Become a Paleontologist Online With the University of Alberta

I hope it's as easy as becoming a minister online.

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If you hate back to school time, we’ve got a bit of good news: This year brings with it the opportunity to study dinosaurs online for free. University of Alberta has an online course in dinosaur paleobiology that anyone can join as long as their relationship with computers is better than Dr. Grant’s.

The course begins on September 3 (next week!) and runs through January 10th, 2015. There’s no prerequisite knowledge required for Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology, and here’s what you can expect from the course description page:

Course material is delivered in a student-friendly short-form fashion, with numerous formative feedback sections. Many lessons are delivered from actual dinosaur dig sites. Students will gain access to a number of special interactive modules designed specifically for this course. These modules will grant users access to their very own virtual fossil collection, allow them to build dinosaur skeletons and provide them with an interactive visual representation of geologic time. This course’s unique lesson delivery, combined with a classic quiz structure, will enable students to quickly gain a solid foundation for understanding dinosaurs, their adaptations and behaviours, and their place in the long history of earth.

The course is part of a research program into online learning, so students can choose to remain anonymous or share their identity if they’d like to earn a verified certificate from completing the course. If you’re a student, it’s up to your own school whether or not to grant you credit for taking the course, but if that’s what you’re in it for, you’ll also have to pay a fee to take the final exam and be awarded credit.

It is important to understand that Coursera and the University of Alberta can’t actually grant you credit at your university or college. The decision to grant you credit is always up to the professors at your university or college. The University of Alberta and Coursera are committed to giving you everything you need to take to your university to request credit. We have built a complete course explanation package available to you when the course starts that gives you everything you need to take to your professors at your university for them to evaluate.

If you’re interested, you can head over to the course page for a video with more about the class and sign up for yourself. They also have a breakdown of what each week of the course will focus on, like “Week 3: ‘We’ll Have to See the Dinosaur’s Droppings'” and “Week 4: ‘They Do Move in Herds'” “Week 3: ‘Eating'” and “Week 4: ‘Moving Around,'” so you know exactly what you’ll be learning.

No word yet on whether cosplaying as Chris Pratt’s Jurassic World character earns you extra credit or not, but you were going to do that anyway.

(via tipster Dr. Victoria Arbour, Science Digital Learning Manager — University of Alberta, image via Jurassic Park)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.