Since we’ve lived in Germany, I’ve found myself diving deeper and deeper into the comforts of the internet. I’m very aware that I’m doing it, but it’s a necessity – my writing jobs are all completed online and, of course, the internet is the way to stay in touch with friends and family. Parts of it weird me out: realizing I’ve spent hours in front of a computer screen without talking to another person. Realizing that I get this sad little moment of gratification from “liking” something on Facebook – something I didn’t even know how to do before we moved here.
However, one of the ways I’ve managed to harness the internet for good is through Coursera, a platform that offers free classes in hundreds of subjects. It’s a good way to stave off slow brain-death in the middle of German winter. My two favorite classes so far have been “Greek and Roman Mythology” and “Computer Science 101.” I’m also currently taking “The Modern World: Global History since 1760″ and “Natural Language Processing;” I think that my math and programming skills are not up to par for the NLP class, but we’ll see how long I can keep up.
The list of courses that I’ve started and not finished is, unfortunately, much longer than the list above. Either the courses turn out to be way beyond my capabilities – sometimes it was clear from the first lecture, and sometimes it took a sad few weeks…I’m looking at you, “Statistics,” “Calculus” and a whole bunch of programming classes! At one point I also had a writing project come up that ate up all of my free time (sorry, “Intro to Mathematical Thinking”). But the great thing about the classes is that you can drop as needed, and you’re obviously not losing any money.
I’ve also really enjoyed Udacity, where I’ve been working on an Intro to Computer Science course. The layout of the site and the content of the videos is perfect for learning programming; in my opinion, it’s better than the Coursera programming courses I’ve attempted in the past.
Are any other intrepid travelers out there attempting online courses?