The Rise of Online Courses

The ability to watch online educational videos is not something new. There are hundreds if not thousands of channels and clips in YouTube, Vimeo, TED and others that provide valuable education videos about almost anything we desire to learn. In addition, for years, famous universities like MIT and others have been offering low-quality-non-optimized-for-online-learning recorded lectures.

In the last 2 years, the domain of online education have been shifted to something much more organized and correct. Sites like Coursera, Udacity, KhanAcademy, edX and others have created a new channel for online courses given by the best lecturers and universities in the world - for free. Up till recently those sites were providing mainly Computer Science & Math courses. However, this has changed and now we can take courses in many other areas, starting with “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior” by Dan Ariely (Mar 25th) through a history course on “The Ancient Greeks”. Some even contain translation and subtitles (edited by the community) to those who do not master the English language.

Recently, I got the impression that most students I know are taking at least one online course per semester, and some even prefer spending more time in doing homework of the online course, then the “real” homework. This raise lots of questions on how online education can come along with the “old” education systems. A more important insight that I take is that I think that there is not enough exposure for online courses outside of the campuses or the tech-community and how awesome it is. I do believe that people like to learn no matter their age or their profession, especially if it comes from great lecturers.

For summary, here are some tips for getting started with online courses and being able to persist in them, I’ll focus in taking courses from Coursera, but those notes are true for most sites:
Most courses start in specific dates (according to the academic year). Choose 5-6 courses that sounds interesting to you and watch the first lecture. Choose the course that interest you most, that you like the lecturer, that homework are feasible in your busy week and drop the other courses - most probably, you won’t have time to complete more than one course (at least in the beginning)
Consider the course as a real lecture - no phones, no distractions
Mark on your scheduler when you’re planning to see the videos, consider it as an hard constraint
Encourage a friend to take this course as well. This will give both of you more motivation on continuing the course till the end, even when things become more complicated (and they will..)
Share your progress. Do homework! :)

Edit: I was pointed to - a great place for finding online courses.


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