My favorite Lisa Simpson quote “Grade me…look at me…evaluate and rank me! Oh, I’m
good, good, good, and oh so smart! Grade me!” Sometimes I feel that way as an adult.
I’ve always felt most myself when I was a student. If I could just go to school forever as my job, I would. But I’m sure eventually they’d stop giving me loans, and my many obscure degrees would probably not keep me warm at night.
As a child, I even felt uncomfortable during summer break, often making up “curriculums” for myself. I’d decide to learn French, or the guitar, or tennis. Granted, they were almost always abandoned, but part of me always wants to keep expanding and learning. I still do this, coming up with plans for teaching myself things that are often abandoned, due to lack of discipline because there are no stakes more than lack of interest.
But now, I have found answer. The MOOC! Massive Open Online Courses are cropping up all over, giving people the chance to learn from great professors from amazing schools on their own time, often for free, and in their jammies. They cover a range of subjects including Programming, Biology, Economics, and Film Noir. They give me the feeling that I’m in class and a sense of responsibility to finish my assignments on time, and it really helps to structure my learning.
There are a bunch of different sites that offer these courses, which are taught with a combination of video, readings, and online discussion. Sites such as Coursera, EDx, and Canvas Network offer a ton of different .
I’m taking MITx: 14.73x The Challenges of Global Poverty, which focuses on the most effective ways to reduce poverty, and the challenges of doing so. The reading and lectures are from a real MIT course, so they are interesting and challenging. The homework and comprehension quizzes are all multiple choice, and require close reading. It makes me wish I had taken Econ.
It’s nice to come home and work for a little while on something that expands my mind, instead of shotgunning 6 episodes of It’s Always Sunny . I feel smarter already.
A great resource for finding your next MOOC is MOOC List. it has a running feed of upcoming courses.