News & Views (Week of 8/11 – 8/17)

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News

Learn about Udacity’s Differential Equations class, and why it’s not as daunting as many make it out to be.

The Programming Languages class from Udacity is now eligible for the full course certificate and coaching option offered by the company.

One edX MOOC’s creation spanned all the way across the globe from California to China. The edX blog has the full story of how Engineering Software as a Service CS169.1x came into fruition.

edX recently participated in OSCON, the O’Reilly Open Source Convention held each year in Portland, Oregon.

Futurelearn is giving away 20 flags to students who tell them why they deserve it. Learn more on their blog.

What is Team Accredible learning?

Make music with MOOCs! Check out these courses, offered by Coursera and Open2Study, on songwriting, history of rock, music technology and world music.

Around the World in 62 Days continues with Days 43-49. Featuring many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, this week’s look includes Bahrain, South Korea and the Central African Republic.

Guardians of the Galaxy just came out, and with that comes Accredible’s critique of the auto-didacticism in the film. Read about how Star-Lord fends for himself when it comes to surviving in the mysterious world he lives in.

News & Views Roundup (Week of 7/28 – 8/6)

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News

Udacity has finished and released their course on Developing Android Apps! Check it out here! In addition, you can now access the coaching, projects and verified certificate that comes with the full Udacity experience when you take either their Intro to Parallel Programming, Intro to the Design of Everyday ThingsSoftware Debugging, or Interactive 3D Graphics classes.

The Coursera World Cup competition has finished and the top three countries were Singapore, Ireland and Australia. Way to go! Check out all the statistics from it.

edX recently had its first Indian business school partner join! Read about the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore’s partnership and plans with the platform here.

Swati, one of our writers, gives her tips in the Open2Study blog on how to use MOOCs to spice up your job if it’s not as exciting as you would like.

Self-directed Learning

The Coursera class on Learning How to Learn just started, and in honor of that class, Coursera’s blog has 10 Bad Rules of Studying. They include things like passive reading, not investigating solutions, trying to study while distracted, and many more.

If you learn on edX and would like to share your story, you can! Read and submit stories to the Tumblr blog edX Learner Stories.

Learn about the many ways to interact during your classes with your MOOC professors in this Iversity post.

What is Team Accredible learning?

Programming is a growing field with lots of demand for talent. As such, there’s no question as to why in the past few years more and more bootcamps and online courses emerged and have continued to do so! Check out our roundup of Treehouse‘s offerings. Starting with a 2 week free trial, these short, interactive courses are an excellent way to get your feet wet with programming.

Around the World in 62 Days continues with Days 36-42! Featuring 3 countries in South America, this week’s look at countries celebrating their independence isn’t one to miss.

Check out these three edX courses starting soon! Thermodynamics, Linux and Immunology are what’s in stock next month!

Learning to Code? Check Out These Awesome Treehouse Features!

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Learning programming skills has become commonplace and, in many cases, necessary for certain jobs.  Responding to this demand, efforts to teach a beginner to code have been popping up in different forms all over the world.  From free online tutorials to expensive boot camps cost up to $20,000, there are a myriad of options to choose from. One of the most popular such endeavors is a website called Team Treehouse that offers high-quality tutorials and workspaces for an affordable price (starting from $25/month).  If rave reviews about Treehouse’s Front-End Web Development track and teaching style aren’t enough, you can even try the platform for free for 2 weeks before deciding whether it is the right place to invest your $25. Considering the average web developer in the United States makes $81,670 and the industry is predicted to grow by at least 20% in the coming years, the investment is probably more than worth it. If you aren’t convinced yet to give Treehouse a try, check out these awesome features:

Tracks

There are 8 available tracks on Treehouse: Web Design, Front-End Web Development, Rails Development, iOS Development, Android Development, PHP Development, WordPress Development, and Starting a Business.  Each track teaches units of information including languages (like HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, Ajax, Ruby, etc.) and allows you to work through examples as you watch the tutorials.Treehouse Tracks           Treehouse Co-Founder Ryan Carson’s favorite feature within the Tracks is the Scheduler.

“Once you pick a Track, you can choose how long you’d like to take to complete the Track. We then calculate how much time you should spend on Treehouse every day and then help keep you on schedule”

 

WorkspacesTreehouse Workspaces

As you follow along with the videos, you can also code along in a workspaces window that allows you to preview your work at any time.  There is no downloading or desktop work necessary.

Forever Expanding Library

One of the best things about Treehouse is their ever-expanding library of tutorials.  Even if you get through all of the tracks, there is always new content being added to its library that you can use to improve your development skills whether you are a novice or expert. Just in the past few weeks, they have come out with several new tutorials, from Git Workshops to Android Animations.  Its candyland for an autodidact!

Forums and the Gamification of Learning

Many online learning platforms employ the use of gamification as an incentive to continue to learn, and Treehouse is no exception.  Users earn points and badges that lead to reward videos that tell fun stories and are great mini-breaks before getting started on the next track. Another one of Ryan’s favorite features falls into this category:

“…getting your answer marked as “Best answer” in the Forum. You get extra points!”

The forums not only provide a space for students to interact as they learn and help solve each other’s issues, they also play into the gamification aspect of Treehouse to inspire users to remain active. Treehouse GamificationSo after reading about all these great, ever-growing features, are you reading to become an awesome developer?  Sign up for your free trial here!

 

“With Treehouse and a little imagination, you can go anywhere…” – Author Unknown

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?

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>
 

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.

 

Making it Easier to Finish That MOOC

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

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

Try ‘Always Open’ MOOCs

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

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

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

Cut it Down

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

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

Strategize

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

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

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

Udacity + Google = Awesome courses & Android app!

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Today Udacity had two new announcements relating to Google: a new app and new classes.

The App

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Two months ago Udacity released an iOS app, and today they’re releasing their Android app. Other than the ability to download videos for off-line learning, everything learners have come to expect on the iOS app is available on the Android one.

The Classes

Udacity recently added a few more classes to their collection of ones developed in partnership with Google. The original ones were HTML5 Game Development and Mobile Web Development. Here are the new ones:

udacityshortWebsite Performance Optimization is a mini-class that the Accredible Blog covered last week. Learn how to make your website load quickly and efficiently, leading to happier users, customers and/or visitors. No experience is necessary other than knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 7.44.20 PMLearn how to best use Google App Engine to build applications that scale well in Developing Scalable Apps. The class will encompass a final project, building a tool similar to Meetup.com. All the frontend will be provided; your job will be to build the scalable backend. Prior experience programming and working with databases is necessary.

 

 

uxAre you a developer with rusty design chops? Then UX Design for Mobile
Developers
 is the class for you! The difference between User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) will be covered, and the class is designed to give you the most useful and applicable design techniques. There are no prerequisites for this class.

 

 

android

The last class, Developing Android Apps, is still being created, but you can see a sneak preview (Lesson 1) right now. The class will guide you to develop a cloud-connected Android app, as well as learn the principles and tools used in Android development. Prerequisites are knowledge of an object-oriented programming language.
Let us know on Twitter or Facebook which class you’re most excited about, and happy learning!

 

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MOOC News and Views Roundup (Week of 6/16-6/23)

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Welcome to the first installation on our “news and views” weekly roundup of MOOC news and happenings. On the menu today: training programs, the World Cup, and the Kindle Fire.

Training Programs

Udacity announced “nanodegrees“, which are year-long CS programs made up of Udacity courses and mentorship. What makes these unique is that the programs have been built in collaboration with technology companies, and as a result, they will recognize the resulting degrees.

Singapore has developed a training program based on a series of Data Science classes from John Hopkins University on Coursera. The specialization consists of 9 four-week courses and a Capstone Project. Meetups will be available to facilitate in-person interaction and spontaneous group learning, and a Verified certificate will be issued to anyone who completes the requirements.

New Courses

Udacity added another mini-course to its collection, bringing the total to 2: Make your own 2048 Game and Website Performance Optimization. Each consisting of 2-3 lessons, these are great courses to get started with if you’re new to programming. There are no prerequisites for the 2048 class, and for the Optimization one you only need to be able to read and write HTML, and know what CSS and Javascript are. Learn more about them here.

The World Cup has everyone in a soccer frenzy, madly cheering for their team in hopes of a win. If you need a more, shall we say, intellectual break from all the sports, head on over to the Canvas MOOC called “Mega Events: Inside the FIFA World Cup”. Taught by an urban planning professor, you can learn about the economic effects of hosting the event and every facet of the World Cup – political, historical, cultural, and more.

News

Starbucks announced a partnership with Arizona State University that will enable workers will be able to take ASU online classes for free or reduced tuition. As 70% of Starbucks employees are either current or aspiring students and 37 million Americans who start but don’t finish a degree, this program clearly has potential to help lots of students.

Coursera has released a Kindle Fire app. After seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to their iOS and Android apps, this new app includes all the standard features – browse and enroll in courses, watch and download videos, and view video subtitles, just to name a few.

What is Team Accredible learning?

Interested in startups? Then these two courses are must-take. How to Build a Startup and The Design of Everyday Things, both offered by Udacity, offer unconventional takes on designing companies. Check out engineering intern Joey’s review of them here.

The year is half-way over; how have you done on your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more? If you’re anything like me, you know you could do better but just need a little extra motivation. What better way to help accomplish your goals than by learning the science, psychology, economics, and more behind why you should be healthier. 8 MOOCs, all either recently started or self-paced, offer just that. Check out these 4 on personal health, and these 4 on global health.

Ever wanted to know (part of) the secret behind Foursquare and Khan Academy’s addictiveness? Gamification is your answer, and the OpenLearning course will teach you everything to know about it. If you’re hesitant about joining, however, our blog manager, Elizabeth, is blogging each week with the course. Check out the first week right here and let her know in the comments if you end up joining it!

New Features

Accredible has recently unveiled some new features, including video pop-up previews, customized info on course pages, and support for three more course providers. Head on over to the Course Finder to see them in action!

Learning Hacks

Battle procrastination with 3 killer tips and make MOOCs shine on your resume, and make your Accredible profile stand out.

Have a learning tip you think others might find useful? Tweet it to us and you could be featured in the next News & Views Roundup!

 

Happy Learning,

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