Universal Class—take a free online class, from a certified teacher, through the Seattle Public Library

If you have a library card, chances are good that you have used the library at some point to enhance your knowledge of a topic or a craft. You might have borrowed a cookbook to try out a new cuisine, taken guitar lessons on DVD, used a study guide to ace a test, or accessed our car repair databases to change the alternator on your vehicle. You might even have signed up for one of the library’s in-person classes on subjects such as Computer Basics and Genealogy.

I would now like to introduce a new and different way to learn through the library—a website called Universal Class. This is an actual online school where anyone with a library card can take classes with other students, for free, from a real, live, certified teacher. There are more than 500 classes available, in a wide range of topics including health and fitness, arts, history, job search skills and computer programs.

Here are some highlights:

• You can take up to five classes at once, for free, and have six months to complete each one.

• Classes do not provide transferable college credit, but the school is accredited with the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET.)

• Everything is structured very much like a college distance learning class, so you can find out how distance learning works for you with very little risk.

If this sounds appealing, it’s easy to get started. You’ll find Universal Class in the “Articles & Research” section of the Seattle Public Library website, under the heading “Education” or jump straight this Universal Class page. (If you’re doing this on a computer outside the library, you’ll need to enter your library card number and PIN to access Universal Class.)

Next, set up a free account to access the full website. Then, search for a class by keyword or browse by subject. Click on the name of any class to find out exactly what you can expect to learn and find out more about the teacher. Where did they go to school? What experience do they have in the field? Once you find a class that interests you, simply click to sign up and you’ll be on your way.

Questions or comments about Universal Class? Ask a Librarian!

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