthusiasts from non-noble bloodlines. In fact, you can think of it as the board game version of Game of Thrones, sans gratuitous nudity.
The course has no pre-requisites and players of any skill level are welcome to participate. In just about an hour, and with a mere 7 video lectures, you too can learn to play chess like Bobby Fischer, or, at least the kid who played Bobby Fischer in the movie.
Kidding aside, Igor Smirnov, an International Grandmaster, chess psychologist, and author is the mastermind behind the course. Where else in the world can you take a free class on chess given by a Grandmaster? Smirnov is also the founder of the Remote Chess Academy, a company responsible for the improvement of countless young players.
Other highly-rated chess courses:
- Quick fix Chess – Learn Chess In Under An Hour (Free)
- Chess Tactics Essentials (Free)
- Chess: From Beginner to Advanced at Warp Speed ($24)
Yoga is a great way to improve overall health while gaining peace of mind that comes with this relaxing form of exercise that focuses on stretching movements and controlled breathing. If you’re looking for a hobby with real health implications, yoga is obviously a great choice. It’s low impact, relaxing and carries with it a low risk of injury no matter what your age, physical condition or body type.
Marija Bukarac, a certified yoga instructor, leads you on the path to improved “flexibility, breathing, focus, concentration and decreased stress levels” with 38 lectures and over 3 hours of content. The course is intended for those of us that don’t have time to work out on a regular basis, and promises that with just 30 minutes of free time, you too can get that fitness boost you may be lacking. If you’re too busy for a course, you can also try these 10 yoga apps.
Other highly-rated yoga courses:
- Total Yoga Challenge: 15 Minutes x 15 Days ($25)
- Yoga as Meditation ($41)
- Introduction to Ashtanga Yoga: Power, Breath and Control ($20)
Have you ever taken a class at Udemy? Which one, and what did you like/dislike about it? Would you recommend it to others?