September 23, 2012 by chriszumtobel
Alternative education is definitely becoming a more viable option thanks to websites like Coursera! Coursera is not without some controversy but it is hard to not be amazed by what they have managed to do so quickly: over 200 free classes from 33 of the top schools in the world and already drawing 1.35 million students from almost 200 different countries! UNBELIEVABLE… You can watch a Ted Talk on Coursera by one of the its founders here
I myself have signed up for and taken part in several classes already including: Contemporary Poetry, Finance, an Introduction to Operations Management, and Organizational Analysis. Because of Coursera, I have been able to take classes from University of Virginia, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford. These are schools that I would never have been able to afford if it weren’t for this unique opportunity and it is as easy as creating an account and choosing to sign up for any class you desire. Learning has never been so easy and affordable!
Although I do have to say, these courses require some dedication and a great deal of self control to finish… The price is amazing until it gets to be Saturday night and Wilco is in town and you bought your tickets three months ago, but then you remember you also have an essay on Emily Dickinson due at 10 PM. That’s when you say, “Ahh it was a free class anyway”, and you slowly start to watch less lectures and turn in less assignments, and you quit participating in the forums until you finally get the email, Last week of Poetry Class!, and you have missed the last nine assignments… Maybe it’s a good thing though, maybe its just a way to pick and choose the classes or majors that aren’t for you, without having to spend the money and waste away precious semesters with your fourth and fifth change of major as you try to find your direction.
Regardless of the fact that it is as easy and free to drop a class as it is to join one, I am still a huge fan of Coursera and plan on continuing to enroll (and oftentimes un-enroll) in as many classes as catch my eye… But I also plan on including in my syllabus of progress that I must enroll and finish at least 3 classes this semester!
Check out Coursera.com and let me know if you are taking or plan on taking any classes and what you think of the site!