Friday, July 27, 2012

Boost your brain this summer: Coursera, edX, TED-Ed and other online learning resources

I declared my summer 2012 as a summer of learning. I love learning new things by myself and I have already reflected on the topic of self education here a two and a half year ago. There I listed several resources that are generally still actual, however some new great opportunities have emerged for self-learners. MIT OCW, for example, seemed to be one of the greatest things, however, when digging into it, you might get just partial information (just lecture notes, just assignments, etc). I was more looking forward to a real online class, with video lectures, assignments, deadlines etc. 

Earlier this month I learned about an online course of power searching offered by Google. I signed up for it partly because of I was interested to learn the methods and media used in the course, then surely also to learn new things on search. They were 6 classes, each comprised of lessons (video lectures) and activities (quizzes). There was a mid-term assignment with a deadline and a final assignment. One could attempt to take them as many times as needed and just the highest score was being counted. The certificates were being sent out to those who got at least 75% score. I got 100% :) Now the classes are online for everyone, without the assessments, however.
Hopefully, more courses like this will be offered by Google!
I had heard of Coursera since months ago, however signed up for it just recently, after I watched its co-founder Daphne Koller talk at TEDGlobal 2012 (the talk is not yet up on, I watched the webstream, upd. 03.08.2012 - the talk is now live!). There were several interesting courses starting in September, January 2013 and even later. The first course I signed up to, started on July 23 - "Internet History, Technology, Security".
It features video lectures every week, quiz assignments and peer-graded assignments. The platform has a basic wiki for additional resources and also a discussion board, where students discuss various topics (except for the quiz answers :) and even form study groups (there is one for Armenians as well).
I really love the coursera platform and look forward to completing several courses there!

Interesting read: Is Coursera the Beginning of the End for Traditional Higher Education?, Forbes
upd. TED blog featured 12 great free online courses. (03.08.2012)

This is TED's educational initiative, was presented at TEDxSummit in Doha, and launched in spring. It features animated videos on various topic that can be used in classes.
Here is one of the most recent lessons: "How do pain relievers work?"

Here is one of my favorites: The cockroach beatbox

First it was MITx, now it's edX - ambitiously announced as the future of online education. It's MIT and Harvard that teamed up to create online courses for interactive studies on the web, free for everyone.
EdX's goals combine the desire to reach out to students of all ages, means, and nations, and to deliver these teachings from a faculty who reflect the diversity of its audience. EdX is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and is governed by MIT and Harvard.
Few days ago edX announced its 7 courses for Fall 2012 on Computer science and Chemistry from MIT, Harvard and Berkeley. Currently I'm looking forward to new courses that would be of my interest.

Interesting read: Universities Reshaping Education on the Web, The New York Times.

p.s. Some reflections on current educational system in Russian:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adios to my *Desire* and welcome *Simply Stunning*!

The time has come for my old Android phone to retire ... numerous scratches are reminders of the passionate kisses my phone had with the streets of Rome, Amsterdam, Doha, Warsaw, Cologne, Prague, Paris and others. The saved wi-fi networks could make a separate page in my memoirs :) - TOUR_EIFFEL, Den Haag Nieuw Centraal, Starbucks, TEDx2012, The_Bulldog, ViennArt, UEFAEURO2012, MosaicHouseHotel, ictQATAR_iParks, Hilton Gdansk, ING Internet Gate .... scrolling through that list always makes me travel back in memory and smile :)

My HTC Desire served me for whole 2 years.. I flashed it once with a new rom a year ago and it had a little more better battery life then. The worst thing about HTC Desires is the awfully small internal memory.. I couldn't install new apps for months.. had to constantly clear the browser cache and choose between the apps - which ones to keep. It was too annoying and I finally found the substitute :)

My A. bought himself a cool white HTC One X - the latest and one of the most powerful smartphones... I was hesitating between the X and S and eventually chose the latter, for difference. And my geeky self is HAPPY!!!

I installed some 30 apps the first day and of course - started instagraming :D I now enjoy the ICS Android and the dual-core processor performance..The camera is just amazing.. I can take quality pictures while videoing! and it has the Beats Audio™! 

I bought it from VivaCell-MTS, as it added me a "smart-bonus" worth half the price of the phone. I basically now have unlimited viva calls, texts and 3G internet!!!!!!! which is just awesome :) Listening to online radios on the go? no problem! :P
and here are the specs:

Monday, July 2, 2012


.at, .cz, .nl, .de, .fr, .ae, .qa, .ru, .pl .. :)) 
My check-ins from the last 6 months include this many countries :) [in reality, I didn't travel in all of them, .ae and .ru were transit points] .. traveling is my drug, my motivation, the trigger for my accomplishments, inspiration and for mental "restart".
I have estimated that I need at least 2 trips abroad a year, in order not to feel travel-sick. 
I know that I need to work hard to achieve this and I have found out which direction to work on :)

It's twice as awesome to travel with someone dear ;) [recent discovery, haha]

So here is a thank you shout-out for you, my dearest, for making this all awesomeness happen to me!

Poland. June, 2012

over the clouds...

p.s. my previous post on traveling.