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Reflections on Coursera: 7 reasons I love it

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This post is not a review of Coursera.

My sincere appreciation to Coursera for providing me an opportunity to learn many interesting subjects and to improve the quality of my life.

These are seven reasons I love it (as of summer 2013).

1. FREE.
Coursera courses are free as of summer 2013.
Some of the best things in life are free,
for example the love of parents to their children.

2. An opportunity to practice GRATITUDE.
According to Thomas Paine, human beings tend to take things for granted.
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
It is dearness only which gives everything its value.”
By being grateful, we can live happier and more fulfilling.

3. FLEXIBILITY.
The Coursera lectures are presented in short videos which are ideal for the following people:
workers who want to improve their knowledge and skills.
breastfeeding mothers who have to attend to young babies.
commuters who have to travel far on public transports.

4. SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ENABLERS for those who cannot afford to o for schooling due to their earlier life circumstances.
A friend of mine mentions that he prefers to hire those who have completed Coursera courses* (and are able to apply what they have learned) to those who present traditional educational certifications.
He reasons that those who strive to upgrade their knowledge & skills on their own initiative, need to put efforts & discipline.

* Statement of Accomplishment can prove that one has completed a Coursera course.

Indeed, MOOCs such as Coursera have a great potential to unlock career and educational opportunities, and find new life pathways for people of all ages regardless of current social economic background.

5. an opportunity to practice perseverance, discipline, the art of prioritizing (doing first thing first), and to experience the joy of learning.

Top Ten Reasons Students Didn’t Finish MOOC:

  • Takes too Much Time
  • Assumes Too Much Knowledge
  • Too Basic
  • Lecture Fatigue
  • Poor Course Design
  • Clunky Community/Communication Tools
  • Bad Peer Review & Trolls
  • Surprised by Hidden Costs
  • Shopping Around
  • Want to Learn, Nor for Credential

6. MEET NEW PEOPLE.
Coursera offers a community of fellow students / learners hailed from worldwide.
This satisfy human beings’ need to socialize.

7. ENTERTAINING.
Some of Coursera courses that I have attended have offered a delicious treat to our senses: visual, audio, tastes, odor, and touch.
For example,
(i) from the Coursera course on child nutrition & cooking instructed by Maya Adam (Stanford University),
I have learned how to cook delicious & healthy pasta with homemade sauce.
While watching me cooking in the kitchen, my baby experience the fragrant smell of pasta,
and in the near future he will be able to taste it too.
(ii) Coursera videos feature instructors from different regions worldwide (mostly Americans as of summer 2013).
These videos also serve as an avenue to learn e.g. American English.

What’s next?
Udacity
edX

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Written by blueroselady

June 2, 2013 at 6:34 am

Apprenticeship, fatherhood and expensive college education

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Today, a salesperson approached me on my way back to home.
The friendly salesperson was promoting a union membership.
However, I just signed up online for the membership last month.
His son was sitting nearby, playing a toy car by himself.
The salesman sadly said (while looking at his son), "Nobody takes care of him, so I have to bring him here."
The weather was not that hot when I met this salesperson, but I imagined it would be tiring to sit under the hot sun if he had to do his work since this morning or even afternoon.

One may feel sorry for the boy, however if we try to reframe our perspective positively, the boy is actually doing "apprenticeship."

The father is also enjoying both an opportunity to work (hence earn an income) and to accompany his son.

I wish I could help this salesperson to earn a commission, but I can only offer my prayer quietly in my heart. I pray that he will earn sufficient to raise his family, that his son will grow up appreciating his father’s hard work.

@~@

J was sharing with me that in the near future when she is going out to be a salesperson, she is going to bring her toddler.
Her toddler has a talent to make people happy through his charming smile.
J said, "this is not a child labor, this is nurturing her child to prepare for the future competitive world".

J was concerned that her child would grow up to be a spoil brat so she wants her son to respect and value hard work (and of course smart work) and everyday people who do hard work, through apprenticeship under her.

Not every child is the same.
Indeed, every human being is unique.
Yes, you are unique.
So are your progenies.
Today education system has been inspired from the Industrial Revolution,
when efficient and relatively submissive trainees are desirable.
However, our world is evolving;
our learning and education systems must evolve too.
I strongly agree with J on 因材施教^.

^ 因材施教 means to educate someone (a learner / a student / a child) according to his / her personality, aptitude and merits.

Moreover, the constantly increasing cost of college education is worrying and driving us to find alternative avenues to develop the knowledge and skills required for employment or self-employment.
To quote Hannah Seligson of The New York Times, some employers complain that many colleges don’t teach the kinds of technical skills they want in entry-level hires.

Is it worth for parents to sacrifice their retirement funds after they worked all their sweats, tears, and even blood, to fund for their children’s education?
This was what going on in the mind of Steve Job when he quit colleges,
but how many adult children do think like him?
Sadly, there are cases where children do not care about their parents after being funded for college education.

Although apprenticeships has been offered as alternative to college, my personal belief (as of this summer of 2013) includes:

1. it is essential for our trainee / progeny / children / protege to attend colleges where they can interact, network, build long-lasting relationships with their peer and lectures.
Completing a college education has been strong social economic enablers for many people with previously disadvantage backgrounds.

2. it is also essential for our trainee to undertake apprenticeships and to train under a master, if possible the best master.
There are things that one cannot learn merely by reading, one must experience the real world.

3. It is also essential for our trainee to undertake online courses / MOOC such as Coursera, edX, Udacity. This initiative is geared toward developing one into an independent learner and thinker.
As Stephen Covey mentioned, only those who are independent (not the dependent) can be co-dependent / cooperate / collaborate to perform complex tasks / projects.

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Written by blueroselady

June 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm