Sunday, January 12, 2014

MOOCs are cool



I started joining MOOCs last year and I have become addicted to them.

What's a MOOC?  A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.  It is an online course that is usually free to take and open to anyone with an internet connection.  How much you participate is up to you.  They usually include video lectures, forums for discussions, assignments and quizzes.  Some offer certificates of completion if you do all the required coursework.  Here is a little more information http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course

Why do I love them so much?  I can learn about any subject in the world that interests me from experts in that particular field.  Classes are hosted from universities all over the world with professors from every background imaginable.  You don't need a degree or diploma to take part.  You can just watch the lecture videos that interest you or watch them all.  You can do the projects and quizzes if you want or do none at all.  How involved you become in a class is totally up to you.  

My favourite site is https://www.coursera.org/.  I am currently enrolled in Conditional Struggles in the Muslim World taught by Professor Ebrahim Afsah from the University of Copenhagen.  I'm not going to finish the entire course because it was run over Christmas and I just didn't have the time but I've learned a lot and my eyes have been opened to new opinions and ideas.  The course is open a couple more weeks so I'm hoping to get a few more lessons and videos tucked into my brain.

I sign up for anything that interests me knowing full well that if it turns out not to be interesting, I can just un-enroll.

I have a few courses starting soon that are interesting for me:

Think Again:  How to Reason and Argue from Duke University and taught by Professors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Ram Neta

Child Nutrition and Cooking from Stanford University and taught by Professor Maya Adam

Modern European Mysticism and Psychological Thought from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Professor Jonathan Garb

The History of Rock, Part One from University of Rochester and taught by Professor John Covach

Reason and Persuasion:  Thinking Through Three Dialogues by Plato from National University of Singapore by Professor John Holbo

As you can see, the subjects are very diverse and exciting.  

So instead of turning on one more "reality" television program, why not watch some real reality through an exciting lecture video in whatever MOOC you decide to try out.