Featuring Open Yale

open yale

Open Yale provides a selection of free and open intro courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Their courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.  Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, searchable transcripts of each lecture are provided.

This month we are featuring their History courses:

 

History

Which courses will you choose?  Don’t forget to add them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile!

Exploits in Education: Week 5

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Grab a tall, refreshing drink, sit back, relax and settle in for a read!  This week we are looking at leadership.  What is a leader?  What is the role of women in leadership?  These are tough topics…

Before we begin, let’s clarify a few points for the sake of transparency.  I am a woman.  I am a woman who has been in leadership roles in business, in various organizations and at home.  I can’t give you a straight answer on what a leader is, what makes a good leader or how to get more women in visible leadership roles

I hope you noticed the word “visible”.  It’s an important term and we will come back to it later on.

What is a leader?

Yikes!  This is a tough one.  What makes a good leader isn’t the same as what makes a good manager.  I can only share my personal views on this, so here goes.

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Sir Robert Baden-Powell who created the Scouting/Guiding movement that developed so many of our leaders today…

1) I don’t believe in the “Leaders are born, not created” mentality.  I think people become leaders when the situation requires it – for some, that may be daily, for others intermittently, and others still, next to never.  It’s those times we step outside of ourselves and our comfort zones to make sure that the right thing happens for the collective.

2) Charisma may come into play, but I think a sense of responsibility and fairness is more important.  An overly charismatic person comes across as slimy to me.  Confidence is important too.

3) A sense of common good and actually caring about the people around them.  Getting to know their team, their strengths and opportunities, finding ways to draw out the best in the people around them. Finding ways to develop a shared goal that creates win-win situations amongst the group. An interest in developing the people around them is key.

4) Position in a hierarchy may play a role, but isn’t the defining factor for me.  I’ve met new hires who were better able to rally the troops than the department manager.  One would hope that a manager would be a leader, but often promotions occur not because someone is a good leader or manager, but because they are good at doing a specific task.

Of course, these are just my opinions, please share yours in the comments below!

What is the role of women in leadership?

When I was a little girl, growing up in a small town on the east coast of Canada, my dream was to have a high powered executive job based in New York City or L.A. (Hey, it was the 80′s…big hair, big shoulder pads and Women’s Menswear…). I wanted the corner office with the good views, an assistant to bring me coffee and to make decisions for the multitudes.

Dynasty-Dynasty-TV-Series-014

Then I grew up. The dreams toned down a little – I no longer wanted the big shoulder pads or to live in a mega city, but I still wanted a managerial position that would lead to a corner office with views et al. So I climbed aboard that train and started the journey down the track.  Somewhere along the way, I changed trains and ended up on another track heading in a different direction.  It wasn’t the wrong direction and along the way I decided I liked this journey better, but it wasn’t taking me to the C-Suite – or at the very least not directly.

What happened?  The best thing ever.  Hands down.  Bar none.

But it wasn’t my original plan.  I wasn’t becoming the leader in business that I thought I would be.

And then it hit me.

I had become a leader.  I am the founder and CEO of a delightful start up that features 2 distinct products.  I am the CMO of this enterprise, showcasing all the reasons why these products fit into your life.  I am the CFO of this company, responsibly managing the financial resources. I am the CTO, ensuring all systems are up-to-date, working to specifications and determining innovative ways to improve anything and everything.

The product? My children.  That’s right, I became a Mom.

A Mom - the invisible leader who shapes the next generation.  I commented on this in a forum

“I was thinking along this line myself – Mothers will stand up for their children (Assertive, Confrontational), teach their children everything from morals to tying their laces to setting the table (Gurus, Motivational, Inspirational), assign jobs and provide feedback (Delegate, Manage, Evaluate), kiss every boo-boo (Strong in a crisis, able to handle any challenge that comes their way) and still do it with sensitivity (negotiate win-win terms, confidence, make you feel good about yourself). (I’ve not forgotten the ability to budget, minimize cost overruns, time manage projects, apply cost saving measures without compromising quality, etc – wanted to keep this “short”).

People often say women aren’t in leadership roles. Perhaps they should stop and consider their own mothers and then apologize for not realizing that women take on important (but slightly more invisible) leadership roles everyday.”

(By the way – I did end up getting my corner office with the great views and two assistants who brings me coffee.  My corner office might be in my dining room, but I get the best views ever of the backyard.  My assistants who bring me coffee are super cute (and I can say that without the fear of a lawsuit since they are my kids). The measurement of ones success are subjective at best and I realized that what I do at home is just as important as I what I did in business…)

In Summary

Defining leadership is tough because it is hard to separate leadership from management skills. Leadership is more about personal characteristics (I think – would love to hear your thoughts).  Visible and Invisible leadership was an interesting concept, especially in terms of Women in Leadership.  I would hate for anyone to read my bit on mothers as anti-feminist as that is not my intent.  I believe we sometimes undervalue the role of mothers in developing the leaders of the next generation – and who better to learn leadership skills from than another leader?  Quiet, behind the scenes leadership is still leadership and still valuable.

Next week we will be looking at ethics.  This is bound to be an intriguing week with many different viewpoints.  If the ACCA Fruit Stand game teaches us anything, it taught us that we could make ethical mistakes – even with the best intentions…so if we can in a inconsequential instance, what happens when it really counts???

 

 

Welcome Back Hockey! Four Must See Courses for Couch Coaches!

NHL_Winter_Classic_2008

“Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.” – Foster Hewitt, Hockey Night in Canada.

Hello hockey fans around the world!  Welcome to the 2014-2015 NHL season – if you are a  fan, you are glued to the screen!  With four games scheduled for opening night, hopefully your favourite team is playing.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

You’ve probably studied your team’s stats from last year, know the details on the key players on your team and have your favourite blogs bookmarked to prepare you for the water cooler conversations that will start tomorrow at 9AM (to be clear, the trash talk started today, opinions peppered with “facts” chats start tomorrow!).  Accredible is “lucky enough” to have four Canadians on the team – two of whom are big fans for opposing Canadian teams (Go Habs Go!).

But maybe you haven’t been converted into the “Hockey is life, the rest is just details” lifestyle.  Maybe you become a “hockey widow” from October until June.  Maybe you would like to know enough about hockey or sports in general to take part in “Couch Coaching” (The act of coaching your favourite team from the sofa while yelling at your TV; Warning: This may also include throwing the remote at the TV in frustration – the area between you and the TV needs to be a designated “No Walking Zone”).  Perhaps you would like to better understand why your spouse gets so frustrated with the sports broadcasters. Well, we are here to help!

Here are a few sports MOOCs you just might want to check out…

Sports Broadcasting

A fun, exciting inside look into the sports broadcasting industry. We explore the many aspects of sports broadcasting and teach you how you can improve. We give you the nuts and bolts of how to break into this industry and succeed! For sports fans, this course will give you an enjoyable look “behind the scenes” at the life of a sports broadcaster. You will enjoy the game more because you will truly understand what real-life sportscasting is all about!

Sports Coaching

Coaches play a central role in promoting sport participation and enhancing the performance of athletes and teams This sports coaching course teaches students how to become a coach in all sport settings. This course aims to deliver all aspects of coaching to build a coach as a whole. Whether you are a beginner local youth coach or an experienced elite coach. This course will aim to teach you everything you need to know to be a successful coach regardless of previous experience. You will develop a basic understanding of all aspects in being a coach regardless of what sport you choose.

Sports and Recreation Management

Take the first step to exploring a career in sport and recreation by gaining an understanding of the different job roles within this industry. Pick up leadership and management skills and learn how to manage risks appropriately. You will also learn to plan and deliver a simple sport and recreation session focussed on your clients’ needs.

Intro to Sports Psychology

This sport psychology course teaches students how to apply sport psychology tools on themselves or others. Everything you need for the course will be provided, including Powerpoint slides and video. Students could reasonably be expected to complete this course over 4-8 weeks if working on 1-2 topics per week. The course is structured to be undertaken sequentially. This course would suit people wanting to learn more about themselves as athletes or coaches, or to see how sport psychologists work with athletes and coaches. The course gives you information, and an opportunity to use this information on yourself or others, but does not include assessment.

For those looking for a Hockey specific MOOC, there doesn’t appear to be one…so here are a few resources for beginners or those used to IIHL rules who need to learn about the NHL.

Welcome to the best season of the year – hockey!  Hopefully, these resources will help you develop a love for the game – or a better understanding of the hockey fan in your life.  Don’t forget to update your Accredible Profile for any course you opt to take.

Exploits in Education: Week 4

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Congratulations on making it to the halfway point in the course!

This week we met David Boughey as we learned more about how large business functions, Rogue Traders and the Financial Crisis. Now, to clarify one point for any of us who grew up in the ’80s – we are learning from David Boughey not David Bowie – which to my Canadian ears sounds exactly the same…just saying (and yes, I did half wonder in a pre-coffee moment if I should be expecting eye-liner, wild hair and spandex and then I woke up…LOL).  Grab a beverage and let’s jump in…

Who Has The Biggest Business?

Time for more honesty…I started thinking about this solely based on brands and from a very North American outlook.  Walmart, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Apple were my top 4.  I wasn’t right.

And I’m glad of that.  It forces me to look at things differently.

Using the Forbes 500 list, I picked 4 of the top 18 (Apple #1, Coca-Cola #3, McDonald’s #6, and Walmart #18), but when using the UNCTAD by Foreign Assets report, I was very wrong (Apple #19, Walmart #31, Coca-Cola #90.  McDonald’s didn’t make the list).  While I recognized many of the company names, they were not companies that I talk about on a regular basis.  Six of the top 10 were petroleum explorers/refiners/distributors – other than to complain about the price of gas or to discuss the dismantling of a local refinery.

So what makes the “biggest business”?  Is it brand recognition?  Foreign Assets?  Number of employees located out of the home base country?  Global sales? Every report uses different methodology so no one answer is right.

But for me, I’ll stick with Brand Recognition!

Rogue Traders

This was a very well done video.  I actually had to just stop and listen the first time – no pencil in hand, no arguments forming in my head and really just listen. Then I watched again and took notes.

In the beginning of the video, Gary Abrahams talks about risk aversion/aversion to loss and that the way a question is worded influences our tolerances towards risks.  I suspect anyone who is “good” at scamming people (and by “good” I mean able to consistently perform and achieve his/her desired results) must have a fundamental understanding of the psychology at play and frame the scenarios in such a way as to maximize the potential gain and minimize the loss.

Add to that the reality that we (collectively) are lazy and don’t WANT to have to research the details make us likely to fall into the trap of available information and if we do any surface research, we look for what confirms our hopes. I’m not sure if it is “greed” as it is the belief we have that people will tell us the truth and not just what is in their best interest.

As I thought about it, it made more and more sense to me.  I often wonder why when playing poker, people will go all in and state they were “pot committed“.  That they “had” to take the chance to win big even though they could lose it all.   Their aversion to loss at that moment is more important than their risk aversion.  They just use their available info (their hand and the flop, maybe a River card) and jump in.

I saw the rogue trader as more of a Charlatan selling snake oil and the investors as the naive people who WANTED to believe in something so much that they failed to do their part, their responsibility in ensuring they were making smart, effective, reasonable decisions. But after finding this article, I’m left uncertain – while finding this article was not in the best interest of my arguments, I do like going beyond the “available information” and look for information that just agree with my hypothesis.

Technology, Business and Society

This week we had an assignment – to write a 300 word essay around a quote about technology, business and society.  Upon submission, we were assigned another essay to read and comment on.  I like peer assessments in online courses – I find it interesting to read and review and well as to be reviewed.

After thinking about it, I could have written it differently…but isn’t that always the way?  I thought I’d share it with you:

Jonathan Sacks once said, “Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn’t help us know what to say.”
Never has this been more true than today. Discussion forums, Twitter, blogs, instant messenger – each day there seems to be a new way to connect with people, new ways to connect with more people and build our networks, but for what? To have nothing to say?
In order to best take advantage of the communication technology available to us today, we need to put down said technology and open a book, our minds, our hearts and our mouths.
In order to have something to say, we need to have a topic to discuss, information on said topic and time to sort out our thoughts and feelings on a subject. We need to form opinions based on facts that we sometimes find while looking for something else. We need to stop worrying about having an unpopular opinion and use real facts and figures to back it up.
It takes courage to speak your mind and not the drivel that is spoon fed to us via editorials, talk radio and phone in talk shows like Nancy Grace. Whilst it is easy to jump on-board the latest thought train and agree with the message being spouted by the conductor, it is harder to point out that the train which should be travelling east, is actually travelling west.
And if they did point it out, would they use their mouth to say something or their fingers to tweet it?

In Summary

Well, I’ve shared my assignment (which will get uploaded to my Accredible profile soon!), we’ve talked about Rogue Traders, Poker, 80′s Rock Stars, and who has the biggest business and made it through the half way point!  Next week we are talking about Heroes, Villains and Leaders…now that sounds exciting!

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 5

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Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  

Angular.js:  I’ve been very interested in everything I’ve learned about the MEAN stack thus far, but with my focused interest in front-end development and how cool Angular is, it is definitely my favorite thus far.  There are just so many things that can be done with it and it makes my code dynamic without forcing me to really even think about it.

Autodidactism:  People in general learn in very different ways at very different speeds which can be frustrating at times – in fact, it was one of my lows last week.  This week, though, we switched gears a bit and had more freedom to break away from the group and learn on my own.  As anyone who reads my blog knows, I am very much an independent learner, so this was freeing for me.  I was able to slow down where I was confused and could speed through what I already knew, which resulted in a faster learning process.  I wish I had more time for this while learning Node, but am very glad to have had the opportunity with Angular; I have been learning it a lot faster and am able to use it pretty well in my projects as well.  Tip:  I also plan on putting all this stuff on my Accredible profile.  Employers definitely want to see what you have done, but if you’re new, it would also be nice to show them how you did it!

Individualized Projects:   Speaking of projects, working on my own idea and figuring out how to solve issues with the code without an instructor’s help can be frustrating, but for me it has been an amazing learning experience.  I am still working on the business card project I mentioned in last week’s update and have been incorporating Angular into it as I’ve been learning it.  As a result, the app is cooler and I’m much better at using the technology!  I figure having at least one major side project at all times will be my key to continuously learning the newest ‘hacks’ as a developer.

 

3 Lows:  

Cruise Control:  Learning and using a brand new skill has always been thrilling to me in some ways.  The process has its highs and lows, and I always end up on top when I have some new knowledge to show for it.  Unfortunately, sometimes I just fall into cruise control when I am really just practicing and the thrill disappears for a while.  This is an important part of mastering any skill, of course, but it is also a boring part.  Those side projects I’m working on still pack a pretty thrilling punch, though, so I’ve just been using that to balance things out a bit.

Editing Bootstrap:  Bootstrap provides customizable templates that make HTML and CSS much easier to use and as I have always said, it is one of my favorite development tools.  However, for someone new to programming, Bootstrap is awfully difficult to edit.  If it is in a minified file, it is pretty much impossible to find the right classes to append to the CSS file and even if it isn’t, BootStrap CSS is so big that finding the class one has been searching for is undeniably difficult.  As much as I love Bootstrap, it definitely has its own pain-in-the-neck moments.

No Time to Write:  Before I could write code, think about marketing strategy, or even use a computer properly, I was writing.  Writing everything – from nonfiction to fiction to blogs – has been not only a hobby, but also my way of learning something new.  Any time I want to learn a new concept, I write it down as a tutorial and end up teaching myself in the process.  Not having any time to do this has therefore been a bit disappointing and something I would like to get back to as soon as possible.  Needless to see, you guys will probably see a sudden flow of new blog posts after I’m done with these 9 weeks!

The Immersion:  

Living in the Bay Area:  is probably only a wise idea for a multi-millionaire.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration – but seriously, the hardest part of moving here to become a developer is trying to find a place to live after this bootcamp is over.  Apartments fly off listings literally hours after they are posted, everything of even decent quality is mind-bogglingly expensive, and I don’t have a car since I just moved here.   Solution?  I have no idea yet.

Weird Hours:  When I was in school, my average sleep schedule was 2-3 am to 7 am.  Then I jumped back to a more normal 12am to 8am when I was working as a Digital Marketing Consultant (and wasn’t studying day in and day out).  Then I decided to learn to code…and my average bedtime this week was 3:30 am.  Luckily, I know this will probably regulate when I have a job and a more regular work schedule, but the irregular sleep made me crave naps all week.  I actually made a mini-app that translates the word ‘nap’ into a whole bunch of different languages!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Programming is not easy, but you will probably find some language or framework that you really love.  Keep at it until you get there!
  • Know how you learn best and don’t be afraid to create that ideal environment for yourself.  You aren’t in grade school anymore where you have to do what the rest of your class does.
  • Document your advances!  Of course, post your projects to GitHub, but also put them on your personal website, LinkedIn profile, and on Accredible (where you can also post any supplementary MOOCs that you took and project a more well rounded view of your autodidactic education!).

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 4

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.33.55 PM

Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  

Lightbulb Moments:  I came into this bootcamp with nothing but a small amount of HTML/CSS knowledge.  I had no programming background whatsoever and although I was quick with math as a kid, my career as an adult (albeit short) mainly focused on creativity and marketing strategy.  While this means that I have to work harder and still fall behind members of the group with Engineering degrees or previous programming experience, it also means that I get to have more lightbulb moments where I just get something after spending hours trying to figure it out.  Those are definitely the best part of any learning process and I had a few of them this week, which has been fantastic.

Hack-a-thon!   We went to the Health 2.0 Code-A-Thon in downtown San Francisco this weekend.  My best contributions were mainly on the front-end with designing pages and using the Google Maps API, so I didn’t get as much of a look into the back-end as I would have liked, but the entire process was intensive and we ended up with a working app within 24 hours of coding.  Check it out on in my portfolio on my website!

New Project:  Being a fairly fresh graduate, I have spent a lot of time job hunting and networking over the past year.  Meeting people for the first time, the questions I’m generally asked is where I went to school, what I majored in, and who else I knew at the event or in the industry.  This formulaic interaction would be followed up with a business card request and a promise to follow up (which would never happen because nothing in those conversations could really make me stand out).  This process has always been irritating to me for two reasons: nothing is conveyed about my capabilities, experiences, or really anything important, and the concept of paper business cards seems inefficient.  They’re easy to loose and having too many can make them annoying to sort through.  As a solution, I’m working on an app that allows users to make an ‘electronic business card’ that lists nothing but a person’s name, contact info, and a few of their most coveted skills.  These skills will be displayed as buttons linking to some sort of proof of the skill in question.  For example, if someone states HTML as a coveted skill, they can link it to their (Accredible!) portfolio of projects that have relied heavily on HTML.  I am really excited about building this thing – not only because I think it will solve a legitimate issue that people regularly face, but also because it will be an amazing learning experience to figure out how to make it all work!

 

3 Lows:  

Time Flies:  It almost induces a feeling of panic when a person comes closer to a deadline they have set for themselves and doesn’t have their goal accomplished ahead of schedule.  Obviously, a person can’t actually go from zero experience to programming genius in a matter of 9 weeks – and that wasn’t my goal to begin with.  I just wanted to bring myself to a point where I could be considered a junior developer and had the basics I need to teach myself the rest on the the job.  Learning the basics of programming isn’t as basic as the phrase indicates, however.  It requires time, effort, and practice – so naturally, I’m working hard and (understandably) am having my moments of panic.

Learning Styles:  People come into programming course with different skill-levels and learning styles, which is why I have always believed it is so important to set realistic expectations for the outcome of the program.  What I am also learning now, though, is that it is equally essential to set realistic expectations for the learning process itself.  We generally have lectures for the majority of the day during which everyone does the same thing.  Due to varying experiences with computer science, some people simply move faster than others which sets the pace out of whack for nearly everyone.  I am personally a better independent learner anyway, so my solution has been to follow along lecture topics and then learn it on my own afterwards.  This causes more time to be eaten up by each topic, but I’m able to learn the material significantly better so the trade-off has been worth it for me.

Portfolio:  Frankly, my portfolio is not as meaty as I wanted it to be by now.  I have several projects in the works that I hope to have up and running on my website pretty soon, but they’re not quite there just yet.  Having a portfolio is a validation of the time I have spent learning, so not having a great one is disappointing.  Luckily, I have enough projects in the works to expect to have some cool stuff within the next couple of weeks.

 

The Immersion:  

Sunday Funday:  I love having Sundays to catch up and learn completely on my own.  Like I said before, I am a very independent learning.  I love working in a team on projects and pair programming, but learning the tools themselves that I need to build the products have always been better learned when its just me and my computer.  Sundays, therefore, are my ticket to Progress Wonderland!

The Cold Plague:  Everyone got sick this week!  Literally everyone.  This has been literally the only disadvantage of living with my cohort – if one person contracts something, everyone gets it.  So learning Node.js while hacking up a storm in my lungs was fun (note the sarcasm).

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Build stuff that gets you excited – it makes the learning process far less tedious when facing a tough concept.
  • Continuously reflect on your timetable and plans.  Things will take different amounts of time than you planned for and it is worth readjusting everything to make sure you still accomplish what you set out to do.
  • Try not to panic if you are at a different place and learn differently from your classmates.  Just be prepared to do whatever you need to in order to keep your progress on track – even if that means stepping away from lecture and learning on your own from time to time.

Featuring World Science U

World-Science-U-is-a-site-dedicated-to-making-science-education-open-and-accessible-to-all.

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World Science U is currently offering short courses (2-3 weeks in length), but with signs pointing to longer courses coming soon.  Using the best methods of classroom teaching and pushing them into the future, World Science U aims to make complex science understandable for all.  Check out their introduction video!

As mentioned, these courses are meant for anyone – from beginner to advanced learners.  The current courses are short and have no homework or exams but do  They provide non-technical explorations, which go beyond traditional science popularizations.  The first two courses are all about Einstein‘s Special Relativity as well as his theories on space, time and energies.  Designed for those with an interest in science – even those who don’t love math – anyone can walk away with a better understanding of

E=mc2-explication

 

Special Relativity
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Einstein’s Special Relativity upended our understanding of space time and energy. While the ideas are subtle they only require high school algebra so join this math-based introduction. For a conceptual introduction check out Space Time and Einstein.

 

Space Time and Einstein
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Join a visual and conceptual introduction to Einstein’s spectacular insights into space time and energy. For a mathematical introduction to Special Relativity check out Special Relativity.

Be sure to update your Accredible Learner’s Profile once you’ve selected your course and be sure to share your feedback on the course community page!

Coursera Courses Starting in October

Coursera Starting Soon

Once again Coursera has offered a wide array of courses.  Listed below are a sampling of the courses presented in English – with more available in other languages!  Whether you are looking for an education, business, science or social course, there is something for everyone!

 

October 1st – 4th

October 5th – 11th

October 12th – 18th

 

October 19th – 25th

 

 

October 26th – 31st

 

Whichever courses you opt to take, please remember to update them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile and to upload your supporting material as you work through the course!

If you are having trouble choosing, the Introduction to Marketing course is relevant to everyone who makes purchases – you can understand why you impulsively pick up certain items, why shampoo shelves are lined the way they are and why different colours effect your mood – among many other interesting topics (like being product or customer centric – would share more, but we can’t give the entire course away!).

Featuring MR University

MRUniversity (1)

Tyler Cowan and Alex Tabarrok, economic professors from George Mason University, launched MRUniversity to offer education that is better, cheaper and easier to access.  Courses offered consist of multiple, short videos that allow you to watch between tasks.  Have 6 minutes to spare on the bus/train/subway?  You could watch a video and still have 30 seconds to spare!

In a neat and unusual twist, some of the content is crowd-sourced!  Students are encouraged to vote for the next lot of content or to suggest new material.  Instructors are encouraged to create a flipped economics classroom – using class time to drive discussions, explanations and interactions while the videos are watched at home as “homework”. Best of all – the courses are free!

This month we will focus on two courses offered by MRUniversity.

Development Economics

 

“Why are some countries rich and others poor? This fundamental question has been on the mind of economists since Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776.  This is a full course that covers all the major issues and developments in the field of development economics. Unlike typical college courses, we will take you to the frontier of the discipline, covering recent research as well as more established material.”

 

Great Economists: Classical Economics and its Forerunners

“This course covers the history of economic thought up until the “Marginal Revolution” in the 1870s and features a video for each chapter of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.” The videos will answer important questions such as: Who were the first economic thinkers? What are the very origins of economic thought? What did earlier economists understand but has been lost to the modern world? Why is Adam Smith the greatest economist of all time? How did the economic issues of the 18th and 19th centuries shape the thoughts of the classical economists?”

There you have it – two economics courses that will keep you awake and interested this month.  Which will you sign up for?  Don’t forget to update your Learners Profile!

How to Become a Programmer in 9 Weeks: Week 3

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Recap: Follow Me from HTML Illiterate to Professional Programmer

In case you haven’t read Week 0 (about my preparation), I am currently a student at a programming bootcamp called Coding House in the San Francisco Bay Area. I finished college a few months ago, but decided my business degree wasn’t going to let me do what I really wanted: to build rather than manage. This realization and my love for startups (and California) led me to begin working toward a career in software development.

 

3 Highs:  Shortcuts Galore

Bootstrapping EVERYTHING: Bootstrap is an HTML and CSS based front-end framework that saves a ton of time when it comes to laying out a webpage or app.  I’ve been using Bootstrap a lot more this week, which has left more time to work on design aspects and back-end applications.  It is essentially the perfect way to cut out busywork!

Git Init!  Using Git from the terminal can seem unnecessarily involved when I just need to make one update to my GitHub account, but now that my projects are including dozens of files, Git makes file sharing a lot easier.  I won’t say I’m a complete pro at using it yet – merging is still a pain in the neck when my HTML file suddenly has a row of ‘>>>>’ in the head.  I do think, though, I’ll be pretty good by the end of the 9 weeks!

The Front-End:  It seems like everyone is beginning to veer toward the side the like best – front-end or back-end – at this point.  I definitely like learning about the back-end and plan on developing proficiency in the area, but I’ve always been partial to art and design and front-end development makes way for this life-long interest as well.  I’m definitely looking forward to learning more design and UX principles as well!

 

3 Lows:  The Mysterious Errors

Error!  Errors.  Every two seconds.  Literally.  Even my instructor got stuck for a few moments trying to figure out why I kept getting errors in my JavaScript.  This can be extremely irritating when I need to keep up in workshop, but debugging has been a good experience in that if I get the same error enough times, I can remember how to solve the problem myself in the future.  Still, it is pretty frustrating while its happening.

The Terrifying Terminal:  Said Errors generally occur while working in the terminal.  Typing blogs and sentences has become second nature to me over the years, especially with my inclination toward writing, but typing for programming is very different!  We use keys that are rarely used in every-day typing (like ‘ } ‘ and ‘ ` ‘ ), which means that they aren’t engrained in muscle memory yet and my fingers still get clumsy as I type them.  As a result, I make more mistakes which aren’t easily rectified in the terminal; I always have to retype the entire line.

Node is NOT for Newbies: This is actually something that I’ve read in articles often.  I won’t say that Node can’t be learned by baby programmers like myself, but some concepts are a bit harder to grasp and there is a ton of stuff to learn before being able to do the smallest things.  From my understanding, this is the main difference from a language like Ruby.  The big advantage of Node (and really MEAN stack in general), though, is that its all JavaScript.  There is no need to learn a completely different language for different functions, which is pretty powerful when it comes to putting together complex code and learning new things within the stack.

 

The Immersion:  When Sleep Sounds Better than Money

Naps:  I’ve never been the kind of person who can take a short 30-minute nap during the day.  I’m still not – if I fall asleep, I’m out for at least an hour usually.  Naps have become necessary to keep myself going during the day without burning out, though, so I’m definitely getting used to them for now.  I’d like to go back to sustaining myself during the day since I won’t exactly be able to nod off at work half way through a meeting, but for now, I’ll just take whatever amount of sleep I can get!

Dining with Developers:  Food, as usual, is fantastic at Coding House!  Sarah made these amazing street tacos with a mango salsa for lunch one day…they were absolutely delicious.  I’ve made up my mind to fill up a notebook of her recipes as thick as my coding notes before I leave here!

Post-Bootcamp:  I have always been very clear about the fact that being at this bootcamp is a way to put myself in a programming mindset that will allow me to propel myself forward in the learning process during the months following the bootcamp.  I’ve really been working toward preparing for this during the past week by noting down all the things I didn’t fully grasp but don’t have time to go back to since we are moving so quickly.  I’ve also been making a list of related technologies and methodologies that I’m seeing online or the instructors are mentioning so that I can go back to them.  My goal is to spend a year or so after the bootcamp not only working as a programmer to practice and develop my new skills, but also continue to learn on my own rigorously through online tutorials and computer science MOOCs.  Of course, learning will be a life-long process in this career, but the next year will be essential for conquering the learning curve!

 

Takeaway Advice

  • Just because something seems annoying or useless, doesn’t mean its time to give up on it.  Practice with it for a bit.  Chances are, the technology is popular for a reason and you’ll end up loving it too.
  • Don’t let yourself be overcome by errors and mistakes.  Accuracy will come with time and practice!
  • Be realistic about your learning expectations.  Learning to be a proficient programmer in 9 weeks is frankly not realistic.  However, it is within your reach to learn how to learn programming, which is immensely valuable in its own right.