Summer MOOCs recommendations

If you’re the type of person who looks forward to the holidays all year but gets bored after three days, a bit of light learning could be just the remedy.

These days there’s no need to spend your precious summer hours tucked away in a summer-school classroom when you can dip into some free calculus while you’re waiting for the swim-up bar to open. There’s an online course for almost anything: dog grooming, aromatherapy, psychology – really, anything.

If you’ve been thinking of polishing up your skills over summer but you’re not ready to commit to a full qualification, then taking a MOOC (massive open online course) is a great way to get a taste and have both a relaxing and productive holiday. MOOCs are free and delivered by top lecturers and teachers across the globe.

Without further ado, here are some of the top MOOCs on offer for summer study. And if there's a MOOC you've been raving about, let us know in the comments below!

How to build a startup with Udacity

How to build a startup – Udacity

Thinking of starting a new venture in 2014? Get some free advice from Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Blank as he takes you through the differences between startups and large companies, business and revenue models, customer development and resourcing.

  • Enrolment: always open
  • Study time: this course is entirely self-paced and you can skip over anything you already know
  • Involves: watching videos, taking quizzes and assessments
  • Led by: Steve Blank, Silicon Valley entrepreneur with eight startups, two books and teaching posts at Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia under his belt. Not to mention Blank was named a ‘Master of Innovation’ by Harvard Business Review

Get more information from Udacity.
 

User experience for the web with Open2Study

User experience for the web – Open2Study

This one is for anyone whose work involves a website. User experience relates to everything from the way we ingest information to the way we physically use equipment or react to visual cues online. A thorough understanding of interface design and usability testing will help you cut through the online cacophony.

  • Enrolment: always open
  • Study time: self-paced, requires approximately 2–4 hours of study per week
  • Involves: watching videos, taking quizzes and assessments
  • Led by: Amir Ansari, Principal Consultant at Stamford Interactive with over 13 years of experience

Get more information from Open2Study.
 

Information security and risk management in context with Coursera

Information security and risk management in context – Coursera

With our reliance on technology we’re all guilty of leaving a swell of data in our wake – but what about data security? As cloud computing becomes mainstream it will pay to make sure you have the latest defence strategies in place and understand just how to maintain that balance between convenience and confidentiality.

  • Enrolment: starts 11 December 2013, runs for 10 weeks
  • Study time: requires approximately 4–6 hours of study per week
  • Involves: watching videos, taking quizzes
  • Led by: Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Director for the Center of Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington

Get more information from Coursera

Introduction to computer science with edX

Introduction to computer science – edX

Harvard’s MOOCs outfit edX kicks off the new year with one of their most popular courses. Teacher David J Malan caters for those with and without programming experience through a mix of virtual labs, interactive learning and video lectures. The problem sets are inspired by real-world cases and allow you to learn by solving problems.

  • Enrolment: starts 1 January 2014
  • Study time: self-paced, with eight problem sets designed to take between 15 and 20 hours each
  • Involves: watching videos, taking quizzes and assessments, one final project
  • Led by: David J Malan, Senior Lecturer at Harvard College for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Get more information from edX.

Management for a competitive edge with Open2Study

Management for a competitive edge – Open2Study

If you’re looking to step up in 2014 then arming yourself with some proven strategies will make a world of difference to your management style. And nothing motivates more than a course on leadership!

  • Enrolment: always open
  • Study time: self-paced, requires approximately 2–4 hours of study per week
  • Involves: watching videos, taking quizzes and assessments
  • Led by: Haldor Aamot, a management consultant in the learning and development industry with experience across project and marketing management, human resources and education

Get more information from Open2Study.

Tales from the genome with Udacity

Tales from the genome – Udacity

Dreading the usual comparison of family traits again this Christmas? Prepare yourself with the facts for the next time your mother tries to tell you that you inherited your baldness from your father. It might sound like an intimidating subject, but you don’t have to have any previous experience in genetics and the focus is not only on the science – it’s on the social and personal side of genetics.

  • Enrolment: always open
  • Study time: self-paced, but students usually take between one and four weeks in total
  • Involves: watching videos, taking quizzes and assessments
  • Led by: Matthew Cook, postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco; Lauren Castellano, MA in experimental psychology from San Jose State University; Joanna Mountain, human geneticist with a PhD in genetics from Stanford University, currently Senior Director of 23andMe, a personal genetics company; Uta Francke, teacher in clinical and molecular genetics at University of California, Yale and Stanford, currently Senior Medical Director at 23andMe.

Get more information from Udacity.

If these haven’t whetted your appetite then you can look out for some more MOOCs hitting the web in early January 2014. The soon-to-launch FutureLearn out of the United Kingdom is offering courses on sustainability, branding, forensic science and the intriguing subject of ‘randomness, chance and free will’ early next year. Cornell is also set to start offering courses next semester and our very own University of Melbourne is making its MOOC debut with ‘discrete optimisation’ in March.

But for now, make the most of the silly season by seeing what it’s like to learn online. You might even find yourself signing up to get some more serious online qualifications in the new year. Just don’t get sand in your laptop this summer.




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