Thursday, January 10, 2013

Adventures in Online Learning

A while back, I mentioned that I was worried about my intellectual deterioration.

Now, as I am trying to figure out where I stand professionally, I have been thinking more about what I could be doing differently.  Sometimes, I feel as though I've taken the wrong path and need to do some (slow) back-tracking.  Other times, I feel as though I've already sealed my fate.

"Oh, you're so young... you'll be fine," I am often told.  Really?  Can I suddenly learn how to handle finance work... do I even want to??

Until I sort things out, I've taken to (free!) online learning.  The most alluring option was Coursera.org, which provides online courses of varying length (4-15 weeks, from what I've seen) with instructors from good universities.  There are so many interesting courses on there, topics ranging from nutrition to machines... but given work, I had to stop myself from signing up for too many.

The "class" I'm in right now... well, you can see it in the screenshot above.  I definitely wasn't expecting to need to draw back on my undergrad forays into programming, but I guess it's healthy???  Yes, once upon a time, I took classes in C++/data structures, Perl, and web programming... and although I was often scrambling/panicking, my grades were good.  I'm not sure what learning more will do for me, but I figure it's better to know something than not.

The assignments and quizzes are quite tough and time-consuming, and I think my ability to learn in an academic fashion has already gotten a little rusty.  I'm just hoping to get the 70 points I need to "pass" the class and earn a certificate.  Even if not, I have learned a lot already -- and will remember to take "easier" courses next time!!

These courses are low-pressure ways to learn, but you have to be very self-motivated to watch lectures and then do the work.  It helps to pick something very interesting to you... and it also helps during times of transition or when nobody seems available to hang out.

At the very least, I feel pretty good knowing I'm using the Internet for positive things...

3 comments:

  1. I'll be curious to hear what you think of the course when it's over. I've been looking at Coursera, but I'm on the fence about taking a class.

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  2. I've often thought of taking some online classes through a local community college. I've always wanted to improve my quantitative and science skills by taking some of the basic math and science classes I took in high school. It's humbling working in a place where people talk to me about their research and I have little clue what the words mean.

    Anyway, I'll look into coursera.org. I spend enough time online, might as well focus on some basic self improvement.

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  3. You mean Facebook is not positive?

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