Yesterday was the first day of classes for me, though not at the school I am working at. I recently enrolled in classes through a free, online medium called Coursera. It’s a great concept: have university-level classes available to anyone interested and administer it for free. So no crazy tuition rates, no room and board in the dorms, and you can read and watch the materials on your own time frame.
Now, that last point could be a problem. Without the motivation to actually watch a lecture as you would with the normal environment because of no due dates or times when it is not possible to watch, it becomes easy to forget or just be lethargic. There is also the limitation that without some sort of feedback mechanism you don’t really know if you are learning.
From what I can tell, there are features in Coursera classes that fix that. There are quizzes and homework, for example. The stats class I joined, for example, wants me to program things using the R computer language (which I haven’t used before). And there is a time frame. There is also the certification that you get if you do the work assigned, so there is a goal as well. I will have to see what my experience is to discover how effective it is.
Soon I will find out if this will help me learn while I am doing my research on learning. All the more interesting to compare with the computer-based tools I am helping with as well.
If you are interested, you can still join classes that have started up. Oh, and it’s still free!