Masterclass offers online lessons with the super famous

If you wanted, say, acting lessons from Dustin Hoffman, you'd probably have to write a check that's bigger than the Empire State Building to make it happen. That's why Masterclass has such an appealing idea, a video-based tutorial site where, unlike those videos on YouTube, the teachers are the best in their field. In addition to acting classes taken by Hoffman, users can opt for tennis coaching from Serena Williams or photography lessons from Annie Leibovitz.

Each Masterclass costs $90, and for that you'll get up to three hours of video-based lessons as well as a series of interactive exercises to carry out. In the Hoffman classes, that'll include being matched with nearby students to try out scenes, upload the results and gain feedback from your classmates on the web. For the James Patterson course in writing, you'll also receive teaching materials that include some of the writer's early drafts to see how his novels developed. Online learning is a big industry, and it's likely to get bigger as more people try to better themselves without paying the fees for MIT or Harvard. The draw of learning your craft with a celebrity will probably help, too.