Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I found this interesting, about how the popularity of free online education may lead to its being free no longer, and institutions may be begin to charge students. (More here.) Which sort of defeats the purpose, doesn't it.

I'm taking a few classes through Coursera. One is a business class, as mentioned previously, which interested me because although I've had my own business for lo, these many years, I have no formal training in the management thereof. I did serve a term as a program manager at Great Big Huge Test Publishing Company, which job I liked to say consisted primarily of apologizing to clients and then begging co-workers to do the jobs for which they received a bi-weekly check. Just kidding. Sort of. I also managed the deadlines and budgets. Any successes I had in that job should be blamed on my program coordinator, who had a magical gift for inspiring people to get things done. I did learn quite a bit.

There are tens of thousands of students enrolled in the class, students of all ages (high school entrepreneurs on up), from all countries (Bulgaria, Jamaica, Chile, Italy, keep going), and of a variety of occupations. It's fascinating to read about so many different types of small businesses (wineries, vintage furniture shops, financial planning, online information management, ESL institutes, lingerie stores, you name it). I find I'm just as interested in reading the student bios as I am in the required reading for the course.

The online format is fantastic: students watch videos of lectures, reading downloaded text, and discuss questions in forums. The execution of the forum is also fantastic: the sound is good, the content is solid, the site user-friendly and easy to navigate. My only bit of constructive feedback so far is that the quizzes--from an assessment standpoint--bear about as much relation to genuine assessment as my dog does to a rhinoceros. Still and all, so far it is a worthwhile and inspiring endeavor.

Would I pay S100 to take the class? Probably not, unless I'd heard about it from a reliable source. I'm not saying it's not worth the money, it's just that I'm not sure I would have thought about trying it, and I'm not sure I was motivated enough to take that step.

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