Friday, 8 March 2013

What The....? Another Blog?

Yes. With Good Reason.

Very few people want to read this. I absolutely don't blame them. I mostly write this for myself, in fact. So filling up my general blog with it was making no sense.

Back in January a friend posted on Facebook that she had just completed an online course on Coursera. I had a look and liked what I saw. Free courses, which you could do on your own schedule. For fun. I signed up for one immediately, but it was months away so I looked for others. I browsed the entire selection.

Each course showed how much time was required on a weekly basis to do the work involved, which consists mostly of watching short video lectures. I decided I could manage two, and signed up for those. In the blog I wrote at the time, I said:

"Who says Facebook isn't serious and educational. HUH? I went on there this morning and a friend posted about this:

Online courses offered free by various universities around the world. Irresistible. 4 to 6 hours a week? Easy. A far better use of spare time than playing games, that's for sure.

Straight away I signed up for Social Psychology. Then I noticed that Genetics and Evolution had already started, but only just over a week ago - I can catch up. I have so far resisted the temptation to join anything else,

EDIT: I caved and signed up for The Modern World: Global History since 1760 and very glad that I did, as it is absolutely awesome, but I am looking at others:
SECOND EDIT: This history course is perfect. It really is. If you have any interest in history, or why things are the way they are, I promise you'll love it. It costs nothing, and the material is so easy to follow. I cannot recommend it highly enough."

I enjoyed it from the get-go, and started adding more, and more. I discovered I could fit quite a lot in, it just meant sleeping a bit less and changing my schedule. All doable, and well worth it.

I celebrate my 51st birthday in a few weeks, and this is the first education of any type I've done since I left school in 1979. I didn't get any further education. That's a long story, not for now. But I've always studied in my own way, reading a lot, writing a lot, and generally taking an interest. I am effectively self-educated. This however is a step up. It's structured and it extremely well-presented.

So, on the whole it's not too difficult.

My next blog on the topic went like this:

"I warned my family officially last night, I'm going to be annoying for a while.

They often say you simply don't realise what it is that you need until you get it, and I had been perfectly content with my life. Unlike an enormous number of people my age, I was not unfulfilled. I have a great life, a wonderful family, my own thriving little business, and so on. I also have my writing which allows me to get outside of myself, and that's important for all sorts of reasons. Add on various hobbies and interests, I had no sense of needing more. And I'm busy, which is how I like things. I get bored easily.

So along comes this opportunity to study and I'm blown away by how I suddenly feel, yep, apparently I needed that. I wasn't aware that I did, but clearly there was a great gaping hole in my schedule, that, in one fell swoop, when I added this, has lifted me from content to giddy with happiness.

The level of difficulty is just right. It's nicely challenging without being oppressive. The first thing I will be doing this morning is looking up a few words that cropped up in the Genetics video yesterday, which I had never come across before, and want to be quite clear on before I proceed.

Then I have to check some data from the History video yesterday, which was covered so fast, I don't think I got it.

The latter issue was the death rate of slaves in the New World, and how this varied from place to place. So I was talking about it to the boys while we made dinner. That was when I warned them - as I learn stuff, I'm going to talk about it, and above all you are going to hear me say:

"My professor said....."

This is new to me.

Many of you have been to college. Some of you are very highly educated. Perhaps at the time, when you were young, you took all this for granted, as the young tend to do.

I can't do that. I'm far too excited, and far too wrapped up in my discoveries.

Not that learning new things is different per se. My choice in reading materials and things to watch on screens is frequently informative. I have done plenty of research over the years in all sorts of areas, often in considerable depth. I have many, many books that are in effect textbooks, and I have read them for pure pleasure.

But this discipline, this dedication of study, is new to me. It's good for me. I am learning more than just the material presented. I am learning about myself, and I am learning about the effect of formal guided education.
Just don't be surprised if the material I'm studying causes blogs."

Since then I have mentioned it a few more times, including the confession that I had signed up for lots more courses, some I've started, some I dropped, in fact, and there are lots more ahead. I am addicted. There's no other way to describe it.

I was in fact quite relieved to discover that there are many others like me at Cousera. Some are people with free time, some are cramming it in, but many, many of us are addicted. It's a good addiction.

The time I am spending on my studies each week is no more than other people spend watching TV, playing games, reading magazines, or indulging in other things they enjoy, take up time, but are not educational. And they are not ashamed of it. So I'm certainly not ashamed of this.

But I do also feel the need to talk about it. So this is the space I created for that, even if I'm talking to myself. If you want to read it, please select some sort of follow option, as I won't be announcing it!


  1. Nice that you've set aside yet another little outlet for this. You are, at the very least, organized enough to place your thoughts in groups rather than randomly inserting them among all the rest of your life (and then trying to find where you've said what later).

    Notice how silent I have been about my own two classes? Yep--interest on my end has been usurped with other things. I admire your dedication to learning. Like most things, when we're really ready to do the work, we get to experience amazing things. :) ~ Blessings!

  2. Fitting things into one's schedule is the hardest part of all, isn't it? I don't need to put any effort into the dedication aspect, it's more I have to drag myself away sometimes.