Ultimate Autodidacts: Einstein to Moffat


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


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









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>

MOOC News and Views (Week of 7/7-7/13)



FutureLearn is looking for people who use their smartphone or tablet to learn.

Coursera’s blog features the story of an entrepreneur who used Coursera classes to help her expand her business. Read it here.

Remember that until July 16th, all accredible.com URLs will redirect to learning.accredible.com. We’re adding some new features, which is why we’re changing the URLs. Just make sure to you’ve changed the bookmark in your browser to learning.accredible.com by the 16th!


What is Team Accredible learning?

These aren’t MOOCs, but we’ve started a new series called “Around the World in 62 Days” which documents countries’ declarations of independence and other national holidays. Check out week 1 and 2 and stay tuned for next weeks!

The last week of Adventures in Gamification has come to a close, and Elizabeth has the final hurrah write-up of it here! Don’t worry if you haven’t started it since it’s self-paced so you can start anytime.

New Courses

Here are some of the upcoming NovoEd courses. NovoEd offers MOOCs with a twist – collaboration and social learning is deeply embedded in their platform. Mobile health, tech entrepreneurship and scaling businesses are just some of the things you can learn about with these interactive, fascinating classes.

Learning Tips

There are lots of free online resources to make studying and organizing your studying a little easier. Whether you want to be able to find articles about a subject you’re interested in (Feedly), have your notes accessible from anywhere (Evernote), create and use flashcards (Anki), or more, here are a few apps to get started with. Let us know what tools you use when studying by tweeting @accredible!

Take a few tips from Sherlock Holmes to become a better learner. From focusing to reading to “chaotic creativity”, who knew everyone’s favorite detective had the habits of a lifelong learner?

The second in a series on demystifying resume buzzwords is back, this time unraveling the term “motivation.” In addition, check out last week’s, “innovation.”

One of Udacity’s Course Developers has a blog post on Udacity’s blog with his tips for lifelong learning.


Happy learning!

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Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2

Welcome Back!

This week marks the last week of Games in Education – Gamification on OpenLearning.  I hope you’ve had as much fun on your Adventure in Gamification as I’ve had – starting from the Introduction, strategic uses of games,  how to apply games in education, using scenarios as levellers, to the Hero’s Journey.  We’ve covered a lot of topics, played a few games and had a bit of fun along the way! If you’ve followed along but not yet signed up for the course, you can start it at anytime.  Add it to your To Learn list or start it today!!

The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia



When using games one thing is really important – selling it in the first few minutes.  You really have just a couple of minutes to convince your audience that you have a great product that is of great benefit for them, that will improve their lives exponentially, regardless of their issues, place in life, financial situation, grades in school, etc.

You must become one with your inner Charlatan.

Picture yourself standing on stage or on a wooden crate, shouting out to all of the passing people about this great opportunity you have for them!


Attention! Attention!  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages…step right up and prepare to be Wowed, Amazed and Dumbstruck by the sheer Brrrr-ill-iance and Geee-ni-us of this deceptively simple ed-u-cational deeeee-vice…the one…the only….the Gamified, Achievable, Measurable, Educational Device – or GAME for short!


Why your inner charlatan?

Simply because you want to take advantage of the Placebo Effect…AKA taking advantage of new “treatments” or “tools” while they still work.  The belief by an individual that something is going to work to make them learn or understand more, to become smarter, to get better grades is half the battle!



Tailor the Game to the Learner



As an educator or trainer, you probably have tools that get the job done.  Worksheets, quizzes, projects, exams.

What if you could tailor a game to your learner? What if you had a test that could tell you about your students’ personality traits so you could create activities that would work with their strengths and develop their opportunities?  Using Holland‘s RIASEC testing you could do just that…

But is that practical?  Perhaps not so much today on an individual basis, but in a classroom setting, you could determine overall opportunities and include opportunities to develop those skills within the grand scheme.


Gamification_techniques_5Custom Games

So what does this all mean?

It means start with what you have.  Keep it simple. Add layers as necessary.

A meta-game has it’s place, but when a gamelet will do, why bring out the big guns? Remember, we want to use the tools while they still work.  We don’t want to misuse games in the same manner in which penicillin was misprescribed.  Using a meta-game when a riddle will do is the same as using penicillin for the common cold. At best, it’s useless, at worst, it reduces the overall effectiveness when things really count.

In Summary

This week covered a lot!  To pull together a few key points:

  • Be a Charlatan! Sell the game well for the best buy in
  • Customize to the group
  • Size matters!  Use the smallest, simplest tool to get the job done!
We’ve now finished the course – but we will come back next week to wrap it all up!  We will do a final review of key points, the tools available on OpenLearning and show you how to tie a pretty bow around it all by posting your work to your Accredible profile!  


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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.



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.

Around the World in 62 Days: Day 6 – 14

Around the World in 62 Days

There are many celebrations happening around the world this week!  Check out these national holidays or independence days! You are bound to learn a lot!

July 6


Lithuania – King Mindaugas Day200px-Flag_of_Lithuania.svg

Also known as Statehood Day.  Celebrated Officially since 1991, this day commemorates the coronation of the only King of Lithuania, King Mindaugas.  Although the exact date of the coronation is unknown, this date was chosen based on the hypothesis of Edvardas Gudavicius in 1989.


Comoros – Independence from France in 1975 200px-Flag_of_the_Comoros.svg

A small island nation off the coast of Africa (with an estimated population of 798,000) has the unique distinction of being the only state to be a member of the African Union, Francophonie, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League and the Indian Ocean Commission. The country has experienced several Coup D’etats since independence and this has kept about half of the population below the international poverty line.  The island of Mayotte is geographically a part of this archipelago, but is still administered by France.


Malawi – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1964Flag_of_Malawi.svg

Colonized by the British in 1891, Nyasaland joined the Central African Federation (CAF) and gained partial independence in 1953.  In 1964 (after the dissolution of the CAF), Nyasaland gained full independence and changed its name to Malawi.  Since 1993, Malawi has operated as a multi-party democracy and 2014 marks its next elections.



July 7



Cayman Islands – Constitution Day (First Monday of July) Flag_of_the_Cayman_Islands.svg

The Cayman Islands, located in the western Caribbean Sea, are a British Overseas Territory. They (along with Jamaica with whom they were combined) have been formally under British control since 1670 and were governed under Jamaica until 1962 when they became a separate Crown Colony.  The Cayman Islands have historically been a tax exempt destination as well as being a major world offshore financial centre.  Constitution Day has been celebrated since July 4th, 1959 when the first written constitution came into effect.  This year, Constitution Day will be celebrated with a “spectacular fireworks display”.


Solomon Islands – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1978200px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg

An archipelago in Oceania.  Inhabited for thousands of years, it was finally discovered by Europeans in 1568 when Álvaro de Mendaña found it.  Named for the biblical King Solomon.  In 1893, the United Kingdom had established a protectorate over the area.  Self government was achieved in 1976 and independence in 1978.  Part of a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Queen of Solomon Islands.



Copy of July 9



ArgentinaIndependence from the Spanish Empire in 1816 200px-Flag_of_Argentina.svg

Colonized by Spain in 1512, a fight for independence was fought from 1810-1818 with independence declared in 1816.  Following the War of Independence, Argentina fell into a long civil war.  Eventually the country was re-organized and by the early 20th century, was ranked as the 7th wealthiest developed nation.  In the mid 1900s, Argentina fell into political instability and declined into an underdeveloped nation.


Palau – Constitution Day200px-Flag_of_Palau.svg

Palau established the world’s first Nuclear Free constitution in 1981.  This meant that no nuclear weapons could be used, stored or disposed of without first being approved by a 3/4 majority in a referendum. In 1994 “nuclear free” was dropped in order to become an associated state to the U.S. – a necessary move as this country of approximately 21,000 people does not have a standing military and rely on the United States for all defence.


South Sudan – Independence from Sudan in 2011Flag_of_South_Sudan.svg

South Sudan became an independent state in 2011 after an overwhelming majority voted for separation from Sudan.  Since independence, South Sudan has become a UN member state, a member of the African Union and signed the Geneva Convention.  Currently involved in a civil war (2013 – current), leaving some 800,000 South Sudanese displaced.



July 10

Bahamas – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1973Flag_of_the_Bahamas.svg

Made up of 700 islands, cays and inlets and a population of 319,000, the Bahamas became a British colony in 1718.  They became an independent Commonwealth Realm in 1973.  Queen Elizabeth II still heads this parliamentary monarchy.




July 11


MongoliaNaadam Holiday (Declaration of Independence from China, 1921) Flag_of_Mongolia.svg

Bolshevik Russia supported the establishment of a communist government and army in Mongolia.  With help from Russian troops, Mongolia was able to declare independence from China on July 11, 1921.  The events leading up to independence became the basis of close ties with Russia, which lasted for several decades.  Naadam is the main National Festival (it has been organized for centuries) but now honours the anniversary of independence. Activities consist of archery, horse racing and wrestling.




São Tomé & Príncipe – Independence from Portugal in 1975200px-Flag_of_Sao_Tome_and_Principe.svg

An island nation in the Gulf of Guinea (off the western equatorial coast in Africa) is the smallest Portuguese speaking country and the second smallest African country.  The 2 islands were discovered in 1471 and 1472, respectfully and the pair were settled in 1493 by the Portuguese.  July 12, 1975 brought independence to the islands. In 1990 they embraced democratic reform and legalized opposition parties, which led to nonviolent, free and transparent elections in 1991.

Kiribati – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1979200px-Flag_of_Kiribati.svg

In 1892, the Gilbert Islands agreed to become a British Protectorate along with other islands.  In 1971, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands gained self rule as a combined nation and separated in 1975.  The Gilbert Islands became independent in 1979 and became known as Kiribati.

North IrelandBattle of Boyne Day200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg

Fought in 1690 between the Catholic James VII & II and the Protestant William III & II, rival claimants to the English, Scottish and Irish thrones.  The battle took place on what was July 1, 1690 under the Julian Calendar, but is now known as July 11th.  The decisive Battle of Aughrim was fought one year later on July 12th, which is not the commemoration day of the battle.  The win by William kept James from regaining the crown.  The battle is also a key part of the Orange Order’s folklore.




July 13


July 13
Montenegro – Recognized as Independent at Congress of Berlin in 1878200px-Flag_of_Montenegro.svg

Located in South Eastern Europe.  The Treaty of Berlin formally recognized the independence of the de facto sovereign principalities of Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.  Proclaimed as a Kingdom in 1910 by Prince Nicholas (King Nicholas I) who had been ruling since 1860.  Since then they have joined Yugoslavia, become independent and are now a parliamentary republic.  The history of Montenegro is fascinating, complex and intriguing – well worth a read.  Bet you can’t read just one Wikipedia page!!!




July  14


FranceBastille Day and Fête de la Fédération
Flag_of_France.svgMayotteBastille Day
RéunionBastille Day
GuadeloupeBastille Day




MartiniqueBastille Day 200px-Flag_of_Martinique.svg





French GuianaBastille Day200px-Flag_of_French_Guiana.svg





New CaledoniaBastille DayFlag_of_New_Caledonia.svg




St Pierre et Miquelon  - Bastille Day 200px-Flag_of_Saint-Pierre_and_Miquelon.svg




Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 by the people of Paris after Jacques Necker was dismissed from the National Constituent Assembly on July 11 by Louis XVI.  This battle led to the abolition of feudalism in August 1789.  Starting on July 14, 1790, the French have been celebrating Fête de la Fédération.  A militay parade has been held each year since 1880 on the morning of July 14th.  It has become the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.

Many former colonies still follow France‘s celebrations to capture and illustrate the French side of their interwoven histories.


ryanlerch_Green_-_Query_IconDid you know??

While busy celebrating Canada Day, I missed a few other special events – yikes!  Here are the ones that I know I missed!








July 1


Hong KongTransfer of Sovereignty to PRC in 1997 Flag_of_Hong_Kong_(1959-1997).svg

Known internationally as “the Handover, July 1, 1997 marked the transfer of sovereignty to the People’s Republic of China.  Although Hong Kong Island and Kowloon had been ceded to the United Kingdom in perpetuity, the “new territories” only had a 99 year lease.  The three territories grew and developed together and by 1997 it was impractical to split them up as the new territories were important to Hong Kong’s economic development.



Madeira – Autonomy from Portugal

A Portuguese Archipelago in the North Atlantic that was claimed in 1419 and settled in 1420, it has since become a popular year-round resort.  Following the democratic revolution of 1974, Portugal granted political autonomy on July 1, 1976 which is now known as Madeira Day.

(British) Virgin IslandsFlag_of_the_British_Virgin_Islands.svg

Commonly referred to as the British Virgin Islands (to distinguish them from the American or Spanish Virgin Islands) is a British Overseas Territory.  They became autonomous on July 1, 1967.



July 2

Part of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsCuraço was granted autonomy to a certain degree with its own parliament, although they are still dependent on the Netherlands for matters like foreign policy and defence.  The first elected island council was brought in on July 2, 1954.  On July 2, 1984, the council inaugurated the National Flag and National Anthem.



July 5 (1)


Isle of ManTynwald Day Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Man.svg

The National Day of the Isle of Man.  On this day the legislature (Tynwald) meet at St John’s – partly in the Royal Chapel of St. John and partly in the open air on Tynwald.  All bills that have Royal Assent are promulgated on Tynwald Day.  This event was first recorded in 1417.

If you’ve had fun learning about these countries this week, you might be interested in learning more through these courses:

Where we’ve been so far…

places weve been so far day 1 - 14

​Join us next Tuesday when we cover Days Fifteen to Twenty One in our Around the World in 62 Days series.  We will visit Slovakia, Columbia and Belgium…just to name a few! Let’s see how many more stamps we can add to our virtual passport together!

Upcoming NovoED Courses

novoed part 2
NovoED is the social online learning environment.  They are structured around a “Learn, collaborate and innovate” system in which you are organized into groups with whom you work on projects for the run of the course.  By doing this, you network with a group of individuals and you actually have a chance to get to know them.  So they offer all of the typical benefits of a regular MOOC with the added benefit of teamwork, problem solving, creativity and networking!


Some upcoming courses include:

Technology Entrepreneurship

Course Date: 14 July 2014 to 24 August 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

This course discussed the process technology entrepreneurs use to start companies which involves taking a technology idea, gathering resources such as talent and capital, marketing the idea, and managing rapid growth.

Estimated Workload: 10 hours per week.

 Mobile Health Without Borders


Course Date: 27 July 2014 to 31 August 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

This course focuses on cost-effective healthcare solutions using ever-expanding mobile technologies. The addressed themes are: 1) Global Health Challenges. 2) Mobile Health Opportunities. 3) Entrepreneurship in Healthcare.  This course will function like a conference, but take place over weeks instead of 2 days.  

Check out this great example of group work.

Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up

Course Date: 08 September 2014 to 12 October 2014 (4 weeks)

Price: free

In this five-week course, founders and managers learn to uncover and build on pockets of exemplary performance when scaling their venture.

Estimated Workload: Expect to spend between 4 – 6 hours per week on the course over the five-week period.

DQ 101: Introduction to Decision Quality


Course Date: 09 October 2014 to 15 November 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

This five-week online course covered the concepts of Decision Quality, introduced common decision traps, and fostered the basic awareness of skills and tools for reaching Decision Quality in business settings.

Estimated Workload: Expect to spend between 2-4 hours per week on the course over the five-week period.

Here is a sample of group work from this program!   

NovoED has some very exciting courses coming up over the next few months – and even more coming up soon after!  If you like MOOCs but feel you are missing the “human connection”, try NovoED!  The team group work might be just the thing for you.  Let us know which courses you decided to take in the comments below – and remember to add the courses to your Accredible To Learn list for course reminders.

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


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.


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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MOOCs for Current Events: Hobby Lobby

hobby lobby

If you’ve followed American politics lately, you may know that the Supreme Court recently made a ruling in a case that caused lots of controversy. You can read more about the case here, but it involved recognizing certain companies as having religious beliefs (in this case, arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby not being required to include female contraceptives as part of their employees health care benefits because the company was against it for religious reasons).

Regardless of your viewpoints on the case, if you want to learn more about the Supreme Court, women’s rights, or other issues relating to them, we have you covered with the MOOCs you need to take!

The Supreme Court

Dive into the US’s highest court with Coursera’s Introduction to Key Constitutional Concepts and Supreme Court Cases, starting in September. Combining historical cases with modern ones (all the way up to healthcare reform), as well as a look at the Constitution, amendments and 3 branches, this class provides an in-depth overview.

Women’s Rights

Women’s rights is central to the Hobby Lobby case. Stanford’s online class International Women’s Health and Human Rights class starts on July 10th and examines the issue from infancy to old age. Focusing on the issues that can mean life or death to women depending on societal, economic or political reasons, this class strikes right at the issue.

Abortion was one of the contested issues in this case. Learn more about it in Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications, offered by Coursera. Designed to fill in the gaps left by mainstream education about abortion, this class brings in educators from multiple institutions. Starting in October, this class is also eligible for a Verified Certificate.

Learn about reproductive health in Coursera’s Global Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights class. Topics covered include youth sexuality, fertility and contraception, STDs and violence in reproductive contexts. This class starts in 2015.


Happy learning!

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