Upcoming Coursera Specializations

smiling Graduate woman Holding Degree with cloud background

Want a way to get certified for a group of knowledge that represents more than a single class? Then Coursera‘s specializations might be just right for you! They are sets of MOOCs which upon completion grant you a special certificate indicating more in-depth knowledge in a subject.

  • 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 plus a $49 capstone fee
  • Financial aid available

Here are the upcoming ones:

Data Science

  • 9 4-week classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics covered include the R language, regression models, cleaning data & more
  • Taught by Johns Hopkins University
  • Next session starts Sept 1
  • Cost: $490

Systems Biology

  • 5 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics taught include experimental methods & network analysis in systems biology and more
  • Taught by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Next session starts Sept 2
  • Cost: $294

Cybersecurity

  • 4 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics include software & hardware security, usable security, and more
  • Taught by University of Maryland, College Park
  • Next session starts Sept 15
  • Cost: $245

Fundamentals of Computing

  • 3 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics include Python, algorithmic thinking, and more
  • Taught by Rice University
  • Next session starts Sept 15
  • Cost: $196

 

Mobile Cloud Computing with Android

  • 3 classes and Final Capstone project
  • Topics include pattern-oriented software architectures, cloud services for Android, and more
  • Taught by Rice University
  • Next session starts Sept 26
  • Cost: $196

What do Computers, Globalization & Water Have in Common?

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They are all course topics found on edX next month! EdX has several great courses starting soon so if you are interested in Thermodynamics, Immunology or the Ideas of the 20th Century (or any previously mentioned topic!), keep reading for these and other great courses below!

Thermodynamics

July 29   (length: 12 weeks)    free

Introduction to basic concepts and applications of thermodynamics in mechanical engineering.  There will be emphasis on problem-solving. Students will need to spend significant effort on solving exercises. The course is designed for students in mechanical engineering. However, others (both engineers and scientists) are likely to find it useful. The course has also been found to be useful to teachers of thermodynamics.  A basic knowledge of high-school physics and chemistry is assumed; ability to do college calculus (differentiation, integration, partial derivatives, and exact differentials) is required.

Introduction to Linux

Aug 1     free

Develop a good working knowledge of Linux using both the graphical interface and command line, covering the major Linux distribution families.  This course explores the various tools and techniques commonly used by Linux programmers, system administrators and end users to achieve their day-to-day work in a Linux environment. It is designed for experienced computer users who have limited or no previous exposure to Linux, whether they are working in an individual or Enterprise environment.

Fundamentals of Immunology, Part 1

Aug 18   ( length: 8 weeks)      free

Learn about your body’s defences against disease: how it can identify threats and coordinate counter attacks.  When you’re sick, you may wonder, “Why me?” But the real question should be, “Why am I not sick all the time?” You might even ask, “Why does my body respond with a fever, and is it really a good idea to lower it?” This course explores immunology, how the body defends itself from constant assault by parasites and pathogens. This course will present the fundamentals of both innate and adaptive immunity, emphasizing functional interactions among cells and organs. We will cover signaling, pathogen recognition and the division of labor among myeloid, lymphoid and supporting cells. The subject matter will also supply health professionals and biomedical researchers with the basic vocabulary and concepts necessary to understand both clinical press releases and primary literature. The course materials also provide support to other immunology instructors by presenting difficult concepts in creative ways using analogies and models.    This is the first part of a two part course. Fundamentals of Immunology, Part 2 will start in October 2014 after the conclusion of Part 1.

Circuits and Electronics

Aug 25   free

Teaches the fundamentals of circuit and electronic analysis.  The course introduces engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction. Topics covered include: resistive elements and networks; independent and dependent sources; switches and MOS transistors; digital abstraction; amplifiers; energy storage elements; dynamics of first- and second-order networks; design in the time and frequency domains; and analog and digital circuits and applications. Design and lab exercises are also significant components of the course.

Age of Globalization

Aug 27   (length: 15 weeks)    free

Identify the historical and cultural systems driving globalization and changing societies around the world.  Globalization is a fascinating spectacle that can be understood as global systems of competition and connectivity. These man-made systems provide transport, communication, governance, and entertainment on a global scale. International crime networks are outgrowths of the same systems. Topics include national identity, language diversity, the global labour market, popular culture, sports and climate change.  Expects familiarity with the general subject matter, but does not expect more than a general understanding of either concepts or vocabulary. The course may expect familiarity with other undergraduate course materials.

Ideas of the Twentieth Century

Aug 27   (length: 15 weeks)  free

Learn how philosophy, art, literature, and history shaped the last century and the world today. The last century ushered in significant progress. Philosophers, scientists, artists, and poets overthrew our understanding of the physical world, of human behaviour, of thought and its limits, and of art, creativity, and beauty. Scientific progress improved the way we lived across the world. Expects familiarity with the general subject matter, but does not expect more than a general understanding of either concepts or vocabulary. The course may expect familiarity with other undergraduate course materials.

Introduction to Computer Programming, Part 1

July 29   (length: 6 weeks)    free

This 6-week course provides students with a foundation in computer programming.  Participants will get to read and understand many sample programs, and will have to write several on their own. This course deals with procedural programming, and attempts to inculcate good programming practices in a novice programmer.  Knowledge of high school mathematics is essential and adequate. Exposure to pre-calculus is desirable.

Introduction to Water and Climate

Aug 26   (length: 8 weeks)    free

The basic elements of and the relation between water and climate are highlighted and further discussed together with their mutual coherence.Water is essential for life on earth and of crucial importance for society. Also within our climate water plays a major role. The natural cycle of ocean to atmosphere, by precipitation back to earth and by rivers and aquifers to the oceans has a decisive impact on regional and global climate patterns.

Remember to add these great courses to your To Learn List!  And let us know below which great edX courses you decided to take in August!

The Smartest Disney Character: Tarzan?

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When I think of autodidactism, I automatically think of an old Sherlock Holmes’ picture with a gentleman from the 1800’s smoking a pipe at his mahogany desk in front of a fireplace, surrounded by heaps of books and parchment paper.  This is honestly a very different picture from what most autodidacts paint, but one self-learner blew this image out of the water while I was watching a Disney movie the other day.

 

Let’s Start From the Top

Yes, I am an adult.  Yes, I was watching Tarzan last weekend – its a good movie!  As I watched baby Tarzan grow into a vine-swinging, hollering ape-man, I realized (in the nerdy way that one realizes such things) that Tarzan is the ultimate autodidact – one that represents the origins of self-education.

In the Disney movie, Tarzan is found in the jungle by a female gorilla after his parents are killed by a tiger.  She adopts him as her own and raises him in the jungle with her family of gorillas.  A large part of the story focuses on Tarzan finding it difficult to belong, considering how different his human features are from his gorilla family’s.  He finds it difficult to make friends as a child because he is physically slower and weaker and he constantly makes mistakes doing things that are perfectly normal for a gorilla, but more difficult for a human.

 

Growing up

As Tarzan grows, however, his human brain kicks in and he begins to find different ways to keep up with his adopted family.  For example, he finds it difficult to match his friends’ speed while traveling on foot, so he
teaches himself to swing on vines and leap through trees to keep up (and stay ahead).  Later, while foraging for food, he uses his elephant friend’s trunk to help blow out food from narrow spaces instead of trying to fit his too-large hands into the space like the gorillas.

 

Back to the Beginning

This is probably how humans began to differentiate themselves from other primates during evolution, and so Tarzan goes all the way back to the beginning of the entire process of learning – which was autodidactism at its core.

Granted, Tarzan was probably a smarter human than the average.  Just look at his parents – they were stranded in a Jungle and built a flippin’ awesome treehouse to live in with awesome amenities.  They literally had no resources to work with!

 

 

Still, he was a baby – who grew up in a family of gorillas.  He finished off a deadly tiger using his brain when nobody else could, found ways to get food more efficiently, and figured out how to get around the jungle faster than the companions he constantly fell behind as a child.

I’d say that earns him the title of the Ultimate Disney Autodidact, wouldn’t you?

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>
 

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

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News

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

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

5 Awesome Online Learning Tools

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Whether you’re a high school student studying for a test, a college senior cramming for your last exam, or an entrepreneur taking an online class to improve your leadership skills, online learning tools can become your best friend.  Not only are they easy to use, but are also increasingly accessible and decidedly a leap into the future of education.  Here are 5 such tools to keep on your radar.

 

Anki – Powerful, Intelligent Flashcards

photo credit: ekai via photopin cc

Many of us are familiar with the beauty of online flashcards through Quizlet or StudyStack (fantastic classics that everyone should have bookmarked!), but Anki takes the undeniable efficiency of flashcards to the next level by making them ‘intelligent’.  Using spaced repetition software (SRS), Anki can predict what you already know and what you still need to learn, which lets it present only the information you still need to learn when you need to learn it.  So it pretty much organizes your brain for you – pretty cool and kind of scary (in a cool way).

If that isn’t enough, Anki is also highly customizable and controllable due to an open code and storage format.  Plus, you can download the app and study on the go (if you’re that hard core about it) or access the software online to prep from a different computer.  Conclusion:  Click on this link.  Stat.

 

Memrise – Learning, Powered by Imagination

Memrise is more of a tool to help you hone your mind and thought process than to help you study for a particular class.  Think Karate Kid: “Wax on, wax off.” Before you know it, you’ll be kicking butt on all your tests and projects (waxing rag in hand).

Memrise is the epitome of the gamification of learning.  You can learn the basics of languages, history, science, and trivia all while earning points and competing with other users.  It may not be the perfect tool to help you understand Organic Chemistry, but its definitely a solid summer tool to prepare for your upcoming class.  Conclusion: Check this out during your next study break!

 

Evernote – Remember Everything

Remembering a complex equation from your advanced calculus class, all the instructions your boss just gave you while you were drooling over your amazing chocolate cake from lunch, and the recipe for said chocolate cake can get complicated.  Evernote has your back with its family of apps that will help you stay organized.

Saving pictures, notes, screenshots, multimedia links, and documents in one place is the best way to make sure everything gets done, and Evernote makes it easy with a simple interface and myriad of features.  Conclusion:  Watch these videos. The background music sounds kind of like a Michael Buble song…and they’ll convince you to give the app a try!

 

Feedly – Read More, Know More.

mouse-306274_150Best thing about Feedly – it makes you sound smarter than you really are.  Just set up a few notifications for subject areas you want to know about and wait for Feedly to update you on the newest published material.  Next, just read, process, and voila!  You know about the new big thing before your non-Feedly-er interviewer or classmate and get to sound well connected and…well…smart.

Plus, its really easy to use.  You literally go to the website or download the app, pick a few websites and blogs, and start reading.  The only real effort you have to put in is to scan a few lines of words and process them.  Conclusion:  Unless you look into the Mirror of Erised and see nothing but yourself and your awesomeness, go here and pick a square.

 

ExamTime – Transform Your Potential

This one is the ultimate learning tool.  You can make mind maps and flashcards, take quizzes, and make notes.  The awesome part is that you can literally learn anything!  On my first visit to the homepage, the first thing I saw was a Breaking Bad quiz.  The second was a set of beastly chemistry notes.

If the founders of Quizlet, Evernote, a couple MOOC platforms, Google docs, and YouTube were locked in a room, they would probably come out pitching something like Examtime.  Conclusion: Give it a try!  Worst case scenario, you can brush up on some trivia.