I sincerely hope that there continues to be sources of high quality course materials available without the risk and stress of payment attached so that other kids can have the opportunities I had when I was getting started.
As well I agree with you, for me I've learned recently that having a mentor and paying is demotivating for me. I like clocking hours and hours studying to learn software development on my own and pushing myself is far more motivational than having someone else adding structure and deadlines. I would have never thought that until it happened and I was like wow I'm slacking off now rather than clocking the huge hours I was doing before on my own.
Professors in universities are not primarily educators. Many are contract or research focused. Teaching is their secondary job. Online courses have instructors who are designing courses and highly invested in the course quality. I think we need some pure educators in universities, otherwise they're going to get burnt when the online courses figure out accreditation.
I got a CS degree so that I could be employed, but have come to greatly appreciate the friendships that I made in school. MBAs are sometimes sold on the basis of the networking benefits, so my perception comes from that.
I would for example consider Pluralsight to be just "Online Courses", and the price tag on Udacity's nanodegrees makes me wonder whether we can consider them to be truly open (I attended university in The Netherlands where the cost of tuition for a year is lower than the cost of doing a $200/month nanodegree at Udacity for one year).
Exactly. Immigration officials don't care how many MOOCs you have taken.
Some people will still choose the traditional 4 year college degree and the cycle of deconstruction, analysis and reconstruction that it teaches, while others will forego that for a more pragmatic approach of MOOCs and the working world. Either way should be accepted.
Now, this has nothing to do with the quality of MOOCs. Mostly, it's just to say that I think there are conflicts to be mindful of as certain people and organizations either support or not support these courses.
It seems they have dropped the verification step they used to have before completing assignments .
Coursera have initiated this change without even an announcement or any communication. I feel it is a bit disingenuous to claim the person completing the course has been verified when they have done none of that.
 Typing & PhotoID - https://learner.coursera.help/hc/en-us/articles/209818953-Se...
- Completion rate is a very poor metric to measure the 'success' of the concept. I attempted more than a dozen courses, but only completed ~4-5 of them. But that doesn't mean I didn't learn anything. For a number of courses, I got a good way through the material (75%+) but got distracted/side tracked (in one particular case, I was 90% of the way through a very challenging and interesting course when a buddy and I decided to do a last minute trip to Mexico for some camping/surfing. Needless to say, it was hard to find internet access out there). Of the courses I completed, at least two of those I had to attempt more than once. But regardless of the final outcome, I learned a ton. There were a few courses that I didn't find interesting and walked away from, but for the most part, I learned something from every course, regardless of whether I completed it or not.
- By traditional metrics, I wasn't the best student in college. There were a number of reasons for this, but a key reason was the inability to focus during lectures. I just hadn't had enough life experience to learn how to optimize my ability to pay attention in class for multiple hours a day. In high school, the class sizes were small and the teachers were engaging enough to make it easy for me. In college (big public university) there were hundreds of students in each lecture and the professors were more interested in research than they were in lectures (with a few exceptions). I now know that I need the right balance of coffee, adequate sleep, and exercise in order to be able to sit through 4+ hours of very dry lectures, but it took years of hard won experience to find that balance. MOOCs are amazing because they let you optimize the 'lecture' time to best suite your schedule and your 'optimum time of focus'. And the forums were a great, asynchronous way to share knowledge between TA's and students (as opposed to my college experience where you had 1-2 office hours per week, with a dozen+ students competing for attention). Had MOOC-like teaching material (video lectures, forums, online exercises) been available when I was in college, I have no doubt that I would have done way better.
- Considering how expensive traditional college is getting, I think a very cool and plausible alternative would be to allow students to spend a few years doing internships/apprenticeships part time, and doing nano-degrees and MOOCs part time. A company could pay for the classes, as well as a stipend/salary for the internship. I learned programming and statistics on the job (seems like it's getting more rare these days for on the job training) but being able to take a step back and take more traditional classes on Coursera helped fill in some of the knowledge gaps that had been developing over the years. I feel like mixing both practical, in demand skills and theoretical knowledge at the same time could result in a much more engaging and deep understanding of the subject matter as opposed to the traditional way of all theory in college followed by all 'hands-on' in the real world.
Anyways, a bit of rant. But it's been a while since a MOOC post has made it to the front page of HN, and it's a holiday weekend!
 https://www.coursera.org/learn/programming-languages Back when I took this, it was just a single course. Looks like they broke it up into 3 parts. Would have been nice to have that option when I took it!
I think there is value in having someone pick good ones, so you don't waste time starting things that are poorly recorded, etc.
The site up thread is good for this-
My project (https://www.findlectures.com) is built to help discover standalone lectures (conference talks, etc), which I hope helps the people who feel guilty not finishing stuff :)
Still, if they can provide further, then because they are standing on the shoulders of giants, so it's not really a competition if the gigantic amount of competing unis has any relevance.
The focus of the course is not so much on the maths but the creative process of solving problems that just happen to fall in the domain of math. I've found these same techniques to be applicable to more traditional 'creative' pursuits as well (e.g. writing music).
It's also interesting in that you get to watch and deconstruct people's thought process for how they approach challenging problems.
Cryptography I by Dan Boneh on Coursera https://www.coursera.org/learn/crypto
I actually can't recommend it to everyone because I didn't complete it and I just wasn't intelligent enough on the material to complete it. This requires one to be good with advanced maths, and I got migraine issues from this (same as with advanced maths in my youth). However it is very well explained. The problem was me, not Dan Boneh's course.
Positive Psychology by Barbara Fredrickson https://www.coursera.org/learn/positive-psychology
My significant other completed this course (I have not tried it yet), and highly recommends it. Its on my list.
Securing Democracy by J. Alex Halderman
I thought I was interested in this subject, and I was to some extend, but I was not enough interested to follow the course to the end. However the course as far as I took it was excellent.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice by Edwin Bakker
I didn't complete this course either but it was interesting and good nonetheless.
There are just a few of the courses I can recommend, and it doesn't contain the one I'm currently one because I haven't completed it yet (will likely include it once completed). There's also courses I cannot recommend (it also depends on the audience). I will resort to the positive angle though wink.
One thing I got from the courses is that it is OK to not complete a course. You can regard it as time waste which is fair enough. My goal is not to get a certificate though. That's merely a byproduct. My goal is to learn (which is a process), to satisfy my taste for knowledge. However Coursera changed its terms of usage last years and ever since I used the platform less.
The maths is fairly straightforward and the concepts are explained well.
Specifically, I take issue with NG's foreign accent. That's just me looking for a reason, but it's the second time after Agarwal on MITx (and that wanted me to purchase his book). Also, I can already record lectures and play them back at will, only I have to leave the house for that. Besides that, these courses were rather classical university courses, it seems.
My gripe is, the videos are too long and my attention span too short. The first 2 weeks I could even pass just from what I learned reading HN, so I suppose I really prefer the socratic method instead of frontal education. Many would claim I was simply lazy and they'd be right, alas also derogitory.
We know how capital views education, just get a service job and watch the horrific training videos. That's what Khan Academy is for aspiring skilled laborers.
Note that the conclusion is "the credentialling problem has to be solved". Credentials are an attempt to commodify learning. So instead of pesky B.S.'s and M.A.'s you'll get some print-at-home Happy Meal prize. No thanks.
According to The Atlantic, it would cost $62B/year to make state colleges tuition free. Last month it was revealed that the Pentagon covered up a report showing how they failed to save $125B over 5 years simply in bureaucratic waste. So while The Economist is telling us how watching videos online is a reasonable alternative to a university education, the kind of funding that could revolutionize American higher education is basically pocket change to the War-makers.
The rush to online education is just one more way Capitalism is hollowing out the United States.
Why precisely is that superior to a video of a lecture delivered by someone who's focus is teaching ?
It was very good for a MOOC, and better than my worst university classes, but I'm hesitant to say it was even as good as an average university course.
I don't think my education would have been as good entirely composed of such classes, but I'm willing to admit some of that might be preference, educational style I was raised with, etc. However, it seemed much lighter and less demanding than Id expect from an actual university ML class.
Cutting substance in favor of cutting price (or being "efficient") has been a disaster in American culture -- from food to education.
Then there's the less class focused aspects -- office hours, homework groups, meeting classmates, etc. Some of this is replicated online, bit it would take dozens of emails or forum posts to replicate 30 minutes of one-on-one discussion with a professor (or even classmate). Much of the value in my education came out of study sessions and being exposed to other people's understandings and interpretations and needing to learn to explain my own. Small study groups using online collaboration tools (eg, voip and whiteboard apps) help with that, but MOOCs don't have the same tendancy to encourage that interaction that real classes do (and I'm not sure I buy online is the same as in person -- and I say that having worked remote before).
Now, graduation rate is only one possible metric. That said, many universities do have hard data and that data generally states that classroom attendance leads to better outcomes overall. Certainly, that doesn't work for all students, but it does suggest that there still is a tangible, substantial difference between being in class and not.
In this issue of the economist they indicate that most of the people who are using MooCs are are already working and using them to increase their skills. While the people marketing MooCs may pitch it as a replacement for school, I don't think that's the reality for most people.
Consequently I would suggest thinking of the "credentials problem" as how you demonstrate a new skill to an employer - I the answer may be not be a certificate at all, e.g. maybe a portfolio site, side project, etc.
Some notable points:
1. Universities should work to define a more "premium" experience to compete with nanodegrees and the trend toward short, very modularized classes
2. Online programs have not cannabilized universities as expected (more likely people in their 30s retraining)
3. Second half is all about providing credentials, which is hard and not well solved. They list a bunch of startups, LinkedIn, etc working on it, but it's just a maze of certifications, so it's hard to know what any of them mean
There are a couple articles in this series. Other interesting points:
1. They mention a trend toward evaluating people for the ability to retrain (i.e. looking for personality traits like curiosity, empathy, ability to break tasks into parts, learn quickly).
2. Also a trend toward combining previously unrelated fields (marketing + algorithms, for instance).
3. Since the U.S. doesn't do much vocational training, they look at other countries, and say that in those places people drop out of the work force younger (i.e. they run into difficulties retraining to keep up)
4. They talk about a lot of scenarios where people are commonly left out of the workforce entirely (no path from truck driver to coder, hard for people just out of school with no experience, there are some gaps in the middle of some careers as well)
Since this is on the topic of "life long learning" - shameless plug for my project https://www.findlectures.com
* lisp algorithms
* MIT lisp algorithms
* MIT lisp Hal ableson
I'd describe this as a discovery engine for lectures - the goal is to replicate some of the experience of browsing a library for interesting books (vs. traditional search, which is more about minimizing clicks between you and an answer)
I like that idea. Thx @gary for this work, interesting in its own right, could prove ^very useful^.