My MOOCs Spring 2015

Exactly two years ago I wrote a blog post: My MOOCs. So, today is a good time to follow up and list my MOOCs for 2015.

Dipped my toes

I first heard about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in 2011 and I registered for a few courses in 2012 and early 2013. I watched many of the video lectures and did a few of the assignments but didn’t do any examinations. This is also the case for the majority of people registered for a MOOC: “two-thirds of registrants only deep their toes” (source: Forbes, A Year In MOOC: Results Of The First 17 edX Courses Released, by Gil Press).

However, I still use the archived class material from the excellent Model Thinking course as a reference. For example when I recently needed to do a recap of Markov processes. The comprehensive Introduction to Data Science course gave me some understanding of things like Hadoop, NoSQL and Machine Learning. And the programming assignments some hands-on experiences with the Twitter API, Sentiment Analysis in Python and Algorithms in Mapreduce.

Going All in

For the fall 2013 I decided to “go all in” for MOOCs. So, from September 2013 to June 2014 I got 9 certificates from participating in MOOCs. From Fundamentals of Clinical Trials and Medicines adherence to Machine Learning, Metadata and R programming.

My MOOC Certificates in my LinkedIn profile

Some of the courses were a bit of recap and a nice way to confirm things I know about, such as the one on metadata. While others were much more challenging, such as the 12 weeks of extensive lectures by Harvard professors on topics such as sample size and statistical power in clinical trials. And the 10 weeks with Andrew Ng, the Stanford professor in Machine Learning and founder of Coursera, getting some intuition about and doing some programming with Neural Networks, Principal component analysis (PCA) and other machine learning algorithms.

Proving value

For me as a life time learner this proved to be an excellent opportunity to use a time of uncertainty at work and a great way to prepare for a large re-organisation. My evolving list of MOOC certificates proved to be a valuable part of my job application.

I also had the opportunity to share my experiences in, and enthusiasm for, MOOCs with colleagues in a couple of presentations and “MOOC lunches”. It was very nice to discuss over lunch for example the real cases from FDA in designing clinical trials with a small group of colleagues And it was interesting to organize a larger group to discuss over a few lunches how the thinking from the MOOC in Gamification could be applied for e.g. medicines adherence for asthma patients.

MOOC fatigue

Before my summer holidays I was planning to finalize my third, of in total nine, short MOOCs in the Data Science specialization from Coursera. And also doing the assignments in the one on Knowledge Engineering with Semantic Web Technologies. However, I experienced what others also have reported: MOOC fatigue. So, I decided to take a brake over the summer.

After the summer the first MOOCs from Swedish universities were announced from Karolinska Institutet (edX), Lund University (Coursera) and now also Chalmers (edX). In September I started my second course in R programming, one of the MOOCs from Karolinska Institutet (Explore statistics with R). An excellent course but I still felt a bit tired so I never finalized it. And I haven’t registered for any more courses in the Data Science specialization.

Plan for spring 2015

After an intensive last part of 2014 in our new organisation I do now feel inspired again and ready for a some new MOOCs. So, here’s a coupe of my recent tweets revealing what’s on my list of MOOCs for the spring 2015. Will see if I just “deep my toes” in some of them or if I “go all in” ;-).

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