The Online & Free Education


This is such an amazing week.  It is such an incredible time to be young of mind and free to pursue educational desires.  Free, online classes are starting to populate for this semester.  I’m feeling more and more torn that I cannot just drop everything else in my life just to enjoy these amazing resources.  On the other hand, it was as if these classes were conceived with the busy, corporate worker in mind.  It’s as if the designers put every thought of my schedule and convenience when creating the online curriculum.

Coursera

Tonight is something of a historical night, now that two offerings on Coursera.org have finally come online after some time in preview.  I’m going to be following both the Software As A Service Berkeley class with Ruby on Rails, and Model Thinking from UMich.  The first is interesting because it is teaching something that is very relevant to the IT industry, whereas in general a computer science curriculum emphasizes the science and math aspect.  The second class fits more under philosophy or some other soft science.   I am very curious how they will be utilizing Coursera and how effective they will be in educating me.  

Luckily for the administrative hiccups, Stanford’s Coursera courses have all been delayed, and I might be able to consume all of their offerings after all.

Udacity

Tomorrow, the first Udacity CS classes will be launching!  I will be following along the CS 101 Search Engine class, although it hardly seems as basic as 101 suggests it should be.  Udacity will be an interesting experiment to see if Professor Thrun’s certifications for his classes will carry any weight in the real world.  I love the idea that a single man is doing what it took universities so long to get running.  I love that a single man will accredit his classes and universities be damned.  I would love to see a future where professors break free of the university model, break free of the ivory tower by getting real time feedback from the world, stay current with technological trends, and teach the world.

MITx

MITx is doing something similar to Stanford and Professor Thrun, in that they are offering free online courses then charging a fee for the certification, although if done correctly it shouldn’t be too different from other types of accredited engineering certifications.  I am excited they will be offering “real engineering” classes rather than so many more software classes.   But I won’t be experimenting on their platform until they’ve offered something I haven’t taken.  I am sad yet relieved at the same time!

Open Courseware

I’m also following along Berkley’s SICP class online in near real time. These are just independent study materials, but the exercises and projects have been educational!  I found this material to be easier to digest than the MIT opencourseware’s equivalent Intro to Computer Science course material.  Both courses are taught in Python.  The first has homework solutions and the later has the benefit of video lectures.  Probably the most wholesome approach is to use both, although I don’t plan to do that.

Others
I wonder how Codecademy.com and Codelesson.com will fare with these giants now playing in their sandbox?   It seems to me that neither offers a very complete solution to the online education problem.  Codecademy is still very vocational and lacks anything that resembles study material, while codelesson is essentially structured self study and doesn’t have the power to draw large virtual rosters.  
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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. bytex64
    Feb 20, 2012 @ 19:27:19

    Careful you don’t learn yourself to death.

    Reply

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