With two kids in college I'm offered many, many opportunities to recall my own years in school. One of my biggest regrets about how I approached my education is that I saw it as something I needed to do in order to not disappoint my parents, to set myself up for a decent job/career, and to have lots of fun partying in the process. I didn't approach it the way I would now – as an opportunity to learn about interesting topics from people who have spent their lives becoming experts on those topics.
Luckily for me there's a relatively new development in the world of higher education – massive open online courses (MOOCs). From a story in the Wall Street Journal:
Professor Jeremy Adelman has taught a world-history class at Princeton University for several years, but as he led about 60 students through 700 years of history on the ivy-covered campus this past fall, one thing was different: Another 89,000 students tuned into his lectures free of charge via Coursera, an online platform.
Those kinds of numbers, and their potential for remaking higher education, have generated plenty of excitement about massive open online courses—dubbed MOOCs. They've also lured venture investors and universities, who have put millions of dollars into companies like Udacity, Coursera and edX, which partner with schools or instructors to offer these courses.
So here I am in my middle years, 25 years removed from my last fling with higher education, and I have the change to learn at the (digital) knees of some of the finest professors from the finest universities in the land. I'm sticking my toe in the water by taking the "Introduction to Statistics" course offered by University of California-Berkeley on edX. Why stats? It and Finance are the two courses I actively avoided taking in school because they were "hard" and I've regretted it on oh-so-many occassions during my career. Later on I'm hoping to dabble in some courses in various other areas that strike my fancy, and to be honest I'm as excited about this as I've been about anything in a long time.
If you're interested here are the four MOOC resources listed in the Journal story: