Participating in this fascinating social, educational, and even cultural experiment that has the power to transform learning and teaching worldwide, is a pretty amazing opportunity in and of itself.
I’m going to admit something that for some, I'm sure, isn't going to shatter any illusions, but I did not entirely hate school when I was a kid. In fact, I kind of dug it. Granted, I didn’t love the uneasy feeling of not knowing what awaited me at the beginning of each school year, but from an early age I grew addicted to learning and the opportunity to dive into the things I really enjoyed like literature and history and music. I also loved the wonderful feeling of discovering something new that left me breathless and excited.
I suppose that’s why I always look forward to Labor Day like a small child welcomes the coming of Christmas, even though my school days are long behind me. While, of course, I know and believe we are lifelong learners—well, I am at any rate—my days of formal education ended with a graduate degree not quite two decades ago. Well, at least that’s what I thought.
When my BFF emailed me earlier this year about a website called Coursera, which offers free online courses from prestigious institutions of higher education, I was immediately suspicious. I worked in higher education once upon a time and know that courses weren’t just given away for free. My friend mentioned she’d already signed up for a course being offered by Stanford University, so that certainly made me curious. When I check out the site for myself it all seemed on the up and up.
I ended up signing up for two classes: Gamification offered by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which I took for business purposes, and Introduction to Philosophy, offered by The University of Edinburgh, which I always wanted to take in college, but could never quite fit into my schedule.
My Gamification class just started at the beginning of September. Taught by Wharton Associate Professor, and co-author of the ebook For the Win, Kevin Werbach, it’s one of the first university-level courses on this timely subject. You can take the class for a certificate of completion, which means you need to do the weekly homework, complete the quizzes and final exam, and participate in the discussion forums, or you can simply watch the lectures and do whatever aspects of the homework, quizzes, etc. you want if you don’t really care about the certificate, which requires a passing grade.
The course itself won’t earn you any college credits, so, other than the certificate, which I do think you could list on your resume and anywhere else such credentials would be of value, here’s what I’m getting out of my online educational experience that’s certainly worth the time investment, never mind the tuition:
And, although it’s not on the hit list above, participating in this fascinating social, educational, and even cultural experiment that has the power to transform learning and teaching, not just in higher education, but across the entire spectrum of education worldwide, is a pretty amazing opportunity in and of itself.
So, while I watch all the kids in my neighborhood acclimate to their new school schedules, their shiny new backpacks already weighted down with more books than their small frames are meant to carry, this September, rather than feel a twinge of envy, I’m actually commiserating. For I, too, have quizzes and a final exam for which I need to study and homework I have to devote a portion of my weekends to (aw, man, that’s so not fair).