Saturday, December 21, 2013

Coursera, edX, ...

You may have noticed my new obsession with free online courses, the so-called MOOCs.
Here are the courses I'm actually taking/seriously considering: 
My current online courses - Coursera
 My experience so far is recounted here
My upcoming online courses - Coursera
I have ambitious plans (too many courses) for January/February.  Will probably drop something.
My upcoming edX courses
Happy holidays!


t said...

It's day 2 of 2014, and I feel great.

I am thoroughly enjoying my online law course titled Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World. It has tremendously intelligent discussion forums, elegantly presented videos by Ebrahim Afsah, a professor at the University of Copenhagen; it covers week-by-week the history (starting with ancient history, empires and wars and so on, very romantic) and legal/economic features of regions in the Muslim world e.g. Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, and so on. Amazing experience.

It's time for my, and my students', certificates of accomplishment in the two courses completed last quarter. I just received the signed online certificate for Internet History, Technology, and Security, with distinction, alhamdulillah, and expect soon to receive the same from Digital Music Programming aka Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists.

I am very proud that I got my students to take both courses, as they got an undeniably world-class experience. Charles Severance (a professor of Information at University of Michigan) and Ajay Kapur (a professor of Music Technology at CalArts) were the respective lead instructors. Charismatic, Expert, and they brought in a lot of outside resources - guest lecturers, archival videos, and of course borrowed from the pedagogical and multimedia expertise developing in the online learning company.

By the way, I aim to spend some time upgrading my weekly assignments which were usually seriously amateurish 30-second digital compositions, to more beautiful compositions. It was usually hard labour getting the assignments done during the course, but now, maybe I'll be able to approach them in a more fun, experimental, and even public-oriented manner. Wish me luck.

Next, I'll tell you about my future plans.

t said...

This guy (Wang Zhen) has taken 40 online courses. That is not my plan :) but it's an inspiring achievement and person.

Now I'm thinking about how to manage my workload in January and February. I will definitely stick with the Const. Law course, it's more than half done, and I love it very much anyway. I will definitely take Roman Architecture, you don't know how much I love looking at Architectural coffee-table books with their glossy pictures of art and spaces from around the world. And I am definitely going to start "Was Alexander Great?". I care about the topic - very much, so I will see if I care also for the format or style of the course.
Mathematics: Most of the Linear Algebra course will NOT be new to me, in fact I'm signed up only out of curiosity about one small topic that will likely appear at the end: something about programming libraries. I'll drop LinAlg.
Functional Analysis will be great to master. I've taken a course in similar topics before, didn't understand most of it, but I was engaged by the beauty of it. Also, its known application (in numerical solutions for partial differential equations) is NOT in my area of expertise or interest, which as far as differential equations goes is usually "ordinary" differential equations. But sometimes it's nice to learn maths for its own sake. To advance a little in the language of geometry/topology, analysis/logic, etc. So I think there's a 90% chance that I'll seize the opportunity this course presents.

40% chance that I'll take International Human Rights, which starts in February, just as Const. Law is ending.
95% chance that I'll take public economics, which I think will start in April, when I'll be done with most of the other courses. If/When Financial Markets (Bob Schiller, Nobel Laureate 2013) holds, I'll likely take that.

So we have:
Internet Hist Tech & Security
Digital Music Programming

Const Muslim World
Roman Architecture
Was Alexander Great
Functional Analysis

(Optional) Int'l Human Rights
Financial Markets
Public Economics

Then maybe I'll quit. Maybe not.

t said...

Week One of Roman Architecture.
I like what I'm learning - it's hard for me to say no to knowledge, really. The weekly workload seems small. Still, I may drop it or just audit it - no certificate. Why?
1. My interest in Roman Architecture is not great enough to sustain me through three months of study.
2. It's nice to be fully in or fully out, not half-and-half. And my heart is not fully in.
3a. I'm tired right now. 3b. Functional Analysis starts soon too.
4. I can take it "tomorrow" when I want it more. Or maybe there'll be a more general course in World Architecture.

t said...

I nearly forgot - there's the Alexander course too coming up. Well, no need to do both RomanArch AND Alexander. Or is there?
Ah so hard to decide.

t said...

Roman Arch: Dropping it tonight.
Alexander: will look and decide.
Funct Anal: likely to take this.
Fin Mkts: 50-50 chance
Public Econ: likely to take this.

t said...

Functional Analysis just started. It has some dense reading material which I will skip and some attractive, short, videos, which I will keep. A lot of it is familiar, but as with programming, somehow I'm STILL not an expert after all these years. Not an expert even after seeing this material in undergrad (particularly during an applied math summer school in 2000) and again in grad school (especially in CDS202 Geometry of Nonlinear Systems.)
Nothing wrong with flirting with a subject that continues to appeal and tease anyhow.
Next week, Alexander begins while Muslim World (almost) ends.