I’m two weeks from finishing my third Coursera course. Even though it’s meant extra time management, I’ve had a lot of fun. This most recent course, Music’s Big Bang: The Genesis of Rock ‘n’ Roll, has turned me on to a lot of music and taught me some interesting history. I found out that I’m not a fan of old, guttural blues, but Fats Domino is pleasing to my ear. I know why Chess and Sun records were such big deals, and I realize that Led Zeppelin, one of my favorite bands, owes a great deal of their catalog to artists who predated them by a few decades.
Before this, I took a course about nutrition and diet trends. Before that, my first course was one about irrational behavior. From each of these, I came away with knowledge that changed some of my thinking and some of my behaviors. I took the classes at my own pace, and it didn’t cost a thing.
I love MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).
I have no desire to go back to school, but I like to learn new things. The structure of weekly lessons, videos, tests, and the occasional assignment is just my speed. Coursera has certified options for those looking to have something more official, but you can receive a certificate of accomplishment just for taking the tests. Different classes have different requirements for earning a certificate. You can do as little or as much work as you want.
Coursera also offers message boards where you can interact with other students, and some classes count your interactions as part of your final grade. Because I’m not a message board person, I generally opt for just watching the videos and the taking the tests. For people who tend to be group learners, this feature is awesome.
Another learning opportunity I’ve recently started is Code Academy. Jon clued me in to this site when I told him I wanted to learn more about coding. I’m not the best at wrapping my mind around tech concepts, but I think if I focused and put time into it, I could be. In fact, were I to go back to school, it would probably be to get a degree in coding or programming.
Code Academy gives you points and badges for getting through step-by-step lessons and learning the building blocks of code. I did three fun ones before starting the actual course. It’s fun, though it’s a little bit harder for me than the Coursera courses.
There are other sites on the web that allow you to sign up for courses and lessons. Some are free, some have a fee, and some are a mix of both. If you’re looking for an actual degree, you still have look into classes from an accredited school, but I think the implications of MOOCs as other avenues of learning are exciting.
Plus, if you’re a geek like me, learning for the sake of learning is a blast.
Question: Have you ever tried a MOOC?
Bonus question: Do you think MOOCs could ever replace a college classroom setting?
*I haven’t been asked by either Coursera or Code Academy to do this post. I really just wanted to share something cool with my readers.