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#1 Jan 31 2013 at 7:53 AM Rating: Good
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I recently jumped into a couple free couple classes thru Coursera.

I don't know much about the organization, but the interface is really easy to use. Registration took about 1.5 secs. The course materials have been readily available. Each class has it's own forum that is easy to use and interact with as well as a platform for meeting holding voice/video chats and organizing 'meet-up's.

I'm taking Energy 101 - it's super easy so far, but interesting and relevant for me. It's through Georgia Tech. The prof is a bit old school but knowledgeable. There are maybe 3-5 video lectures to watch each week. Each only being 10-20mins long. Each lecture has a little pop quiz to take. I'm not sure if there term papers or finals or what-not as the syllabus and course schedule are updated week by week.

That class was easy enough I decided to try another, so two nights ago I viewed the first lecture in Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering being offered through Rice University. This one is much more advanced - the prof is actually teaching to college level intelligence. I've completed one of the problem sets. It's nice as you get immediate feedback.

I have no real reason for taking these classes. Energy policy is tangentially relevant to my work, but more it's just to have a better understanding of our energy needs and options as a voting citizen of this fine country. I'm just a dummy when it comes to EE so am trying to right that wrong.

Anyone else taken any 'free' college level courses?

I'll leave you with this quote from the EE class...Information does not exist without a signal representing it.

You're all signals. I'll sink you all.

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#2 Jan 31 2013 at 9:40 AM Rating: Good
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Once I'm done with my "paid" college classes, I planned on using stuff like Coursera to keep abreast of new developments and refresh my knowledge of other stuff.

The thing is, online lectures and problem sets are only one facet of a classroom experience, and some might argue they're not even the most important part. I'm paying through the nose for tuition, but my professors are all buddies with some really big names in IT, so our guest lectures have been from guys with Pay Pal, Google, and other industry giants.
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#3 Jan 31 2013 at 9:41 AM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
Anyone else taken any 'free' college level courses?
Technically, yes.
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#4 Jan 31 2013 at 10:19 AM Rating: Good
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The thing is, online lectures and problem sets are only one facet of a classroom experience, and some might argue they're not even the most important part.


The classroom experience is worthless.
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#5 Jan 31 2013 at 10:58 AM Rating: Good
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Isn't Coursera's retainage rate something like 5% by course's end? I feel like I read that somewhere. I could see where self-motivation would be problematic.

But hey, online courses worked for Alma Smiley: tongue
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#6 Jan 31 2013 at 11:16 AM Rating: Good
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Kavekk wrote:
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The thing is, online lectures and problem sets are only one facet of a classroom experience, and some might argue they're not even the most important part.


The classroom experience is worthless.

This is the mantra repeated by those that don't want to get their *** out of bed and go to class, isn't it?

In the public policy classes I took the classroom lectures were invaluable. The profs all encouraged questions and discussion and in fact, some even required round table discussions following lectures.
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#7 Jan 31 2013 at 11:18 AM Rating: Good
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Eske Esquire wrote:
Isn't Coursera's retainage rate something like 5% by course's end? I feel like I read that somewhere. I could see where self-motivation would be problematic.

But hey, online courses worked for Alma Smiley: tongue

I can see that. There is very little in the way of course description on the website. If you want to see the syllabus you have to register.

I actually registered for a third class but after looking at the materials I decided it wasn't for me. I never bothered unregistering, but I suppose I should.
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#8 Jan 31 2013 at 11:23 AM Rating: Good
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Kavekk wrote:
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The thing is, online lectures and problem sets are only one facet of a classroom experience, and some might argue they're not even the most important part.


The classroom experience is worthless.


Part of the joy of being in a college classroom with a whip smart professor and engaged classmates is going off on a tangent for an hour and taking everyone, including the prof, out of their comfort zone. Everyone leaves a little bit more informed, including the professor. That is something you aren't going to get with a video lecture series.
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#9 Jan 31 2013 at 1:46 PM Rating: Good
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This is the mantra repeated by those that don't want to get their *** out of bed and go to class, isn't it?

In the public policy classes I took the classroom lectures were invaluable. The profs all encouraged questions and discussion and in fact, some even required round table discussions following lectures.


Maybe? I still go to mine out of a misguided sense of duty.

To clarify, I don't have a problem with 'round-table discussions' (we call them seminars) of small groups. Those are at least theoretically useful and interesting and the main problem is that most people are lazy and stupid. In a lecture of any size there's just no real capacity for meaningful discussion because there are too many people. Writing is a much more efficient and personalised way of delivering information; you can take your time with things you find difficult and skim over things you find trivial. One can read much much faster than one can orate. The material is more detailed, more ordered and more comprehensive.

Quote:
Part of the joy of being in a college classroom with a whip smart professor and engaged classmates is going off on a tangent for an hour and taking everyone, including the prof, out of their comfort zone. Everyone leaves a little bit more informed, including the professor. That is something you aren't going to get with a video lecture series.


Video lectures are ****, too. Sorry for not making that clearer, I was busy being pithy.
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#10 Jan 31 2013 at 1:53 PM Rating: Excellent
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Eh, I'm sure anyone with some college under their belt can mention classes where the in-class setting played a major role in the successful transferal of wisdom and classes where you may as well have stayed home and looked at the Powerpoint slides online.
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#11 Jan 31 2013 at 2:23 PM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
Eh, I'm sure anyone with some college under their belt can mention classes where the in-class setting played a major role in the successful transferal of wisdom and classes where you may as well have stayed home and looked at the Powerpoint slides online.

Back when I was a real college student we didn't have Power point.

I remember my Sociology 101 class - it was held in a local theater. The lectures were all filmed. I think there were upwards of 300 people in the class. TA's walked the aisles of the theater just like ushers. I actually liked it as the chairs were so much more comfortable than standard lecture hall chairs (Smiley: snore). Easy A.
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#12 Jan 31 2013 at 2:33 PM Rating: Excellent
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Well, there's no easy way to look at the damnable overhead projector sheets online so I was contemporizing versus my own experiences.
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#13 Jan 31 2013 at 2:41 PM Rating: Good
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Power Point is the greatest invention in the quest to cure insomnia.
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#14 Jan 31 2013 at 2:43 PM Rating: Good
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Power Point is the greatest invention in the quest to cure insomnia.


I used Presi, because I'm that douche. Smiley: tongue
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