My Freshman Year Lineup

So far, I’ve got the Degree of Freedom schedule together for all of my Freshman and most of my Sophomore year.  Junior- and Senior-year schedules are a work in progress – as (I hope) are some of the MOOC and other higher-level courses I’m going to need to complete my planned philosophy major.

So here’s the lineup for my soon-to-be-completed Frosh three months:

Course: Think Again – How to Reason and Argue
Institution: University of North Carolina and Duke University
Provider: Coursera
Category: Social Sciences
Credits: 1 (Major)
 
Course: The Modern and the Post Modern
Institution: Wesleyan  University
Provider: Coursera
Category: Social Sciences
Credits: 1 (Major)
 
Course: Property and Liability
Institution: Wesleyan University
Provider: Coursera
Category: Social Sciences
Credits: 1
 
Course: Statistics
Institution: San Jose State University
Provider: Udacity
Category: Science and Mathematics
Credits: 1
 
Course: World War II History
Institution: Harvard University
Provider: EdX
Category: Social Sciences
Credits: 1
 
Course: Life in the Universe
Institution: Ohio State University
Provider: iTunes
Category: Science and Mathematics
Credits: 1
 
Course: The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida
Institution: College of the Holy Cross
Provider: Great Courses
Category: Social Sciences
Credits: 1 (Major)
 
Course: How to Build a Startup
Institution: Business Class
Provider: Udacity
Category: Special
Credits: .5
 
Course: The World of George Orwell
Institution: Indiana State University
Provider: Modern Scholar
Category: Humanities
Credits: .5

 

Now some of you who are also enrolled in these same courses will recognize that the way some of them are scheduled means I need to fudge timings a bit.  (Two of the Coursera courses I’m listing in my Freshman lineup will actually spill over into April and May, and some of the classes that I’ll be including in my Sophomore year  – such as two Harvard EdX classes in Ethics and Greek History – actually begin this week.)

This is one of several topics related to time that I’m planning to devote a week to later in the month.

But a more pressing issue has to do with what factors go into declaring that something constitutes a full-credit course.  For in the list above, some of the classes are “conventional” MOOCs (i.e., classes offered by MOOC providers like Coursera, EdX and Udacity that include scheduled lectures, assignments and grades), while others (notably those offered on iTunes and through non-technology providers like Great Courses and Modern Scholar) offer only audio- or video-based lectures.

This brings up the important issue of the difference between “taking” a class and simply auditing one.

In traditional college settings, “auditing” refers to sitting through the lectures for a course, but not handing in any assignments or taking the class for a grade.  But in the online world, this distinction needs significantly further refinement, which is why I plan to devote tomorrow’s blog entry to this critical subject.

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10 Responses to My Freshman Year Lineup

  1. Olena March 19, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    How do you get 5 credits for this course?
    Course: How to Build a Startup
    Institution: Business Class
    Provider: Udacity
    Category: Special
    Credits: .5

    • DegreeofFreedom March 19, 2013 at 1:48 am #

      It’s half a credit (.5) and it’s via my own system that I’m using to track progress (not a real system for converting this work to formal college credits).

      That said, I will be investigating options for turning work like this into an actual degree as the year goes one so stay tuned.

  2. Hamish March 30, 2013 at 1:49 am #

    How is The World of George Orwell a MOOC? Or Modern Intellectual Tradition? For both you have to pay quite a lot. I thought you were doing a free degree (as you state on the coursera blog) and the idea of a MOOC is that it is free.

    There are a growing number of free MOOC providers, such as Open2Study, Futurelearn (starting soon).

    • DegreeofFreedom March 31, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      As I mentioned on my posting from this Friday, these audio-based classes are available for free at many libraries (which is why I place them in the free category). But like iTunes courses – they are self-paced and lecture only, which does separate them from MOOCs which usually (although not always) include things like homework, reading assignments and assessments. I realize that everyone might not agree that including this type of material counts as “taking” (vs. auditing) a course, but – as I discussed during the first week of this blog – in the post discussing MOOCs vs. iTunes – I think a case can be made to include these types of sources, given their comprehensiveness and quality. Food for continuing discussion.

  3. CJ Fearnley March 30, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    Fascinating lineup! I do not like iTunes because I have been unable to run it on my Linux systems and so I’m boycotting them for technological ineptness. But I will take a stand with you that archived aka at-your-own-pace courses are every bit as good, if not better, than deadline-driven MOOCs like edX and Coursera. Of course, self-discipline is required to get through them. I really like MIT OpenCourseWare and Open Yale Courses. I would submit that by writing blogs or lecture summaries or other derivative writing, one can transform a course from something that is merely done to “get through it” into a productive activity.

    If you need a good guidance counselor, I would welcome the role. My presentation on Education Automation Now and in the Future may provide some guidance on its own, but I’d be glad to supplement by answering any questions you might have.

    One concern I have is that there are precious few on-line courses at the junior and senior level. There are plenty of freshmen level courses and quite a few at the sophomore level. In computer science, I think you could get the equivalent of a 4 year degree. One of my goals is to finish MIT’s 3.60 Symmetry, Structure, and Tensor Properties of Materials. But I doubt that would give me a 4 year degree in Materials Science.

    Your choice of Philosophy is one of the few subjects where there are enough courses to do the equivalent of a 4 year degree. But I still think you’ll have to fudge it with senior-level courses having 10 page papers to write. One self-paced course in Philosophy/Literature that I thought was great is The Art of Living. If your wrote a 20 page paper about that course or one of Yale Philosophy courses, I’d call your experiment a success.

    Good luck with it!!!

  4. Dave of that ilk March 8, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    I’d like to run my courses past you. 20 now, 17 from Coursera! would be interested in how you’d give credit values for them. I personally believe that it would could take as much as 25-30 MOOC’s to be the equivalent of an AA/AS. I don’t believe 32 MOOC’s would be enough to equate with a BA. I like what you are doing though, the number of courses is my only debate…

    • DegreeofFreedom March 10, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      I’d have to see which courses they were and, even then, this would just be one person’s judgment. An obvious rule of thumb would be to correlate class length with semester equivalency (which would make a 14-week course like Wesleyan’s The Modern and the Post modern closer to full credit than a 6-8 week course like Property and Liability. But I didn’t want to jump to that conclusion until trying courses of differing lengths from different professors since (as I discovered) some short courses are just taught very efficiently while others are designed to deliver a subset of the information you would likely get in a full-semester class.

      Overall, I think your calculations regarding BA vs. AA is probably right, although the two caveats I’d throw out are (1) the argument I made at the end of my project regarding evaluating an experience like my “One Year BA” based on outcomes (what I became) vs. inputs (how many hours of lectures I listened to or papers I wrote) and (2) since none of these courses currently provide access to actual college credit, I would ultimately leave it up to a body such as ACE to do the heavy lifting of calibrating courses for college equivalency.

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