Looking Back at Last Year, and a Useful, Fun Site for Short Lessons

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Always more to learn

Massive! Open! Free for all! 2013 in higher ed certainly was a year of much discussion around MOOCs; as just one example, this end-of-the-year piece from NPR looks at the “online education revolution” and questions the effectiveness of the MOOC (though it does offer some hopeful thoughts in the conclusion).

Maybe you, yourself, are intrigued by the concept of free learning online; maybe you’d like to learn something, academic or otherwise, but perhaps are not so interested in investing your time in an entire course. Enter the notable website Curious, which offers free, interactive lessons in bite-sized chunks. Its succinct and admirable mission is “to connect the world’s teachers with its lifelong learners.”

So, as a lifelong learner, you can carry out your 2014 resolutions to learn a little French and/or wilderness survival techniques, ski moguls, brush up on Excel spreadsheet skills, and ponder issues in philosophy. For some traditionally academic lessons on the site, check out the “Smarty Pants” lesson collection; you’ll also find quite a few lessons on avocations.

Image via mrg.bz / verbaska

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Good Blog to Watch if Curious about MOOCs

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Earn your stripes from the back porch

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) phenomenon continues to buzz in and around higher ed. MOOCs may seem heaven-sent for folks interested in DIY learning: by simply harnessing one’s internet connection (combined with a strong dose of motivation) one may enjoy taking college-level courses from various prestigious institutions for FREE. What’s not to love?, you may ask.

Turns out there’s a whole lot of talking about, and various degrees of love for, MOOCs: plenty of skepticism and forecasting (what does this mean for the future of education? Online education?) together with a general welcoming sentiment for what the courses are trying to do (expand knowledge and world-class teaching; make these more accessible to whomever is interested). If after browsing the news you’re still a bit confused over what, exactly, a MOOC is, though, you may find this website particularly helpful: Degree of Freedom, a first-person account of the MOOC experience. Its author, Mr. Jonathan Haber, offers thoughts on his attempt to, in his words,

“learn the equivalent of what I’d get from a liberal arts Bachelors Degree entirely through free, online resources (with a focus on the Massive Open Online Classes, or MOOCs that have been in the news lately).”

The catch: his timeline is one year (he’s taken a year off from work to do this).  Wow!  It’s an intriguing quest and a website well worth visiting.

I particularly enjoyed this post, which touches on who, seemingly, is best cut out for MOOC learning, as well as on the use of MOOCs:

http://degreeoffreedom.org/what-are-moocs-for/

The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about Mr. Haber and his blog in this article. We’ll be interested to keep watching!

Image via mrg.bz / jade

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