Confined to a bed. Any good educational DVDs/webseries/audiobooks?
March 31, 2013 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I've got some good books to read, and I've got plenty of entertainment-oriented movies to watch. But all day in bed is a long time and I'd like to mix it up with some good educational content. The only examples I have are Khan Academy and Simon Schama's The Power of Art. I'm open to most subjects (although I'd definitely like to get some history in there). For my tastes, TED talks feel a little disposable, and a lot of youtube educational series are presented with kind of hyper "edutainment" style that I find exhausting. Can anyone recommend some stuff that they've enjoyed?
posted by Anonymousness to Education (22 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Coursera! You can join open courses and get caught up at your leisure.
posted by MadamM at 11:34 AM on March 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: When a friend of mine was laid up I loaned him Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. He thanked me effusively, saying it was by far the best thing he watched during his illness.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:37 AM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Connections and The Day the Universe Changed!
posted by Erasmouse at 11:42 AM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you can get stuff from a library, some of the Teaching Company's offerings are good. The ones Carius recommends here were good, but they have plenty of topics.

iTunes U has some good stuff. I've listened to a couple of lecture series from Yale, including The American Revolution by Freeman, and the Philosophy for Beginners from a professor at Oxford is fun.

If Philosophy interests you, you might try the podcast The History of Philosophy (without any gaps). And for Roman history, you can't beat the History of Rome, bth available on iTunes as well as the websites.

Lastly, the BBC has a bunch of short documentary segments, available from their website or iTunes that cover a lot of "today's news" sorts of subjects, which I find interesting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:44 AM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: Sister Wendy's Story of Painting
posted by kimdog at 11:44 AM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

'life' or 'planet earth' ...IIRC they both come in 'David Attenborough' and 'Oprah' flavors...minimal narration, GORGEOUS photography...the part with the time-lapse starfish is unreal. The sand dollars are all like 'no no please dont eat us' and the sun star is all 'omnomnomnomnom' ('s pretty Clay-mation by Hieronymus Bosch rad...this really is a weird-ass planet we live on)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:03 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above. Anything David Attenborough is amazing. For instance his Life of Birds series (on Netflix instant).

As far as audio, I think you may love RadioLab (Listen Online) RadioLab is a public radio show/podcast that discusses many interesting human and scientific phenomenon such as numbers, laughter, the science of pain, and historical features.

Personally I love the episodes:

Oops, Sleep, Sperm, Space, and After Life - although I can listen to all of them over and over again.

You can also download to itunes if you don't want to stream online. If you subscribe in Itunes it gives you the list of all past episodes and shorts with descriptions.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:46 PM on March 31, 2013

This Ask might give you some pointers
posted by brilliantmistake at 1:15 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: The Story of Film by Mark Cousins. 15 episode history of film innovators from 1890s to today. See it on Netflix.
posted by Captain Chesapeake at 1:28 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: I noticed the other day that a couple seasons' worth of Scientific American Frontiers are available on Hulu for free. Alan Alda! Science! Two great tastes that taste great together.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:28 PM on March 31, 2013

iTunes U has an incredible variety of courses, many which are video lectures and reading/listening materials from Ivy League universities. Here's a selection of their most popular

This also seems like a great opportunity to learn a language, no? I'm not an expert on language learning systems but people often cite Rosetta Stone and Berlitz.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 1:31 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: On the audio front, In Our Time is flipping wonderful. The history section alone totals nearly 100 hours of 43-minute programmes. It's pretty much exactly the opposite of "disposable" and "hyper edutainment" (which I, too, find annoying).

If you want some video history, take a look at Terry Jones' Medieval Lives, available in its entirety on YouTube. It's slightly cute, but there's plenty of solid content there.
posted by pont at 1:32 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: David Blight's Open Yale course podcast on the Civil War is, as I recall, about 22 hours long. Wait for the bit on the Martyrs of the Racecourse.
posted by megatherium at 3:01 PM on March 31, 2013

When my mother-in-law had to spend a lot of time in bed, one of her favorites was this documentary on New York City . I've seen it myself and it really is quite good. There may be other things on that website of interest to you as well.
posted by gudrun at 3:26 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: Simon Schama's History of Britain is mesmerizing AND crammed with information. I don't know if you'd want two Simon Schama mini-series, though. A lot of time to spend in bed with the guy.
posted by kestralwing at 4:14 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: There are dozens of telecourses available at Annenberg Learner. These are mostly (maybe all) full telecourses, developed with various universities and usually shown on college-affiliated broadcast stations. You can watch nearly all of them online.

Just a few highlights:

American Cinema
Art of the Western World
A Biography of America
The Western Tradition
Ethics in America

as well as the ever-popular language courses

Destinos (Spanish)
French in Action
posted by kristi at 5:24 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: Seconding David Blight's Civil War course.

I enjoyed this series on the Cold War.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 5:25 PM on March 31, 2013

Best answer: UCLA Professor Eugen Webber's 1989 lecture series "The Western Tradition" is mentioned earlier by Guernsey Halleck. To me it is one of the best uses of television ever, even if it is just a guy talking about history with some slides. Ten years ago I paid more than $500 for the entire series on DVD, and I don't regret it a bit. You however, are more lucky, because the whole series can now be watched for free on youtube. I envy anyone who has the chance to see it for the first time. Webber's ultra-plummy Oxford/Romanian accent is just an extra bonus, as far as I am concerned. No one ever sounded as urbane and wise as Eugen Webber. Dang, I miss that guy.
posted by seasparrow at 7:58 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not what you asked for, but the parallel is too good not to comment on: Hey, you know who else was bedridden and wanted to learn something educational? Mystery author Josephine Tey's fictional Inspector Allan Grant! And while he was in the same position that you are, he learned a lot about Richard III, who you may recall was in the news recently. I guess you can tell that Daughter of Time is one of my favorite books.
posted by seasparrow at 8:20 PM on March 31, 2013

Hm, actually the Western Tradition was mentioned by kristi, not me. Credit where credit is due. But thanks for bringing what appears to be a great series to my attention.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 10:40 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Another vote for learning a language. This is what I do.
posted by sdis at 1:37 AM on April 1, 2013

If you feel like a change of pace, how about some how-to videos about building bathrooms? I know, I know, it sounds weird, but ever since somebody linked to a video about installing a barrier-free shower I've found myself rewatching it when I'm in the mood for something that's calm, informative, and mildly-yet-not-compellingly interesting. They've got a bunch of videos on their channel.

Ooh, there's another barrier-free shower video: heated floor. Must watch.
posted by Lexica at 6:25 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

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