Limitless Learning: A Guide to Online Education

In the world of today, there is no place for words like “I can’t do” or “I don’t know”. If you have a reliable internet connection and the willpower to learn you can virtually learn anything. You must be wondering, why the rhetoric?

To understand this, bear with me. Around four years ago, I was looking for a course on networks and that’s when I chanced upon Coursera. It’s an online website that offers free courses in almost any field. It was a startup at that time and I signed up for one of its courses

I followed till the end, did all the quizzes, learnt a lot but sadly on the last day when I was about to take the final exam, some guests arrived and I was newly married at that time so I tried to be the “sanskaari bahu” and gave up the exam to attend to them and hence couldn’t get a certificate (At that time Coursera was a startup so all the certificate were free as long as you took the exam but now they charge a fee if you want to get the certificate but the course material is still free). Anyway, the certificate wasn’t that important for me as I was doing it for the learning (yeah I am Rancho of 3 idiots :P).

But trust me I was really doing it for the learning since I had just started my new job (my job change and marriage both took place at the same time ) and I needed to refresh my memory on networking since two years in the building automation and electrical distribution industry had made me rusty in the networking field.

Later in 2013, I took an online poetry course organized by Desi Writers Lounge. It was one of the best courses of my life or rather the ONLY course of my life which I did with pure interest as I love writing and poetry. I have been writing poems since the age of twelve. This course made me discover the various forms of rhymes and meters plus I who had been dormant for quite some time due to wedding preparations and my training of new job, discovered that I could really write a poem a week if I set my mind to it. Because in this course we were write to a poem every week as an assignment (YES! That was our assignment God I miss that time) and I managed to nail it every week even though in real life I write a poem in months and that too only when inspiration strikes (which is becoming more infrequent as I am getting older and losing myself in the daily grind of office, kitchen and diaper changes). The course was held online on Google groups and was instructed by the great Noor ul Ain Noor (one of the finest poets I know you can read her work here: http://www.noorulainnoor.com.

Now last week I signed up for another online course on website design (which was recommended to me by Coursera in their regular email which they send me based on the previous courses I have taken. The course is

How To Create a Website in a Weekend! (Project-Centered Course)
I have always wanted to design a website. It has been on my bucket list of “things to learn” for as long as I can remember. Why? Because in my dream world when I become a world famous author (he he there are no limits to dream, right?). I would like to maintain and host my website myself rather than hiring someone to do it for me plus if my husband’s entrepreneurial venture really gets going, I would like to manage the social media and website myself to maintain the brand image as it’s my interest and I believe I can do it better (I have already run the media campaign for the song “Ashq-e-Malal” by Arif Ansari) and since this business is going to be “our” baby and I would like to take care of it as much as I do of our “other” baby (click the parenting tab for more details in this regard).

The best thing about this is it is a four week course and is totally project based. The facility that is its online and I don’t have to go anywhere makes it prefect for me since I have a six month old baby. Let’s see if I can do it this time with a baby.

The online learning world is not limited to Coursera. There are various other websites (although I have no personal experience of them but I have come across them in my search for online learning opportunities)

Udemy: https://www.udemy.com/
The Open University: http://www.open.ac.uk/
Iversity: https://iversity.org/

Another website that I do have a personal experience of is MIT open courseware. I signed up for their course Writing and Reading Short Stories Course.
Actually signed up is the wrong word as MIT open courseware is different form Coursera in the sense that instead of a time based online class this site contains course material of different courses which are taught at MIT and you can download and study them at your own pace. I downloaded the materials for the Writing and Reading Short Stories course but unfortunately I wasn’t motivated enough to study and complete it myself. Maybe because I was alone here whereas in the DWL course we had five participants who regularly met on Google groups so there was a sense of competition as well in completing a poem and in the Coursera one new material was uploaded each week (lecture videos, assignments etc) and the assignments were timed like if you didn’t complete them before a particular date the link would go down and you would get zero credit for that. But if you are really pressed for time but are motivated enough to do something then perhaps MIT open courseware is the path that you can take.

Also, if you are not into nerdy material but are rather into practical stuff then there are videos on YouTube for practically anything. My sister in law designed these decorative items for her home using YouTube videos:

The point is there is no limit to learning. And if in this world and age someone asks you something and you say “I don’t know”, you are in need of some serious coaching.

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