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With all the grim stories that usually fill the news, it is always nice to read something about technology bringing about something cool or innovative to life. I recently read an article talking about a place online called Coursera. I frankly, had not ever heard of them before, but the concept sounded really neat. Evidently Coursera is a virtual online university offering real college level classes for free. I had to take a look and see what they were all about.
It turns out that they have partnered with a growing list of prominent universities including Duke, Princeton, and Stanford to make available their college level courses to anyone who would like to take them. Very cool! Anyone with an internet connection, can have access to a vast array of classes. In addition to courses for geeks like us in Computer Science, they also offer Biology, Business Management, Education, Law and a whole lot more. You can check out their current catalog of courses here.
Looking for reviews of the program, I found a few minor controversies, but nothing big. At one point, it looked like bureaucratic silliness was banning Minnesota residents from using it. The controversy was based on an older law, however, cooler heads eventually prevailed. There were also some outbreaks of plagiarism (odd for a free online university), but that seems to be behind them too.
What are the negatives?
1) There is no actual transferable college credits, you only receive certificates of completion.
2) It is a substantial time commitment. These are high level college courses, and many require peer review of work that is submitted.
What are the positives?
1) You will gain a real sense of accomplishment.
2) You can "try it before you buy it." If you are considering enrolling in higher education, you can test your mettle at Coursera before investing in a long term commitment or expense. The coursework here, can tell you if actual college is going to work for you or not.
3) Learn, simply for the love of learning. Almost everyone would like improve themselves a bit. Find something that you would like to know more about and simply go for it.
4) It's free!! (Can't beat that kind of value)
So what do you think? Love it or hate it, I'd like to know your opinions about it.
"Genius without education is like silver in the mine." -Benjamin Franklin