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All posts by Dan Whalen,
Providence, RI (resume)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Take an econ class for free online


The oldest known use of the phrase “Industrial Revolution” appears in Jérôme-Adolphe Blanqui’s 1837 book “Histoire de l'économie politique en Europe depuis les anciens jusqu'à nos jours.”

Interesting thing is, what Blanqui called the “la révolution industrielle,” had begun around a hundred years earlier.  No one had gotten around to naming, and really talking about the change until it was WELL underway.

No one stood chatting, saying “Hey, how about that Revolution we’re going through!?”  We only realized what a huge moment that was for our species after it had already happened.

It was only after the dust had settled, after the great leap forward had been made, did human realize how far a jump they were making.

In a lot of respects, I think our world is going through the same phenomenon, this time with the Digital Revolution.  

It’s true that technology is constantly changing.  But on smaller increments of time, month-to-month, week-to-week, the changes are pretty innocuous, and hard to detect.  

The difference between this iPhone and the next one are slight.  Sometimes the additional speed is hard to notice on a anew internet connection.

But when you look back overtime, and realize it was only 6 years ago that you got your first cellphone, less than 15 when you first had an internet connection in your home, that’s when you can see really see the Revolution.

There’s no doubt in my mind that a few hundred years from now, school children will learn about the Digital Revolution (and all its Earth-shaking advances) with the same gravitas and emphasis I was taught the Industrial Revolution.  We’re living through a period of history equally as great.

But how will those future children learn about it, now there’s the million dollar question!  And it looks like the answer is developing, and that the Digital Revolution may be the driving force behind it.


Coursera

A month or so ago, I read an article online about a website called Courera, that purported to have “free online classes from top universities.”  That sounded way too good to be true, so I have to investigate.
Turns out, this site offers A TON of free online classes.  From some top universities.

Through Coursera, you can enroll in classes on history, computer science, math, logic, music, medicine – they have it all!  And it’s free.

Every week, a couple of video lectures (each around 20 or so minutes long) appear on the page for the particular class in which you are enrolled.  You take quizzes and tests online – all multiple choice, all graded automatically by the computer.  And did I mention it’s free?

New classes are starting every week, and each one runs for 2 – 3 months.

Now, of course, you don’t receive actual college credit for completing the course.  You take the class as an observer.  

But you still receive a “certificate of completion,” so, you know, that’s bragging rights at least.


How I use it

A friend of mine and I enrolled in a class together, and we're having a blast!  We watch the videos on our own time, then meet up every Thursday night to review notes, do the exercises and quizzes – and make dinner.

In the meantime, we pass ideas back and forth to each other about what we're learning and how we can use it.

Learning is a social activity – so learn with a friend!


Benefit for non-US students

Coursera gives anyone in the world the opportunity to put some US-based educational experience on your CV.  This will look great if you ever apply for jobs or school stateside!


Upcoming Econ classes

Yes folks, there is some econ classes coming up.  I will be taking them!  So wherever you are, join the Revolution and take a free online class with me!









PBS report on Coursera

Check out this PBS report to learn more about Coursera.

1 comment:

  1. I love coursera and it makes me so happy to see other people promoting it!

    Have you seen anything on coursera about journalism? I heard Poynter has journalism training but its pay to play.

    ReplyDelete