Sunday, August 18, 2013

On-line courses - the new batch

After a positive experience with MOOCs (edX and Coursera) last year, I am having a stab at another run of modules:

Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health - University of Pittsburgh
A Brief History of Humankind - Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Social Psychology - Weslyan University

The nutrition course has just has a few weeks to run and was pitched just right for the beginner. The delivery has proven a little dry, however it will serve nicely as a foundation on which to base one's nutritional knowledge. Also, the course materials and discussion forum for this course are extremely helpful. The Social Psychology course is absolutely first rate but is very time consuming...this one will be a challenge to see through but it would most definitely be a worthwhile endeavour. Also, I've only just started to work through the Brief History of Mankind and Dr. Yuval Noah Harari is a really joy to listen to as he sits in his armchair delivering lively lectures with a slight hint of Borat about his accent. I'd love to also see this through but the reality of time availability means something will likely have to drop. Indeed, the time requirement for many MOOC modules is such that many people initially sign-up for each course but only relatively few hardy souls see them through. For example, when the widely respected Dan Ariely ran a thorough course on Behavioural Economics, over 140,000 students signed up to the module but less than half actually watched a video and just 6,000 sticklers saw it through to the end. I was one of those who eagerly signed up only to find that life was proving too busy. Nevertheless, 6,000 people is a hell of a lot of people compared to the headcount of a physical lecture series delivered at a university, and this number will grow over time.

Later this year I would like to complete courses in Model Thinking, How to Reason and Argue and  Microeconomics, but the shortest time requirement of one of these courses is 5 hours a week and longest is 10 hours per week so this is more of a wish list than anything else .... bah, not enough hours in the day, what!

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