One of the most important and fulfilling things I’ve cherished all of my life is the gift of learning. I literally love to learn. A philosophy I live by and hope to pass on to my children and all those I meet is simply this –
“Never stop learning!”
Regardless of anything I may even be considered an expert at, I know that I can always learn more about it and actively look for more. Fewer things in life are more exciting to me than discovery and learning. In all that I love, I look for more ways to learn more. Have I stressed learning’s significance enough?
In steps Coursera. Coursera is a for-profit educational technology company offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOCC’s) funded by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University. They partner with top universities and organizations worldwide, offering courses online for anyone to take for free! The heart of the Coursera mission statement reads:
“We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities
they live in.”
As far as I’m concerned, Coursera has made that future a present reality, offering 400+ courses from universities all over the world – from Stanford University to The University of London. The course catalog itself is truly remarkable considering all courses are free – from the Arts, Engineering, Humanities, Medicine, Social Sciences, and of course (my personal favorites) a host of IT courses.
Courses are taught in modules, ranging anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks in length, with some courses continuing at later dates upon completion. And most, if not all, offer certificates upon completion. Lectures are of course done via online video. But, don’t be fooled – theses are not fly-by-night, YouTube “how-to’s”. These are actual university professors conducting actual lectures. There are quizzes, assignments, and tests. Simply put, this IS SCHOOL. FOR FREE!
The app is laid out simply, free of ads and useless clutter. In other words, exactly how I prefer apps! The courses you are enrolled in show up under “Current”, upcoming courses under “Upcoming” and courses you’ve already taken (care to guess?) under “Past”. There’s also “Search”, “Browse” “My Downloads”. as well as the ability to send feedback and an FAQ selection. Clean. Simple. To the point.
When you sign up for a course you receive a welcome from the course’s professor, along with a syllabus and any other needed course materials. You also receive notifications of assignment and test deadlines – again, this is truly school.
One word of caution though. If you are data conscious, care should be taken when viewing course videos as they are streaming. I would suggest always viewing them via WiFi only if at all possible. I personally view my course videos on my Nexus 7, partly because of the bigger screen and also because it’s WiFi only.
I can’t stress enough how important I feel education is. And in this day and age with student loans eclipsing the cost of a modest home in some cases, what the people at Coursera
have put together is truly remarkable, and a blessing beyond measure.
In fact, Coursera is beyond simply a “must have app”. It is one of the most significant apps I currently have installed.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an R Programming quiz due!