Friday, April 4, 2014

I have been spending my time taking courses at  A member of one of my listservs, I believe it was devchix, made me aware of a beginning Android course -Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems. It was taught by Dr. Adam Porter of the University of Maryland - College Park. It was taught at the college sophomore/junior level so you didn't have to sit through beginning computer science stuff. The course assumed you knew Java. The course consisted of video lectures, online quizzes, and programming assignments. I started almost a month late so I had some catching up to do. The course is free and if you successfully complete the course you get a certificate of accomplishment. For $49 you can sign up for the signature track where you are expected to get 90% to get its certificate and the URL to it to put on your resume or give to your employer to show you successfully completed the course. This course had 150,000 students world wide so if only half of them signed up for the signature track Coursera stood to make a great deal of money so in the end the courses are paid for even though they are free to every one else. $49 is cheaper than a regular college course. I just wanted the knowledge so I wasn't going to pay $49 for it. This course is the beginning of a series of 4 courses in the Android Specialization. If you make it through all 4 courses on the signature track and are one of the top students Google will give you an iPad and the opportunity to put your final project in the App Store. The first course ended 18 days ago. I signed up for the next course, Pattern-Oriented Software Architectures: Programming Mobile Services for Android Handheld Systems, offered by Vanderbuilt University which starts in a month. I figured the Android knowledge would be good if some one wanted to use Errai to program for Androids beside the fact Android knowledge is in hot demand.

Right now I am taking 2 courses, Web Application Architectures offered by the University of New Mexico and Fundamentals of Digital Image and Video Processing offered by Northwestern University. The Web Applications class assumes you know a programming language and teaches you full stack development using Ruby on Rails. I didn't know Ruby on Rails so I signed up. This course has turned out to be easier than the Android course but I am learning new things. The Digital Processing class which started last Monday looks like it is going to be harder even though I got 100% on the first quiz. The course expects you to know calculus and linear algebra and uses Matlab to program.. This course has knowledge I wish I had 2 years ago when I was looking for a thesis adviser. One professor I approached who worked on programming for MRIs gave me one of his papers and said if I could implement it he would be my thesis adviser. The paper had such advance math my math professor cousin couldn't help me with it. I attempted the paper but I don't know why I thought I could do it when I didn't even know the basics of digital processing. I still would like to be able to implement the paper so that professor didn't think I am stupid.

Coursera offers 400+ courses in a variety of subjects at varying levels of difficulty. They are offering a beginning computer science course right now that uses Python. I almost signed up for it but since it was designed to be a student's first computer science course and I have already spent time on Python I figured it would be too easy. Other programming courses are offered for different languages and advance math required for computer science. I have found the courses to be enjoyable.

I went back to finish another online course on Javascript and JQuery that I started in October 2012 that I almost but never finish. It was with not Coursera. I soon realized why I didn't finish the course. It is all reading, no videos, with a couple of short exercises at the end of a module that are not graded. I believe there is an assessment at the end of the course to get a certificate but I haven't made it that far to find out. The most irritating part are all the ads you have to put up with between each page of the sections in the modules to take the course for free. Most pages of the sections are rarely longer than a screen shot. When you go to the next page you have to look at an ad for 15 seconds while the page of the section is loading. For 30 pounds you can get rid of the ads in the course and for 75 pounds you can get rid of all course and website ads. I am not going to pay money for a course I am not enjoying. I could just as easy read for free without the ads an online tutorial and get the same knowledge just not get the certificate. The course isn't even well written. Online tutorials often have you build an example program as you go along to demonstrate the concepts. The Alison course is just snippets of code for exercises that don't tie together or build into a working application unlike Coursera. Coursera courses run during a set time frame with deadlines for quizzes and programming assignments if you want a certificate. You can go back to the course archive to review when the course is over. Alison courses are not during a set time frame. The advantage of taking the course at the same time as other people like with Coursera is you can discuss the course with other people on the class forum. Coursera courses are kept up to date. Alison is still offering Microsoft Office 2003 with no courses on the most recent editions. There's no telling how out of date my Javascript and JQuery class is. There is a box at the bottom of a page of Alison to ask questions but I have no idea how long it takes to get an answer or whether anybody is paying attention to the course. Alison claims to have 600+ courses which is more than Coursera but the quality is not the same.

No comments:

Post a Comment