Geeking out with MOOCs

As my MITx computer science course comes to an end, I’m looking at the next three MOOCs I am planning to take:

Did you know that Stanford has online classes, too? A lot of people are becoming more familiar with Coursera and edX (as well as other platforms), but I had forgotten about Stanford. Right now they are only offering this one class, but it’s perfect for me because I have been wanting to learn more about the inner workings of databases.

Of course, I might not stick with all of these. The low barrier to entry is the best and worst part of MOOCs. It is hard to believe that we have open access to such high-quality education, but at the same time it’s so easy to give up on a course when it starts demanding more of your time. (That’s part of why I’m so proud that I finished my Python courses.) At least, with this model, I’m not afraid to give a course a try. Worst case scenario: I am introduced to a new topic that turns out to be less interesting than I thought.

My problem is that I love learning and couldn’t possible take all the classes that interest me. In fact—nerd alert!—I had to make a spreadsheet to organize them. That’s how I know that in another month there will be three more interesting classes starting. Hopefully by then I’ll know which of these three I want to continue, so I can pick up one of those courses …

P.S. A lot of people are wary of MOOCs, questioning the validity of their certificates of completion and wondering about the quality of students that come out of the courses. I guess I am as surprised by those comments as I am by the translation students I used to have who would fuss over their final grades. To me, the value is not in claiming a certificate but rather in gaining knowledge. I don’t take these courses as a piece of my formal education; I take them to learn new skills and ideas that I can apply in other parts of my life.