The Great Courses
The Great Courses (TGC) is a series of college-level audio and video
courses produced and distributed by The Teaching Company, an American
company based in Chantilly, Virginia.
2 Business model
5 Further reading
6 External links
The company was founded in 1990 by Thomas M. Rollins, former Chief
Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human
Resources. Rollins had been inspired by a 10-hour videotaped
lecture series he watched while at Harvard Law School, and began
recruiting professors and experts to record lectures. Rollins
invested all his money in the company, at one point using up all his
credit cards, selling almost all his suits from his Washington days,
and living in an attic. Because his company was for-profit, Rollins
adapted course offerings to please customers; he threw out one course
because the professor constantly insulted the viewers during lectures
and he asked some other professors to re-record segments that had
unsupported political commentary. By 2000 the company was well
established, with about $20M in annual revenue. In October 2006,
the company was acquired by Brentwood Associates, a private equity
investment firm. In 2011, the firm had 200 employees. In 2016,
the company offered a streaming service, charging $20 per month, and
getting access via computer to about 280 courses in their catalog.
Bill Gates is a fan of
The Great Courses
The Great Courses and watches
DVD courses when traveling.
Chief executive Paul Suijk described
The Great Courses
The Great Courses as the "Netflix
of learning." Courses are offered on disks which are either DVDs or
CD-audio, and the courses are geared to "lifelong learners."
Customers tend to be older professionals and retirees who have had
successful careers. Courses cost from $35 to over $500. As of
2018, there are over 600 different courses in their catalog. A
benefit of the courses is that the person can learn without having to
worry about finishing assignments or slogging through a final exam.
A fan of the series is Bill Gates, who said the courses have
"incredible professors" who cover "every topic that you can think
of". Gates takes DVD courses with him on such topics as
oceanography, the surveillance state, and physiology.
The firm earns $150 million annually in terms of revenue, in 2016.
In 2018, the firm has competitors in terms of MOOCs such as Coursera
and Khan Academy. The production quality of the courses is "a cut
above" free courses offered on YouTube, according to a report in The
New York Times.
The firm sometimes sends recruiters to sit in on the lectures of
college professors identified as being good teachers, to assess
whether they might be suitable for course development; the best
prospects would do a lecture for the Teaching Company, and if enough
customers liked what they saw, the company would develop the
course. Professors submit detailed outlines for each course, and
company personnel would work with them to make sure that each 30
minute lecture was coherent and logical.
Analyst Heather Mac Donald, writing in the conservative publication
City Journal, described the courses offered by The Teaching Company as
more mainstream than what is offered at traditional American liberal
arts colleges. She described the course selection as being driven
by market forces, with the firm's founder, Tom Rollins, querying
customers as to what subjects they wanted to learn about, and using
market research techniques to figure out what courses to offer, and
even what lectures to include, to satisfy an intensely loyal customer
base. As a result, there is less emphasis in the catalog on issues
such as sexism and racism and more of a focus on "everything the
civilization has figured out so far and to discover new things",
according to Rollins. Courses cover thinkers such as Plato,
Aristotle, Cicero, Paul, Erasmus, Galileo, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes,
Spinoza, Dante, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton,
Molière, Pope, Swift, and Goethe. She writes that the survey
format predominates, with few in-depth courses on specific thinkers or
philosophical schools, and more emphasis on covering the fundamentals
of a subject, as if it was an introductory college course.
If the Great Courses were a college, its students would graduate with
a panoramic view of human accomplishment and the natural world.
Heather Mac Donald
Heather Mac Donald in City Journal, 2011
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
Heather Mac Donald
Heather Mac Donald (2011-06-21).
"Great Courses, Great Profits". City Journal (New York).
^ Bales, Kate (February 16, 1994). "Ivy League Courses for Price of a
Video". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 14,
2009. Retrieved 2009-06-21.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Sarah Max (May 27, 2016). "Born in the VCR
Era, Great Courses Seeks to Evolve". The New York Times. Retrieved
March 27, 2018. ... top educators accessible to the masses, the Great
Courses built a loyal audience of lifelong learners by making “the
world’s greatest professors” ...
^ Sarah Max (2013-07-29). "If Its Customers Love a Business, This
Equity Firm Does, Too". The New York Times.
^ a b
Bill Gates (January 4, 2018). "The 4 Learning Hacks Bill Gates
Swears By". Time magazine. Retrieved March 27, 2018. ...One of my
favorite sources for interesting lectures is The Teaching Company.
They get incredible professors to teach courses on pretty much every
topic you can think of. I always take at least one of their DVDs to
watch when I travel. Right now, I’ve got their courses on
oceanography, the surveillance state, and physiology....
Linda Mathews (1996-03-31). "Adult Education; No Tests and You Can Hit
Rewind". New York Times.
Kendra Nordin (2003-01-28). "From the college lecture hall to your
headphones". Christian Science Monitor.
Andrew Ross Sorkin (2014-09-05). "So
Bill Gates Has This Idea for a
History Class..." New York Times.