The popular press on massively open online courses, or MOOCs, is that they're disrupting the higher education model. Yet, the fact of the matter is, the savviest of higher ed institutions are actually sponsoring or investing in what have turned out to be the most established and sustainable platforms.
Coursera's advisory board (and investors) include Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, and Duke University.
EdX is a nonprofit created by none other than Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -- not just two of the best colleges in Boston, but perhaps in all of Massachussetts (if not the country).
Udacity was born from the minds of two Stanford researchers who have stacked its advisory board with public-sector and private-sector heavyweights like former US Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank, and investors George Zachry and Laurene Powell Jobs.
For their courses, all three of these outfits claim to bring together some of the top scholars in a given field along with effective pedagogy.
If all this isn't proof enough, the mere fact that they use the word "pedagogy" should alert you to their earnestness as academic institutions.
That said, whether you're just looking to refresh your knowledge on a topic or gain new knowledge -- or even earn a certificate such as the ones you can buy through Coursera or the college credits such as available from Udacity -- you can't argue against the convenience, learning opportunities, and even fun presented by them.
Yes, for analytics, too. Here's is a list of upcoming analytics-related and other data-inspired MOOC courses to check out:
Course: Introduction to Statistics: Inference Provider: EdX Start date: July 19 Description: An intro to statistics that covers the most common techniques, particularly how to make valid conclusions based on data from random samples. Teachers: Ani Adhikari and Philip B. Stark of University of California, Berkeley More information: Available here
Course: Computing for Data Analysis Provider: Coursera Start date: September Description: Learn the fundamental computing skills needed for effective data analysis, including how to program in R and to use R for reading data, writing functions, creating visual analytics and applying the latest statistical methods. Teacher: Roger Peng of John Hopkins University More information: Available here and in this video:
Course: Model Thinking Provider: Coursera Start date: Oct. 7 Description: Learn to think with and apply models to make sense of the real world. Teacher: Scott E. Page of University of Michigan More information: Available here and in this video:
Course: Elementary Statistics: The Science of Decisions Provider: Udacity Start date: Rolling start Description: Apply statistics to everyday life, while also learning the methods to collect and organize data. Teachers: Sean Laraway, Ronald Rogers, and Katie Kormanik of San Jose State University More information: Available here and in this video:
Course: Introduction to Data Science Provider: Coursera Start date: To be determined Description: Data scientists are in big demand at big companies. Why, and what are the basic skills that these professionals bring to the table? Teacher: Bill Howe of University of Washington More information: Available here
Course: Intro to Statistics: Making Decisions Based on Data Provider: Udacity Start date: Rolling start Description: Freshen up on the techniques for systematically understanding relationship among data through math, and learn how to visualize those data relationships. Teachers: Sebastian Thrun and Adam Sherwin of Stanford More information: Available here and in this video:
Course: Social and Economic Networks: Models and Analysis Provider: Coursera Start date: To be determined Description: How do social and economic networks form, what patterns do they exhibit, and why do they impact human behavior? Learn how modeling and techniques from statistics, computer science, sociology, math, economics, and other disciplines can provide answers. Teacher: Matthew O. Jackson of Stanford More Information: Available here and in this video:
Have you taken any MOOCs? Share what you liked, or didn't, below.
Let's see... I've already enrolled in a few and couldn't make the deadlines for quizzes and projects. It all started with Coursera's Human-Computer Interaction class. Then I tried to get through an Internet History class (also at Coursera). I've signed up for HTML5 game development at Udacity but haven't had time to watch the lectures. None of these were scheduled concurrently so I thought I could totally get through them... I was oh so wrong.
@SethBreedlove -- great tip about adding this coursework to LinkedIn profiles. A love of learning and desire to extend a skill set are certainly desirable characteristics for most any employer/partner.
That's a good point, regarding independent study. So I suppose another concern is that people who shouldn't be attempting to study independently will attempt to do so anyways when they can get online courses less expensively than from a community college. One more consideration to think about in studying the MOOC model!
@Noreen, community colleges better watch out. I think four-year residential institutions have something to offer that MOOCs don't and can't ever --- that famed experience of getting out of the parents' nest in a somewhat protective environment, with dorms, late-night study sessions, frat parties, etc. Community colleges offer cheap credits for working professionals (for the most part) --- a prime market for MOOCs.