Learn from famous, accomplished people – online and on demand.

MasterClass offers insider access to a series of lectures from some of our culture’s most interesting talents – from famous chefs and architects to writers, producers, basketball players and actors. You can subscribe to a single course/class which is made up of 24 video lessons. The lessons are each 5 and 25+ minutes long. Entire classes range from 2 to 5 hours for all of the lessons.

This is not a personalized interaction with the famous person, but it is powerful to learn from these interesting people communicating the ideas and perspectives that drive them. There is an earnest sincerity to the lessons. I can almost imagine Steve Martin thinking that this will be part of his legacy. You can experience the videos, on-demand, online whenever you choose and as many times as you like. MasterClass fills a gap between brief TED talks and online college courses.

You can sign-up for a one-week free trial. Find a quiet weekend and connect with a ‘master’ who you admire. After the trial, you can sign up for a single course for $90 or buy a one-year, all access subscription for $180. There is 30-day refund if it doesn’t intrigue you. For each lesson, you will have permanent access to the online video lessons, a lesson plan which describes the lessons, a downloadable workbook and ‘office hours’ which admits you to a digital ‘chat’ among fellow students and sometimes follow-ups from the lecturer (the ‘Master’) on topics raised by online students. MasterClass

These subscriptions would make good presents for curious friends. I have enjoyed discussing ideas in book groups. I am going to find some friends who want to take one of these classes and discuss the lessons. A subscription would make a great gift to someone retiring, facing a convalescence or even someone who works flat out but wants entertaining and thought-provoking distraction.

MasterClass Instructors and Classes

Note: The workbook and any other class material can be downloaded, but you will need to be online to view the actual lessons.

Some of the courses are offered by:

Malcolm Gladwell teaches writing. Did you ever want to ask the creator of The Tipping Point where he gets his inspiration and how he writes?

Telling stories through images and how to create a photographic portrait.


Can’t get enough learning? Khan University offers 16,000 free online classes on a broad scope of topics. You might even be able to help your kids with math!

Helping Bill Gates with his homework …

Khan Academy