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Online Learning and MOOCs

07 July 2013

Aaron Swartz probably said it best:

First, you have to make the best of each kind of time. And second, you have to try to make your time higher-quality.

There are times when I’m simply not capable of anything that requires substantial amounts of brain power. Everyone has these times when he or she is only able to consume but not produce. That’s OK. Most of us resort to entertainment. We can do better.

For some now I have taken online courses or enjoyed educational podcasts. For those speaking German, there are obvious choices:

In the last few months I have taken to dedicated MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) sites, such as Coursera. I don’t care about certifications, but enjoy the high-quality content on there. I’ve taken great classes about Social Networks and Startup Engineering. While preparing for linguistics exams I used the awkwardly named Virtual Linguistics Campus (VLC) by Marburg University. While we’re on the subject of linguistics, there is Lexicon Valley, a very informative podcast trying to explain various topics surrounding the English language. And finally, BBC’s In Our Time is a true treasure trove of knowledge, each one hour episode being a thorough explanation of a topic. The topics themselves vary greatly, from antiquity to astronomy, and in the years of its existence, moderator Melvyn Bragg has accumulated a magnificent archive of episodes and topics. More specific in its topics is the feed of lectures by the Department of Sociology at Oxford.

Keep episodes of these on your mobile player, especially if you have to commute more than 20 minutes every day. Make the best of each kind of time.