Monday, June 16, 2014

Learn Something New - FutureLearn Courses

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have no doubt noticed some rather unusual and perhaps uncharacteristic pictures popping up in my feed. This is because over the last few weeks I have been doing a course in Creative Coding with FutureLearn.
I actually discovered FutureLearn by chance and thought I'd check it out for myself. What really suckered me in was that they were offering FREE online courses from Universities all over the world from Monash University in Australia (the guys behind my Creative Coding course) to Glasgow University. They're not just limited to the UK either so those of you in the USA etc. who are interested in learning something new, take a look!

As FutureLearn is actually owned by the Open University, I was confident that any course that peaked my interest would be of good quality and that any skills I learnt might actually come in handy. If nothing else, I just wanted to learn something new without having to spend a fortune. I mean, on a personal level, I think education should be free and not just for those who have the funds but that's a whole other story!

Most of the courses seem to be around six weeks long (some are shorter, some are a wee bit longer) with the average course requiring about three hours a week of your time. I've been fitting this in during my lunch hour at work, after Game of Thrones and generally whenever I have 20 minutes or so to spare. It's that flexible, I don't need to set specific time aside to study on a certain night every week, nor do I feel like I am sacrificing my day!

Most of my course has been done through videos and articles (the whole course is online) giving me pointers and exercises to try at home to test my knowledge. What I have noticed with my course is that there is a lot of focus on Social Learning, basically if I get stuck, (which is a lot, I like controlled specific and defined steps and coding requires some creativity and random thinking, totally outside of my comfort zone) then you simply post a comment in relevant activity and someone else on the course will come back to you to help. The great thing here is that there aren't just beginners on the course, some people seriously know what they're talking about and are more than happy to point you in the right direction, be it through videos that break down the basics even more, or articles they've discovered elsewhere on the net that are more akin to an idiot guide for people like me!

I shall stop waffling for now, but to give you an idea of the range of courses available, I'm doing Creative Coding but other course include Forensic Psychology, Mathematical Symbolism and even An Introduction to Journalism.

If you'd like some more information, then be sure to visit the FutureLearn website. I've not been given any incentive to post about FutureLearn but I've just been so impressed I thought it selfish to keep it to myself.

Do you use free online resources to learn new skills? Have you used FutureLearn? What do you think of learning online?


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