Future Learn + 4 Universities + BBC= 4 Amazing WW1 MOOCs

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FutureLearn has announced an amazing collaboration between 4 University Partners and the BBC which gives learners a chance to learn about World War 1 in a whole new way!  The BBC has opened its archives and shared multimedia content covering various aspects of the war and each university will present a different aspect of the first World War – from Aviation to the Treaty of Paris and more.  

Why The Focus on World War One?

2014 marks the centennial year of the beginning of the First World War. The war began in the Balkans, but it soon spread to become a European conflict, and developed into a world war. It was a war of unprecedented scale and brutality, with countless casualties. It also left a poisonous legacy for the 20th century and beyond, and many of the issues that were left unresolved in 1918 would lead to another world war in 1939. 1914-1918 was a period in history that has proved provocative and culturally resonant for the last hundred years.

The BBC’s Commitment to Education and Technology

This is the first time a major public broadcaster has contributed to MOOCs, according to Future Learn.  “The BBC is committed to education and looking at how we can exploit technology to best serve audiences,” says Sinéad Rocks, Acting Controller of BBC Learning. “This is a great opportunity to explore how we can do that as part of our WW1 season, and working as a content partner with these four universities to help deliver online courses will help us establish how we can contribute to the UK remaining a world leader in online learning. MOOCs are an interesting and exciting area, and I’m looking forward to exploring what role we might play,”

Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn, said: “It’s our aim at FutureLearn to connect our university partners to other great centres of culture and knowledge, so I’m delighted to see the BBC and these four universities come together to create new learning experiences. The collaboration reinforces FutureLearn’s approach to online education, which draws on experts in great storytelling and academics to produce compelling courses for learners around the world.  And it’s the learners who are the real winners here, gaining access to the unrivalled resources of one of the world’s best known broadcasters, world leading educators, and each other, around an event as significant as the World War One centenary.”

 The New Courses

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University of Glasgow – World War One: Paris 1919 – A New World Order?      (Starts 13 October)

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 ended a Great War, but it also designed the post-war future. In 1919, world leaders assembled in Paris redrew the map of the world, partitioned and created countries, and ushered in a new era of international relations. The naivety of the peace-makers of 1919 has been justly criticised. However, in setting up a permanent ‘world organisation’, the League of Nations, they changed the management of world affairs forever…

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University of Birmingham – World War One: Aviation Comes of Age                  (Starts 20 October)

This course will investigate how the early days of aviation gripped the imagination of the general public, galvanised industry and excited far-sighted members of the military.  Aviation evolved rapidly during World War 1 with modern and more effective aircraft soon replacing the very basic machines that took to the skies in 1914. By the end of war, air power wasn’t just being used for reconnaissance but in ways that are still recognisable today. When the war was over aviation had truly come of age with the opening of mail routes, exploration and record setting exploits.

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University of Leeds – World War One: Changing Faces of Heroism                     (Starts 27 October)

Did the First World War make heroism meaningless or was it the conflict that gave it the most meaning?  Through discussion and analysis of art, literature, film and television, guided by our experts, you will explore the portrayals of heroism before, during and after the war. Drawing on rarely seen archive you will be curating a mini exhibition, exploring a war memorial and writing a review of a representation of war.  Together we will examine the changing faces of heroism from distant figureheads and brave warriors to the ordinary ‘Tommy’ and front-line nurses. The emergence of alternative hero figures, including anti-war campaigners and vulnerable, shell shocked soldiers, is also covered. 

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The Open University – World War One: Trauma and Memory                                               (Starts 3 November)

You will study the subject of physical and mental trauma, its treatments and its representation. You will focus not only on the trauma experienced by combatants but also the effects of the First World War on civilian populations. In this three-week course, you will discover just how devastating the effects of the First World War were in terms of casualties across the many combatant nations and look in depth at the problem of ‘shell shock’ and how deeply it affected the lives of those who lived through it. You will also develop the skills to carry out your own independent research.  The war was not only experienced on the battlefield, however, and you’ll explore the many and varied ways in which civilians’ lives were affected by it, for example in the way combatant casualties affected the lives of loved ones who were left behind.

 Which courses will you add to your To Learn list?  

 

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Ultimate Autodidacts: Einstein to Moffat

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The Guru

Going from a high school dropout to one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Albert Einstein was the embodiment of autodidactism.  His idea of a perfect date was to read physics texts for fun with his girlfriend – enough said.

Einstein’s introduction to science and mathematics by a childhood friend established an interest in a topic far beyond what he was learning in school.  He taught himself calculus by the age of 13.  Thirteen!  Thus began his foray into the world of self learning; It was simply far more interesting than the grammar and basic mathematics he was forced to sit through in school.

Perhaps Einstein’s greatest secret for success was his approach to learning.  He said:

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

He always believed in imagination, individuality, and inquisitiveness.  This is likely the reason (along with his accomplishments in the field of physics, advocacy for civil rights, and general good human-ness) why he became so widely admired.  This is also likely how John Moffat came to regard him so highly.

 

The Disciple

In the 1950s, Albert Einstein’s career had taken a nose dive.  He had written and spoken about theories that he had been unable to provide proof for over the last several years, which caused his reputation to take a tough hit.

At this point, a Danish painter by the name of John Moffat had just depleted the funds he was living off of in Paris as he honed his art.  He returned home to Copenhagen, Denmark where he returned to his love for reading at a nearby library.  Moffat devoured book after book about mathematics and physics, in mere months learning what took years for the average student to learn at University.

As he absorbed the knowledge, he became a fervent follower of Albert Einstein and his writings.  Familiar with the genius’ slump, Moffat (a high school dropout and painter with no credentials in physics) wrote Einstein a critical letter that analyzed all the things Moffat believed Einstein was doing wrong.  He didn’t expect a reply, of course, from such a famous and admired physicist.

Lo and behold when several weeks later, a hand-written letter in German came addressed to Moffat.  His lack of fluency in German forced Moffat to ask his local German barber for help translating the letter, which proved to encourage his efforts in physics.  Einstein took Moffat and his thoughts very seriously, pointing him to his newer writings and encouraging further replies.  This conversation continued for several letters during which Moffat successfully pointed out a poorly based mathematical assumption in Einstein’s calculations.  This interaction expanded into meetings with other great scientists of the time including Niels Bohr and Erwin Schrodinger.

It was Schrodinger’s recommendation, along with the extensive knowledge Moffat had amassed on his own, that allowed him to become the first accepted PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge without completing an undergraduate (or even secondary school) degree.

 

The Ultimate Autodidact

Albert Einstein is an undisputed genius who took on autodidactism as a fortunate hobby in addition to his more traditional education and work at Princeton University.  John Moffat took his Guru’s efforts a step further and forwent 8 years of (usually) compulsory formal study on the path to his own prestigious PhD.

Einstein and Moffat didn’t even have the beauty of the Internet at their disposal back in their times.  Imagine a modern day Moffat immersed in a MOOC with a Physics e-text on his Kindle in one hand and his online mind map on his tablet in the other.  Now that would be a force to be reckoned with.

How to Get Your Dream Job Without the Required Experience

Ambition of a young architect

Right major?  Check.  Enough software knowledge?  Check.  Cultural Fit?  Check.  Sufficient years of experience?  Uh-oh.

You’re looking at the job listing for your ideal gig just a little while after graduation and feel the excitement mounting inside of you with every requirement you know you can fulfill.  Then you see that you need 2 years of work experience – which you don’t have as a new grad.  Ugh.  Do you pull back and look for a position that you don’t want as much?  Do you resign yourself to a job you know will bore you for the next couple of years?

No.  Stop and think like a hiring manager. They are looking for candidates who know their stuff.  It just so happens that the general consensus says knowing your stuff requires some experience in the industry.  This study by McKinsey & Co. and Chegg even says that college graduates are under prepared but overqualified for employment…a finding that will naturally push hiring managers away from hiring recent grads.

So clearly, your next step should be to prove that you are sufficiently prepared for employment.  How?  Build a portfolio of work similar to what you would be doing on the job and submit it with your job application.  Refocus the potential employer’s attention on your skills and potential and away from metrics that don’t necessarily describe what you can do properly.  Here’s how.

 

Step 1 – MOOCs:  Learning the Skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are classes from well known Universities that professors modify for distance learning to allow access to any student for free.  Many of these courses teach exactly the same material as what the professors teach in their traditional classes, but you can take them in your spare time without spending money to build your knowledge and skills base.

Keep in mind that your major and college classes are not the full span of your capabilities.  An English degree is a great base for a copywriting career, but taking a few classes on your own time in marketing techniques can give your writing the boost you need to land that job at an ad agency.

Websites like Coursera and EdX provide great platforms for MOOCs.  It is important, however, to record your work for the class.  The assignments and projects you complete are great additions to your professional portfolio, as they legitimize the coursework you do through MOOCs.  You can keep track of all this by downloading your work as you complete it, or by using websites like Accredible to transfer all of your online coursework to one place that can be linked to the rest of your portfolio.

 

Step 2 – Speculative Projects/Case Studies:  Applying the Skills

There are case studies all over the internet – taking a few and using skills you learned from college and your MOOCs to write an analysis for each can help get your feet wet in the kind of thinking you need to solve problems in your industry.

Speculative or freelancing projects are also great ways to simulate what you will be doing later in a full time job.  Telling a small or mid-sized business or nonprofit organization that you are willing to help them out for free or little charge is an easy way to land some of these projects – this is time you are spending building work experience regardless of the amount you are getting paid.

Specifically working with nonprofit organizations in a volunteer position not only gives you the added experience for your newly developed skills, it also shows a more human side of your personality.  Maybe your volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity relates to your passion for fighting poverty, or perhaps your commitment to proper healthcare is showcased through your extensive work with the Red Cross.  Talking about your volunteer work in an interview is also great way to transition to you personal qualities and cultural fit.

 

Step 3 – Research:  Effectively Showcasing the Skills

Know what’s going on!  Read the news, find new articles on techniques and technology, and learn to use the newest software.  Once your profile gets you to an interview, you still need to prove that you can hit the ground running upon receiving an offer.

Having background knowledge about developments the company and its industry can help you come up with possible solutions to their problems before you are even working there – there is no better way than that to show that you would be an asset to the team.

Follow those three steps and you can show the hiring manager that you are perfect for your dream job because even though you don’t have years under your belt, you have the necessary skills and can demonstrate initiative to continue building more in the future.

He Flunked, Was Rejected, Went Bankrupt…And Then Founded The Walt Disney Company

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An actor, animator, filmmaker, and wildly successful businessman, its kind of shocking at first to hear that Walt Disney only had around 9 years of formal education.  He started school at the ripe old age of 7 and dropped out at 16 to join the military.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him, he was rejected for being underage and spent a year in France with the Red Cross instead.  After returning to the United States, Disney received his first job as a cartoonist in 1919, and the rest is history.

 

“Children have got to be free to lead their own lives.” – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

small_2917335255Despite having strict parents, Walt grew up doing what he wanted when he wanted.  He was a shrewd businessman even as a child.  After his father, Elias, bought a newspaper delivery route, Walt was made to work for him without pay.  He knew how to make the best of his situation, though.  From delivering medicines for the local pharmacy on his route to selling extra papers without his father’s knowledge, Walt developed a thriving business of his own without any help, encouragement, or formal education.  This continued throughout his few years in high school and, of course, eventually led to exemplary management of the Walt Disney Company.

 

“The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up.” – Timothy Mouse, Dumbo

Classes came second to work for Walt during his schooling years.  His exhausting work schedule left little time to study, which had a heavy impact on his grades.  Even as he worked such a demanding schedule and small_6635533755trudged through school, however, Walt always found time to indulge in his passion for drawing.  He traded his cartoons for haircuts, became the cartoonist for his school’s newspaper, and later submitted to magazines and drew for his co-workers in Paris – all learned from just a couple of brief stints in art classes.

All the work, discipline, and cartoons did very little for Walt’s grades as a child, but he grew up to build The Walt Disney Company – so it is difficult to argue against the merits of his childhood activities.  He learned how to run a business, work with colleagues, and develop a skill that would redefine animation and serve as a catalyst into a new age of cinema.

 

“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” – Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio

Walt’s success can really be attributed more to his attitude than any form of education (and perhaps even small_2486345776experience).  “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”  This was the philosophy he lived by: to achieve excellence and watch the theaters fill up as his reward.  This attitude inspired Walt to take risks (like starting a business) that sometimes caused him to fail (he had to declare bankruptcy in 1922), but then he got back up again and made Alice in Wonderland.  

Teaching yourself anything can seem like an insurmountable challenge when you get a good look at just how much there is to learn, but the real magic is in the learning, not the teaching itself.  A teacher (whether its a person, software, book, or audio recording) can only teach as well as its student can learn.  Walt is an ultimate example of a sponge learner – he soaked up his experiences so well, he never even needed a teacher to hold his hand.

 

“You just need to believe in yourself.” – Rex, Toy Storysmall_9594201177

So basically: Walt Disney went to school for 9 years, flunked most of the time, dropped out of high school, never went to college, taught himself to be a businessman and cartoonist purely by learning while doing, and became the roots of one of the most admired companies in the world.  He must have done something right.

 

“Hakuna Matata!” – Timon and Pumbaa, The Lion King

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photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/expressmonorail/3108405260/”>Express Monorail</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
 

3 Traits that Made Sherlock Holmes a Genius

ALDERNEY - 2009: shows Sherlock Holmes

Whether you think of him as the quirky young gentleman from 19th Century Britain or the high functioning sociopath with a drug problem from present day London, Sherlock Holmes’ genius is undisputed.  The question is, how did Arthur Conan Doyle develop his legendary character’s powers of deduction?  An excellent formal education?  Natural skill?  Well, natural skill certainly had a lot to do with it, but the secret ingredient is a healthy dose of autodidacticism.

 

Lots of Reading & Background Junk

Sherlock Holmes was always reading something new – whether it was in Doyle’s books, one of the several subsequent movies, or the most recent Sherlock series, Dr. Watson mentioned the stacks of papers and books all over Sherlock’s work space and apartment several times.

Naturally, with all this reading came a wealth of background knowledge.  In his most modern adaptation, Sherlock is seen conducting research and tests that only trained professionals are able to do.  Yet, Sherlock Holmes is known to have attended college only briefly and never finished his undergraduate degree.  His natural talent and ability to learn quickly opened him to information that a formal education never provided.

This extensive background knowledge is integral to Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction.  After all, to deduce something, you must be able to rule out options which is only possible if you have enough information about it to make a decision.

 

Chaotic Creativity

Anyone who has seen the most recent, highly acclaimed Sherlock series can attest to the the fact that the apartment the detective shares with Dr. Watson is not only messy, but straight up gross.  There are disgusting eyeballs in the fridge and human skulls on the mantle of the fireplace.  In one scene, one such eyeball even falls into Sherlock’s tea – which he continues to drink contemplatively.

Such chaos (except maybe a bit more hygienic) is characteristic of a number of creative geniuses.  Mark Twain always had the messiest desk that spawned some of the best loved literature of all time.  Albert Einstein was cool with a crazy workspace too, saying, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

So basically, keeping himself surrounded by chaos kept Sherlock’s mind in a chaos as well, with everything zooming around in disarray.  Often, things lined up in the right order, and the result was Arthur Conan Doyle’s infinite success.

 

Focus

It is contradicting to say in one breath that Sherlock’s mind was full of chaotic creativity, and in the next that he had an amazing level of focus. His ability to focus on certain parts of the chaos is what allowed him to zone in on the things that had lined up in the right order. Clearly focus is important.

But Sherlock Holmes’ biggest strength was not his ability to concentrate on something in particular – rather it was the organization with which he quickly refocused on detail after detail.  The infamous scene where Sherlock deduces that Watson had been in a war, for example, required him to zoom in and out with his observations very quickly (considering he deduced this after a mere glance).

Even without an extensive formal education, Sherlock Holmes was able to teach himself what the average person would require several formal degrees to learn even a fraction of.  Why?  Because he learned for the sole purpose of knowing and utilizing information rather than with the specific goal of obtaining a degree or job.

The beauty of how things work today is the sheer number of free resources available to all aspiring autodidacts.  From MOOCs to free online books to YouTube tutorials, it’s all there – along with tools like Accredible that can help focus and organize your learning process.  So do you want to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes?  Go do some reading, drive your mind to crazy chaos, and then focus and organize it.  Easy as pie.

MOOC News and Views (Week of 6/30-7/6)

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What is Team Accredible learning?

Last week the Supreme Court recently made a controversial ruling in a case concerning a number of topics. Here are some relevant MOOCs that can help you understand some of the issues at play in the case.

Blog editor Elizabeth continues her Gamification class with a wrap-up of Week 5. Learn about the “Hero’s Journey” and how it relates to teaching and the classroom.

News

Accredible recently switched the URLs of learning profiles to learning.accredible.com to highlight the importance of learning. Please update your bookmarks – while typing accredible.com will redirect to learning.accredible.com right now, it will only do so until July 16th.

NovoEd, a MOOC platform that facilitates peer collaboration, was recently featured in a Venture Beat interview. Check it out to learn more about how Stanford University is investigating education disruption.

With 6 more days of the World Cup, Coursera is continuing it’s “Coursera World Cup” competition. So far Singapore and Taiwan are in the lead. Spread the word to your friends and boost your country’s ranking!

In other Coursera news, their translation project is coming along nicely! The first million Russian words were just translated, with more being translated every day. Read more on Coursera’s blog.

edX wants to know what style of videos you prefer: the “talking head” professor, panel discussions, or on-location filming. Let them know by tweeting @edXonline or @HKUniversity with the hashtag #BeyondTalkingHead. 

FutureLearn hosted their very first company hackday. Their blog details everything that went into it, before, during and after the event.

Lifelong Learning

This week Accredible and Udacity both tackled the topic of lifelong learning on their respective blogs. Andy Brown, an instructor at Udacity, wrote about a different way to frame the “How can I get myself to pursue lifelong learning?” question. He realized that it is a quite daunting task, but can be made more manageable by reframing it as “How can I learn to love learning more?” 

Many people are now pursuing a “DIY degree” by combining MOOCs and other learning tools. Read about a few of them and some of the options available here. From mentoring to beefed-up certificates and final exams to job searching help, as well as course pathways in multiple subject areas, this is a very promising area of life-long education.

 

Happy learning!

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How to get a “Degree” on Your own Terms Online

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When you combine the fact that the cost of getting a bachelors degree has skyrocketed within the past 20 years and the easy accessibility of packaged MOOCs, the question appears: How could one create a “degree” using only MOOCs? It turns out a few people have; here are some of them and a sampling of the options available. Alyxandria is a new initiative aimed at providing competency-based peer reviews and accreditation of courses. Started by someone who decided to make his own bachelor’s because he couldn’t afford one, the project is in its infancy and it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. MBA’s are a popular degree choice, but also increasingly expensive. My DIY MBA is a blog run by someone who, after graduating and working for a while realized that he really wanted to understand the business world. Since he couldn’t afford going to college for one, he decided to craft his own, through books and other materials. The DIY Degree describes a method by which one can “test out” of courses to eventually earn a degree given by a traditional university.

Each of the three most popular MOOC providers, Udacity, Coursera and edX, provide packages of courses that provide a “degree”-like experience. Some of them even offer tutoring or more rigorous exit exams or certifications. Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.00.19 PM edX’s XSeries course sets are sets of MOOCs which upon completion grant you a special certificate indicating more in-depth knowledge.

  • Each XSeries is made up of MOOCs from the same university
  • Available in 5 subjects: Water, CS, Aerodynamics, Astrophysics, and Supply Chain Management
  • Cost: ~$50-100 per course + $75 program fee

Coursera’s Specializations are similar to XSeries’ with the addition of a final capstone project.Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.01.49 PM

  • Each specialization is made up of MOOCs from multiple universities
  • Available in 10 subjects, ranging from teacher education to CS to music
  • Cost: $29 or $49 per course + $49 capstone fee
  • Financial aid available

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.02.52 PMUdacity’s Nanodegrees will launch this fall. They’re being created with major tech companies to ensure that the subjects taught align with what is needed in the workforce.

  • Available in Front-end Engineering, Back-end Engineering, iOS Engineering and Data Analysis
  • Cost: TBD
  • Includes a dedicated coach, projects, recruitment possibilities, career resources and more!

Remember to use Accredible to document your learning in whichever “course pathway” you choose! Happy learning, teamsig-small (1)

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

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J.K. Rowling had not introduced the Wizarding World to the Wonderful World of Online Learning by the time the last installment to the Harry Potter series came out, but still, it is interesting to think about how students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would have used MOOCs.  Here are a few Harry Potter characters and how they might use MOOCs.  Check out which ones you relate to the most!

Harry Potter

Favorite Subject:  Defense Against the Dark Arts

Struggles In:  Potionslarge__5130526465

Having conjured a corporeal patronus at 13, Harry is clearly a smart kid – a bit distracted (for obvious reasons), but intelligent.  His biggest issue in the entire series is usually that he doesn’t know certain things about the Wizarding World due to his Muggle upbringing.  The best way to counter this?  Hogwarts is Here.  HIH is an online learning platform dedicated to all things magical.  If you’re muggleborn or a half-blood like Harry who grew up with muggles, this is the best way to introduce yourself to the Wizarding World.  Some would also suggest Gilderoy Lockhart’s bestsellers, but his fraudulent behavior was exposed during Harry’s second year so his sources are unreliable.

Hermione Granger

Favorite Subject:  Transfiguration

Struggles In:  Defense Against the Dark Arts

For people like Hermione, knowledge is power.  But when a certain crazy Hitler-esque dude comes knocking so he can rip his soul by killing you, practical instinct becomes essential as well.  Buried in her books, Hermione’s dueling skills are not quite up to her standards for every other subject.  She can use online learning to enroll in theory and lecture based classes, but use forums and skype to interact with her peers and get tips on how to improve her dueling skills.  MOOCs can provide Hermione with a diverse network of people with whom she can discuss her weaknesses and how to fix them.  Said network can also help set Ms. Granger back on the right path when “she needs to get her priorities straight” and a certain Ronald Weasley is not available to do so.

Ron Weasley

Favorite Subject:  Lunch

Struggles In:  Everything

Ron struggles with developing an interest in learning.  He has trouble with paying attention in pretty much all his classes, so MOOCs are perfect for him to find introductory or 101 level courses.  He can use these to develop a basic understanding of the skills he will learn in class before term begins so that he can learn the details at a quicker pace.  Some introductory psychology will likely be beneficial for Mr. Weasley as well – they may expand his emotional range (which is currently that of a teaspoon).

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Favorite Subject:  Herbology

Struggles In:  Potions

Poor Neville – a beast at potions and the abilities of a grindylow in every other subject.  Why?  Fear.  As Neville proves at the end of the series, he is no less capable than Harry.  He is, however, sheltered and scared to a fault.  Taking introductory classes like Ron would be helpful to Neville, but also using MOOC certificates and portfolios (like those at learning.accredible.com) to increase his confidence would do wonders for his performance.

Severus Snape

Favorite Subject:  Potionslarge__5110510098

Struggles In:  Unknown

Severus Snape is simply a poor communicator who can’t make friends or develop relationships with his professors, so MOOCs are perfect for him!  He can use forums to interact with his peers and fellow professors to avoid speaking to them in person.  Snape proves himself to be among the most intelligent wizards introduced by Rowling time and time again, so MOOCs can prove to be a great way for him to slowly develop social skills as well.

Draco Malfoy

Favorite Subject:  Potions

Struggles In:  Care of Magical Creatureslarge__5097284050 (1)

For Care of Magical Creatures, Draco Malfoy really just needs some tutorials on how to care for the animals and especially on how to act around them.  While traditional MOOCs certainly would hurt him, simply using YouTube to develop smaller skills would be Malfoy’s best bet at using online learning to improve his Hogwart’s experience.

Albus Dumbledore

Favorite Subject:  Transfiguration

Struggles In:  Nothinglarge__8996773123

Dumbledore doesn’t really need a MOOC since he’s good at everything…he just needs to see this video.

Tom Marvolo Riddle

Favorite Subject:  Evil
Struggles In:  Not Being a Sociopath

small_2746504545If you can relate to Tom Riddle (AKA Lord Voldemort), then you should probably see a therapist immediately before you start a genocide.  But first, visiting a few anger management MOOCs and tutorials would be a good idea.  So would finding a tutorial on how to mend a ripped up soul.  Maybe by using stem cell research?

 

 

A Trelawney prophecy the day before this article was written predicted that the vast majority of you readers would be of muggle or muggleborn origin.  As such, for you all, Hogwarts Is Here is highly recommended.  Like Harry, you can catch up on the basics of the upcoming term’s classes and learn about the history of the Wizarding World.  Get started today!

Making it Easier to Finish That MOOC

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It sounds like it would be pretty classy, telling an interviewer (or a date) that you’re studying English Literature & the Classics at Harvard.  Luckily, MOOCs allow you the luxury of saying just that (without having to pay any tuition!).

What definitely wouldn’t be so classy is saying you dropped out of the class after a week.  Of course, we all run into scheduling problems and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.  But that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dreams of becoming a modern day Shakespeare!

Try ‘Always Open’ MOOCs

You go to a MOOC platform site and sign up for a computer science class that you need to take next semester at your home university.  You are excited because binary isn’t really your thing and this class will help you prepare for the next semester to make it easier for your to follow along during lectures.  Then, your boss calls and tells you you are scheduled to for dinner service every night next week.  You know you won’t be able to handle univeristy homework, school, and your new computer science MOOC at the same time.  With a heavy heart, you put the MOOC on the backburner and end up so behind, you have to give up on the 12-week MOOC altogether.

Now, imagine that this computer science MOOC was actually an open course that could be completed at any time.  You could turn in assignments whenever you wanted, could watch any of the lectures at any time, and could take as long as you needed for each project.  In this case, you could just start the class a week later than originally planned and not be at all behind.  Guess what?  There actually are great courses like this.  One is the CS50X Intro to Computer Science course from Harvard on edX.  It is an open class that is available for a full year and can be taken at any time within that time frame.  It is a highly praised MOOC with positive reviews from alumni and critics alike, and works around your schedule.

But wait…the offer doesn’t stop there!  What if you could have short open courses that take up a small amount of time and offer a whole lot of content?

Cut it Down

Platforms like Udemy and Khan Academy offer shorter tutorial-style classes that will probably not give you an in depth education in a particular subject area, but will provide a solid introduction.  You can complete such classes in a couple days or less, making them a great choice when your schedule is too busy for a long term class commitment.  You can cut down class time without halting your learning experience completely.

Cutting down on time commitment can also simply mean taking fewer MOOCs at once and being careful not to bite off more than you can chew.  The key to is plan a solid strategy.

Strategize

When you commit to earning a college degree with a particular major, you tend to plan out which classes you want to take and the best times to take them.  Knowing this in advance helps you plan your surrounding schedule in a way that it won’t impede on study time during a particularly tough term.

Doing the same with MOOCs is a great idea.  Planning out your time in 12-15 week blocks (a la semesters) will help you figure out when to take longer business core MOOCs and shorter ‘How to Make Marketing Plans’ tutorials so that you are able to learn everything you need within the time frame you want.

Apply these strategies, and you’ll be reading Shakespearean English in no time! Next you can make yourself sound even classier by adding foreign language and culture classes to your Accredible To-Learn List. Happy  Learning!

Why Iron Man and da Vinci Would Love MOOCs

Leonardo da Vinci

Growing up, I looked up to Iron Man. A lot. Obsessively, actually.

Why? Not because he was on T.V. or in movies. Not even because he was a Superhero.

I looked up to Iron Man because he was a self made hero. He wasn’t born with superpowers or a mutation that gave him abilities, he simply used his greatest strength (sheer intelligence and creativity) to give himself what nature hadn’t and used it to help people. It was the initiative he took even when he didn’t have to tBANGKOK - OCTOBER 16: Iron Man 3 figurine display of Tony Starkhat was inspiring to me.

Alas, Iron Man is a fictional character whose characteristics are exaggerated for drama. People just aren’t that smart or that heroic. Heroes don’t need to compare to Iron Man to be great, though. They just need to be regular people who use their abilities to become influencers. Here are 5 real people who reached their levels of success because of their own initiative, inspiration, and hard work – who taught themselves to be amazing at what they did.

Rabindranath Tagore

File:Rabindranath Tagore.jpgTagore was a Nobel Laureate who was highly regarded in his field of Literature. He had some formal education in law, but left his studies repeatedly in favor of English literature and music. He independently developed his expertise in the arts and returned home to India to become one of the most lauded Indian artists in history.

 

Ernest HemingwayFile:Ernest Hemingway, Paris, 1924.jpg

Although Hemingway was enchanted by the English language throughout high school, he left for World War I  shortly after graduating. He returned a hardened soldier and never ended up going to college (but went on to also win a Nobel prize). Instead, he became a journalist and began traveling. After getting married, he ended up in Paris where he met some of the city’s finest artists and writers and took the initiative to build his skills himself with just their guidance and a mountain of books.

 

Benjamin Franklin

Born to a poor family in Massachusetts, Franklin’s parents did not have the money needed for their son’s formal education. Instead, he grew up a curious child with a wide array of interests and a determination to become successful. He funneled these as an apprentice to his brother (a printer) and later as a young entrepreneur at 15 when he the colonies’ first independent newspaper. Eventually these interests were channeled into politics, and the rest is history.

 

Frederick Douglas

Douglas was born as a slave, Fredrick Douglass by j4p4n - Former slave turned amazing abolitionist public speaker, this wonderful oratory master deserves being remembered by history!  and so formal education was out of the question. He did, however, live with tolerant owners at the age of 12 and began learning the alphabet and basic reading skills. This was as far as the social norms allowed him to go, but he continued to teach himself to read and write in secrecy. Stubborn by nature and a born leader, Douglas went on to teach fellow slaves to read and write as well. This eventually led to the abolitionist sentiments he is famous for today.

 

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci Self-portrait Outline by Merlin2525 - An Inkscape SVG Outline Bitmap Trace of Leonardo da Vinci famous self-portrait from the public domain image found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_self.jpgDa Vinci’s formal training was as a painter, having apprenticed with some of the best of the
best. With a painter’s eye, da Vinci began applying his creativity and curiosity to other subjects including anatomy, geology, botany, and even music. Not only did his independent learning quench his curiosity, but it made his art more realistic and allowed him to use his creativity outside of the canvas as an inventor.

 

 

So do you want to be like Iron Man? Or Leonardo da Vinci? Well take a good solid look at what they had in common: they were both self-taught geniuses with little formal training and a lot of curiosity, creativity, and determination.

Become a self-taught genius yourself with MOOCs and online learning. Start your To-Learn List and find all the classes that will help you turn into a superhero. Or one of the greatest artists and scientists of all time. Either one would be pretty cool.