Do you ever get the feeling that there’s simply so much out there for a person to learn, so many things to discover, skills to acquire, worlds and thoughts to explore, and oh, so very little time? Or maybe it’s just me and my hyperactive and more-than-slightly-lunatic brain constantly yelling, “More, more, more, and all of it now!” — I’m a serial multi-tasker, after all, so much so that I can’t even read just a single book at a time (Try poly-booking — It’s fun, I tell you!).
Anyway, even months before I finished graduate school my mind had already been restless over what to take up next, where and how. I just knew I wanted to keep studying! Literature and creative writing, languages, theology, philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, environmental science, and yes, even advanced math–I wanted to squeeze it all into my puny head.
Then, and then, I came across Coursera a month ago and got introduced to the world of MOOCs. Sounds Greek to you? Here’s a quick guide:
- Coursera – a MOOC site, obviously ;-P See www.coursera.org.
- MOOC – Massive Open Online Course. Simply put, a MOOC is a higher ed- to professional-level online course usually accredited/provided by a university, or at least delivered by a group of university professors/instructors. Since its delivery (through a series of videos, downloadable reference materials, discussion forums, exams and projects) is entirely via the web, a MOOC can have thousands upon thousands of enrolled students at a time. It is also offered for free! MOOCs have become quite a phenomenon; from the US it has spread globally and is currently engaged in by Ivy League universities and community colleges alike.
See my list of study fields a couple of paragraphs back? Coursera has offerings in all of them, and more. Naturally I took the liberty of choosing, for my first course, one that simply sounded interesting — Creativity, Innovation and Change, delivered by the University of Pennsylvania. Sounds fancy, eh? I’m three weeks into the 8-week course now, and I can only say I’m so glad I went for this.
Among the other dozen or so courses I’m taking in the next months — not just through Coursera, as I’ve discovered other MOOC sites — are Climate Literacy, Søren Kierkegaard – Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity (don’t ask), Financial Markets, and The Music of the Beatles (yep, the Beatles, delivered by the University of Rochester!). It’s like finding Geektopia!
I bet the MOOC-world has something to offer you, too, whatever your interests may be. Go ahead and explore it! You’ll find links to dozens of MOOC sites here.
Enjoy learning on!