Today, I wanted to discuss the major challenges I expect for this project. And tomorrow, I plan to wrap up the week by answering your questions and reviewing the ways you can follow along with the Degree of Freedom experiment.
Regarding challenges trying to learn the equivalent of a liberal arts BA in twelve months using only free educational resources (such as the various MOOCs that have come online in the last year), the biggest one I can see right now is the lack of higher level courses needed to obtain the equivalent of a major in my chosen field of study (philosophy).
MOOCs first made news when courses in computer science subjects exceeded enrollment expectations by an order of magnitude. And while they have been expanding into more liberal arts subjects (including philosophy), pickings outside of technology related subjects are still slim (especially with regard to courses that would be considered advanced for major requirements).
A Coursera class in the important modern Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was just announced for availability in October, and I’m already looking at higher-level classes on other philosophy subjects offered through iTunes. But, as of now, this project won’t succeed unless more advanced content becomes available by the time I start my Senior year in October.
The other challenge is how to manage a workload that will involve taking anywhere form 4-7 classes simultaneously throughout the year.
On paper this should work out (based on the number of hours professors are claiming their classes demand per week). But over the next few weeks, I should get a better handle of how these numbers translate to the real world (a real world in which I also have to make time for communicating to all of you via this blog, the Degree of Freedom newsletter and other vehicles).
But keep in mind that monitoring the time needed to keep up this pace is part of this overall experiment which I expect will help answer questions regarding how MOOCs compare to traditional classroom-taught courses with regard to rigor and demands on student time.
Tomorrow, I plan to provide detailed answers to all the questions that have come in via the comments section and Contact form. So if you’ve got a question you’ve been dying to ask, today is the day to send it in.