Free Courses Online

I’ve been look­ing into online edu­ca­tion late­ly, beyond my exper­i­ment with learn­ing pro­gram­ming (which is still ongo­ing). These are some of the resources I’ve iden­ti­fied. They’re all free, although you don’t get col­lege cred­it for the courses.

  • Cours­era — cours­es taught by instruc­tors var­i­ous top universities.
  • Khan Acad­e­my — video cours­es on every top­ic under the sun, at many levels
  • Udac­i­ty — cours­es involve prob­lem-solv­ing and add the option to take tests at test­ing centers.

There are long lists at these two arti­cles. I don’t see a rea­son to repro­duce them here.

General Update

It has been some time since I post­ed much here, so I fig­ure that I should do a bit of an update. It isn’t as if any­thing has changed in any big way. Sam has the same nice and sta­ble job, and we’re still very hap­pi­ly togeth­er after—oh, wow, it’s twelve years this month.

Katie is a col­lege stu­dent now, and still liv­ing at home (I’m very hap­py about that!) since she decid­ed to attend a local school. Her health issues haven’t gone away, but she’s try­ing so very hard—I wor­ry about her con­stant­ly. She push­es and push­es until she col­laps­es every day and at the end of every week. She has a very active social life (what do you expect? she’s a babe!), and hap­pi­ly she has a great group of friends who are sup­port­ive about help­ing her get to class when nei­ther she nor I drive. 

One of the class­es she was sup­posed to take (French) was can­celed due to inad­e­quate enroll­ment. She was ter­ri­bly unhap­py, and I was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed because I was look­ing for­ward to help­ing her with the sub­ject. On the oth­er hand, it was an 8am class, and with­out it her ear­li­est class is much lat­er in the day. I think it worked out for the best for this semester.

I’ve had anoth­er nui­sance come up with my own health, too. Annoy­ing bod­ies. They’re great when you want to taste choco­late, hug some­one, smell flow­ers, etc. but I have some com­plains about a few design flaws. 

That’s enough for tonight. Tomor­row: More about Art!

School & More Reading

Reg­is­tra­tion clos­es tomor­row, so I have to decide before the end of the day whether or not I’m tak­ing class­es for sum­mer semes­ter or not. Bah. I want a break, but if I’m not in school my stu­dent loans come out of deferment.

I’ve been reading–and lov­ing–Patri­cia Brig­gs’ Mer­cy Thomp­son books. They’re a lot of fun, so I’m push­ing them at Sam, too.

Brig­gs has some amus­ing infor­ma­tion on her site about sil­ver bul­lets, includ­ing a reprint (with per­mis­sion, of course) of an old Gun World arti­cle, Long Ranger, Go Away!

Blah

That’s pret­ty much my opinoin today. Blah. Blah blah blah. I could­n’t wake up enough to dri­ve safe­ly, so I missed an appoint­ment that will take months to reschedule.

For every assign­ment we do in the tech writ­ing course I’m tak­ing, we turn in a rough draft and receive two peer reviews and feed­back from the instruc­tor before doing the final draft. I got the two peer reviews this morn­ing from the assign­ment I turned in on Sun­day, and they were ridicu­lous. Seriously–both reviews were full of non­sense like, “your sub­mis­sion was­n’t dou­ble-spaced” (that’s because the instruc­tions said to sin­gle space it, doo­fus) or “there aren’t dou­ble spaces between the para­graphs” (yes, there are–I dou­ble-checked) or “you have to spell it ‘co-hous­ing’ ” (not when the author­i­ties in the field spell the word ‘cohous­ing’ kid).

They get grad­ed on their peer reviews, as I’ve been on mine, so hope­ful­ly they’ll get sucky grades. I got count­ed down on one of the first ones I did because I was­n’t harsh enough. Yes, that per­son­’s piece need­ed a lot of work, and I could have ripped it to shreds. I was try­ing to stay “con­ge­nial” as instruct­ed. My true thoughts were more along the lines of, “Why are you in this course? Only TCOM majors need to take it, and oh please $deity do NOT tell me you’re major­ing in TCOM when you can hard­ly write a read­able sen­tence.” That would­n’t have been con­ge­nial, would it?

The idea behind the peer reviews is that most tech­ni­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tors work in teams now, so we have to get used to giv­ing each oth­er con­struc­tive crit­i­cism and accept­ing the same. I can han­dle that. I don’t, how­ev­er, see why peo­ple who can’t man­age to sort out “there” and “their,” or who don’t under­stand that an apos­tro­phe does not mean HERE COMES AN “S” are even per­mit­ted in the course. They’re all sup­posed to have passed the basic Eng­lish cours­es before tak­ing any­thing in the TCOM depart­ment, but obvi­ous­ly “pass­ing” and “mas­ter­ing the mate­r­i­al” are not close­ly relat­ed concepts.

Diane Duane Rocks

The Sword and the DragonBack when the Meisha Mer­lin ware­house was being cleaned out, Sam picked up a copy of The Sword and the Drag­on, first vol­ume of the Epic Tales of the Five by Diane Duane that MM put out. It con­tains The Door Into Fire and The Door Into Shad­ow.

The Door Into FireI’ve want­ed my own copies of the first three Tales of the Five books for decades, since read­ing an old friend’s copies. I’m still dis­ap­point­ed that MM nev­er put out the next vol­ume, which should have includ­ed The Door Into Sun­set and the nev­er-before-pub­lished The Door Into Starlight. But then, there are oth­er peo­ple who have far more rea­son to be dis­ap­point­ed about MM mat­ters than I do, so I can’t fuss too much. And I have this vol­ume, and will con­tin­ue to hold out hope that Duane will find a new pub­lish­er who will bring out the oth­ers some­time in my lifetime.

The Door Into ShadowAny­way, I had to stop read­ing to show this bit to Sam. It sums up much of what I love about Duane’s philosophy.

…death is inevitable. But we have one pow­er, as men and beasts and crea­tures of oth­er planes. We can slow down the Death, we can die hard, and help all the worlds die hard. To live with vig­or, to love pow­er­ful­ly and with­out car­ing whether we’re loved back, to let loose build­ing and teach­ing and heal­ing and all the arts that try to slow down the great Death. Espe­cial­ly joy, just joy itself. A joy flares bright and goes out like the stars that fall, but the lit­tle flare it makes slows down the great Death ever so slight­ly. That’s a tri­umph, that it can be slowed down at all, and by such a sim­ple thing.

The Door Into Sunset

Cohousing?

I’m work­ing on my final project for the tech­ni­cal writ­ing course, which is a com­par­i­son of cohous­ing devel­op­ments to sin­gle-fam­i­ly and more tra­di­tion­al mul­ti-fam­i­ly hous­ing. I’m find­ing it dif­fi­cult to find any of the books I want to use as ref­er­ences in the library (school or two coun­ties). Do any of you who are local hap­pen to have books on the sub­ject? Copies of Com­mu­ni­ties mag­a­zine, maybe? I’d appre­ci­ate a chance to look at such things rather than need­ing to buy them via Amazon!

School Happy

I final­ly got the grades from the first tech­ni­cal writ­ing assign­ment I turned in last week, and the peer reviews I did on two of my class­mates’ rough drafts. I got full points for all of them!

I was wor­ried about one of the peer reviews, because the per­son chose to do a set of instruc­tions for start­ing to cross-stitch. I know too much about that top­ic to eval­u­ate it well from a begin­ner’s point of view, and that was the intend­ed audi­ence. I actu­al­ly approached the pro­fes­sor with some ques­tions, and won­dered if I should swap reviews with some­one new to stitch­ing. Hap­pi­ly, the pro­fes­sor said I pro­vid­ed a bal­anced review that reflect­ed my expe­ri­ences as a for­mer begin­ner and cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enced stitch­er, and that I was respect­ful through­out. I was try­ing very, very hard to avoid any hint of con­de­scen­sion, and it appears that it worked!

My top­ic was “Cre­at­ing Your First Pod­cast,” and that received full points, too. It had to be done with a Flesch–Kincaid Grade Lev­el less than 8th grade, which was not easy. I got it down to 7th grade, and could­n’t go any low­er. The pro­fes­sor said that was due to the tech­ni­cal terms I had to use, and was per­fect­ly acceptable.

Done!

I took my man­age­ment final and turned in my peer review for the human­i­ties class, so I am fin­ished!

I sup­pose this is my spring break, then. All the way ’til Sun­day, when the next class­es start.