Today was the first day for the second running of Eric Foner's Civil War & Reconstruction course series. You can enroll here at this link: Eric Foner's The Civil War & Reconstruction. The series is outstanding. There are three courses offered in the series that take the learner from the antebellum period to the end of Reconstruction in 1877. I highly recommend these courses for anyone who is interested in the Civil War and wants a chance to learn from a master of the craft.
EdX is the platform the courses work on. They are completely free and there are no essay assignments. For a fee you can earn a certificate if you desire one. The course is completely asynchronous with the video lectures accessible at any time. There are suggested readings which are useful. I read two of Foner's books during the series and found it beneficial, especially in the Reconstruction course.
I found the courses to be enjoyable. Forums are available as well and there were some very good conversations that took place. A few Lost Causers showed up in the first week or two, but they pretty much vanished when they discovered that no one was interested in their mythistory and lies. The video lectures were filmed from Foner's final course on the subject at Columbia, so this is a great chance to "sit in" on actual college lectures.
I found the Reconstruction course to be the best. I still reference the lectures from time to time and it really helped me develop the chapter that kicked off my newest course which I am teaching this semester, American History from 1865. This is probably one area of history that is least understood and as we go through the 150th anniversary of the period, I am sure there will be some disagreements as heritage types complain about facts being used to revise history.
Again, I highly recommend this series. The courses do not need to be taken in their entirety as a series. If you are conversant with the Civil War materials and weaker on the Reconstruction, you can take that course without taking the other two. In any event, I do not think you will be disappointed.