Let’s learn together on Coursera!

laptop-learningI am planning on enrolling in a couple Computer Science Massive Open Online Courses in the upcoming months. MOOCs allow anybody with an internet connection enrollment in university-level courses. The course material is available in a structured, community-oriented format. The material can also be accessed in a self-paced manner. MOOCs cover a wide-range of topics from: Entrepreneurship to Computer Science to Math to Agriculture and beyond. These courses are offered by top universities including: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley and University of Chicago.

Wanna take a class together?

  • In January, I will be taking Algorithms, Part 1  which is offered by Princeton University (sign up/get more info). I am taking this to complement a Data Structures course I am taking next semester. I know the material will overlap which I am hoping will reinforce my understanding of the material.

My first experience with a MOOC

individual-learningIn the Spring of 2013 I  stumbled upon MIT’s OpenCourseware and went through their lecture notes for Introduction to Psychology to supplement what I was learning in my own class. However, I did not actually watch more than a couple of the video offerings. I was astonished by the wealth of course material easily accessible to non-MIT students.

This past summer I had my first full-fledged MOOC experience by enrolling in Computer Science 101 via Stanford Online. CS101 is a 6-week course, taught with JavaScript. It’s “an excellent first step for someone who then wants to take a full programming course”.  I was able to communicate with my classmates online. There were people enrolled in CS101 as young as Junior High to lifelong learners. After taking CS101 I felt comfortable taking a computer science class at my university. The class is currently offered in a self-paced manner here. When you successfully complete the course you receive a Statement of Accomplishment.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) 101

MOOC | Copyright Giulia Forsythe

What is a MOOC? | Image Copyright Giulia Forsythe

How much do they cost? Can I get college credit from taking a MOOC?

MOOCs are traditionally not for credit. Most courses will offer a certificate of achievement. You can sometimes pay for additional certification. Due to verification procedures this needs to be indicated upon enrollment. In some cases, you may receive free credit for taking a MOOC.

They’re free?! Where do I Sign-Up?

You can browse through Udacity, Coursera and edX to see their offerings. Each site pairs with various universities to offer courses in a wide-range of topics. Each course indicates any  prerequisites.

Do I have to register in advance?

No. MOOCs encourage larger learning communities! If you register in advance, you will receive reminders prior to the start of the class. You can generally enroll in these courses at anytime. Even in the middle of a session or after a course has officially ended the material is still accessible.

What courses are you looking forward to taking in 2015? Here’s a list of 60 free online Computer Science classes that will be offered this year. 

In addition to MOOCs, I have learned material online via Codecademy, Khan Academy and Team Treehouse. Have additional questions about my experiences with online learning? Feel free to contact me or comment below.

Credits: The icons used in this post are courtesy of Algogenius.



Monica started Black Tech Diva to document her journey of learning more about programming and web development. If you'd like to chat, feel free to tweet her: @waterproofheart.