Coursera

I have recently completed my first two courses offered by Coursera and thought I would write down my thoughts about the classes.

I first heard about Coursera at the beginning of the Summer while listening to NPR on my drive either to or from work (can’t quite remember). Essentially, Coursera brings together universities from around the world and students from around the world for learning for FREE. It is done entirely online and while no credit is given, it is ideal for those who enjoy learning for the sake of new knowledge. Let me reiterate: none of the classes give you college credit of any kind. In some cases, you may receive a certificate of completion, however.

When I initially looked over the Coursera website, there were a grand total of four universities, all within the United States, offering classes. They were the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University and Princeton University. Today there are thirty-three universities from around the world offering classes. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can enroll in these classes. A few examples of the latest additions to the site: University of Edinburgh (a university that’s been around since 1583!), École Polytechnique Fédérale de LausanneHebrew University of Jerusalem and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

The two classes I signed up for and completed were:

Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World taught by Professor Eric Rabkin. While I admit that I didn’t enjoy all of the reading required for the course, I do now feel more well-read than before enrolling in the course. Some of the reading:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • selected works of Edgar Allen Poe
  • Grimm’s Fairytales
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Martian Chronicles

Internet History, Technology, and Security taught by Professor Charles Severance also known as Dr. Chuck. While I have been a user of the world wide web and internet since my senior year of college in the Fall of 1994, it was nice to see how everything that I was experience fell into the over all scheme of things. The history part was fascinating to me, as usual, and Dr. Chuck made everything entertaining and there was no pre-requisite of computer coding or programming or anything like that. Just a working knowledge of the internet – which most people have as daily users.

Over-all I would have to say that my classes were very enjoyable and I have not only signed up for additional classes (many not starting til after the first of the year), but I sing Coursera’s praises to anyone. The only thing I didn’t like, and in the grand scheme of things it’s rather small, is the forum style for the classes. Of course I did suck it up and use the forum when I wanted to bitch and moan about one of the books in the SciFi/Fantasy class. LOL

I look forward to the new classes, the first of which should start in January.

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