A month or so ago I wanted this year over and the hope for a new one to start. I felt that 2012 was a total wash and I still feel like that.
And then and then. I like to learn new things. I think a year is lost if you haven’t learned something new or at very least re-learned something you missed or misunderstood from the past. If I used those metrics 2012 was one of the better years.
Early on I began with piano, this I devoted 30min a day, religiously. It has paid dividends in that I can play a mean melody with either hand. Of course the switch has yet to be thrown where I can do Bass with L and Melody with R. My mind actually shuts off the other arm totally. It fricking funny and a bit freakish. But playing anything more complex than holding a beat rocking from a third to a fifth will switch off the melody like a power cut.
Later, in early Summer I bought myself a small DSLR camera. It had always been in my mind to get one of the higher end cameras. But movement in the sector where quality was improving on an almost weekly basis meant unless you were willing to pay over cash for the sake of it you were better off not getting anything new until about now. Of course there are aspects of my purchase which are disappointing. It is slightly out of date. But not so much that it will be useless in five years. No, the Nikon D3000 will be on my hip while I hike up hill or down dale for many years to come. Nor is learning about photography a time fascist, you know where you have to devote X hours daily. Oddly I thought it would have been. But since I put it on my hip or in the car anytime I leave the house it has become ‘how’ I’m mediating with my environment. And because I’ve put in perhaps 3 hours a day with it, it has become a internalized process. Which in itself is problematic. I was truly thrown when the days shortened and the light levels went well above 100ISO ( that’s reversed, low ###iso=brighter day/room). I thought my camera was shot. It really took me a few days to work out the cause and the fix, more importantly. A process the internet was heaven made to solve.
Equally as exhilarating was the Coursera course on finance I undertook between August and October. I was put on to Coursera by people who work in the HE sector. They thought it might be the real thing since it was making all the correct noises.
Exhilarating and disappointing. If they continue with the programme they will have to change certain things. Now don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has ever been to a ‘good’ university know the real thing when they meet it. And this is real. But the logistics are so off that they are virtually guaranteeing untold stress and tracking to disappointment. Here are a few examples that need fixing.
In the course I did there were 150,000 online. All requiring a new privately published book that could only be ordered from Amazon. Now this isn’t insurmountable these days as many will have e-readers. But for those who order by post getting the book six weeks into a ten week course, since that’s the time from order to slap on the mat, means you simply cannot catch up not process. While working around it with general reading which is what I did is unsatisfactory for there are times where you are utterly mystified until you lay in another series that covers that area. Truth is another, or perhaps preciseness would be a better term. If the basic requirements you need to grasp the concepts change midway and you’re expected to have three other ancillary courses before progressing then you cannot possible gain the full benefit. It simply destroys, for no matter how intelligent, you need real intelligence/data to process and progress. In university you are time managed. You may not think so. You may even think you are un-managed. The reality is you’ll not be as managed ever again. But with an on-line course the question is of time available to devote to crunching data and understanding concepts. This has to fit around other areas of life and if the course is time constrained as this one was at ten weeks. Then precision on time requirements is a must, it simply cannot be open-ended. It has taken me a while to understand what was wrong. Yes, the course is good. And yes the teaching is excellent. But Gautham Kaul has presumed the Coursera platform has provided the backup to him and his much as he would get at a physical university. This simply didn’t happen. Is it fixable. Yes it is. The problem though will be with people like me who have undergone a course AND know what to expect. Would I advise anyone to read for this course. Well, yes and no. There is a very real potential for this to destroy a confidence that’s delicate and without support and to make someone feel foolish for attempting at all.
What did this mean to me. Well I finished the course and passed all assignments. A bit of a miracle, truth be told. My mind near melted while doing Statistics and because of that and a streak of stubbornness I’m doing a course on Stats. I’m not going to be stymied with something the kids get.
Of course Excel and the excel-like platforms are a bit of an eye-opener. With a few clicks of a mouse you can predict your income from pensions 30/40/50 years ahead. I learned a new phrase or two. The very best of which is Plug-an-Chug. I learned the formulas with a page of paper or a calculator. But once you understand the concept why on earth would you do it longhand when you plug-in the numbers to Excel and get them out instantly, painlessly and correct. IF YOU USED THE CORRECT Fx, 😀 something by no means a certainty.
The biggest issue with education on the internet is greed. Many platforms in the past were little more that a shell game to separate the gullible from their cash. But if they get it correct the internet will be known for education generally and further education specifically. But there is still a need to do some serious analysis from the point of view of those at the user end. And not only those that are doing well but far more importantly those that enter and don’t complete.