A PERPETUALLY OBSESSIVE STUDENT…CAN’T SEEM TO CHANGE: Part 2 – MOOCS AND ME

The Following Photos have nothing to do with anything, they’re just from around my work building on Thursday—and I’m always uncomfortable when posts are photo-less. I need to get over that…

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Last week I declared some of the best days of my life to be when I registered for college classes. Well we can all return to those thrilling days of yesteryear if we so desire by simply googling something called Coursera. We can go back to school by clicking ‘enroll’ next to any of the hundreds of possibilities that appear before our greedy eyes. It’s a candy store of information/topics/ideas/stuff that inquiring minds surely want to know. My current class list includes: Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World/University of Copenhagen, Buddhism and Modern Psychology/Princeton, Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (ModPo)/University of Pennsylvania—all in progress now; Introduction to the Arctic: Climate from the University of Alberta (Canada) and Tromso University (Norway) completed and, in the future, Big History: Connecting Knowledge/Macquarie University (Sidney, Australia).

As you can see from these old college registration forms, my propensity for a little bit of everything has not changed over the years—possibly why I’m neither financially or professionally particularly successful. However I do find life very interesting—how could I not when I move between Islam and Buddhism, between poetry and the environment—and look forward to Big History which begins with the creation of the universe and covers everything that’s happened herein until this very moment?

I’ve written about MOOCs before, but they still seem to be a mystery to the public at large so here’s my additional two cents worth of promo. Coursera is my favorite purveyor of MOOCS; it is an educational technology company that connects with a wide range of some of the world’s best universities to make courses available on-line. Nearly all of the classes are free and include the online materials and all of the lectures. For about $50 you can get a certificate if you take all of the tests. There are some courses of study that do cost more and which carry a higher level certificate or credit. Check it all out. Practically everything you’ve ever wanted to know about anything is just a Google second away.

The best thing about these classes is exactly what was best about the first couple of years at university—the variety of new worlds opening up through the books, and especially through the lectures by generally stimulating, sometimes brilliant professors. I’m actually finding my on-line lecturers to arouse the same feelings as I had in those long-ago classes—admiration, awe, surprise, excitement—and always a great deal of respect for intelligent, educated and dedicated scholars.

I’ll write more about some of the classes and professors later including ModPo get-togethers with my poet friend Bob. But for now…I need to go study.

 

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