Online Courses – An Alternative Learning Experience

It’s always good to learn something new, but given that you have your full-time job, family, social life, and other stuff that occupy your time, taking up a short course with a concrete schedule can be inconvenient if not unfeasible for your day-to-day routine. Luckily, there’s another option that can fit with your busy lifestyle. There are online courses both free and paid that are more flexible to handle. I’ve tried a few courses, and I like the learning experience so far.

Flexible Schedule

Online courses give you the freedom to have your own schedule. Take the lesson when you can. You can even go through more than one module if you feel you’re on-the-roll. You can repeat a module as many times as you like, so you don’t have to worry about having any time constraints if you’re having a hard time grasping a particular topic. A module can contain a video, audio, or reading material, with other external references if applicable. The content is also available through a tie-up mobile application, so you can access your lessons on-the-go. Take note though, don’t place long gaps in between your study sessions, or you’ll end up not retaining what you’ve learned. All skills take regular practice to master or at least to acquire progress.

Sample course page from Coursera

Sample course page from Coursera

Discussions and Consultations

Like a formal class, you can consult the instructor either by sending him/her a private message or posting a comment to a particular module. Each of them has different availability of schedule, but as far as my experience goes, they really respond to queries as much as possible. Some take a day or two, while others will reply after a week. Either way, this is a great option for further learning the course and find more applications based on your current circumstance. You can also post discussions that are open to fellow students. Their inputs are sometimes as valuable as the instructors’. You can also follow their questions so that you’ll get notified if it receives a response. Based on these student reactions, instructors tend to update the course for modifications and additional content, and you don’t have to pay for these changes. You’ll be notified for such instances if you’re enrolled in the course, even if you already finished it.

Stack Social offers bundles for online courses ala Humble Bundle

Stack Social offers bundles for online courses ala Humble Bundle

Certificate of Completion

I really love the fact that you’ll get an online certificate for the completion of the course. It’s available online so you can include it in your credentials if you want.  Courses are tracked based on the modules that you completed. Mostly, there’s an audio or video that you have to go through per module. Finishing the media will mark the module as complete, but that is not required. You have the option to skip the lesson (marking it complete) just in case you already know the topic. There’s no strict monitoring from the instructors. You’ll decide if you can proceed with the next module. Even if you cheated, it will be your loss. Here’s a sample of my certificate for a course that I completed in Udemy.

My certificate for completing the course “Become A Super Learner” from Udemy

Thanks to online courses, you don’t need to be frustrated to learn a new hobby or add skills for your career and lifestyle advancement. However, take note that even if they are flexible, they still require discipline. Again, you will need to follow through regularly to make sure you retain the stuff that you just learned. If you’re ready to take your first course, you can go ahead and try the sites like Coursera and Udemy. There’s also StackSocial, which gives bundles to a collection of Udemy courses for significantly discounted prices. You can also subscribe to the sites’ newsletters for the latest deals. Enjoy! (~^_^)~

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Things I Want to Learn for 2015

My renaissance soul is always craving for something new to learn, and this year is no exception. Whether it’s something to increase my proficiency in my chosen field or something that I want to emulate from amazing people, I always make sure that the year won’t end without adding something new in my skill set. As Irish novelist Michael Scott once said, The Day We Stop Learning is the Day We Die, so I will continue to live and build a better me. Here are some of the stuff that I want to learn this year.

Speed Reading

Spreeder - an online tool for practicing speed reading. http://www.spreeder.com/app.php

Spreeder – an online tool for practicing speed reading.
http://www.spreeder.com/app.php

Regardless of the type of book, I’m not really fond of reading for several hours. I feel envious of my friends who can finish more than a hundred books in a year. Given that I give less time for such activity, might as well utilize what I have. I’m more into informative books (software development, self-help, etc.) so it takes more effort to process the information, making my pace slower. With this, I considered trying Speed Reading. The ability to read at the average of 600 words per minute will be a lot useful for my continuous consumption of new knowledge. It doesn’t promise a 100% comprehension of the material, which is quite a low for me given that I have a bunch of new concepts to tackle, but I’m taking my chances anyway. If it doesn’t work for me, then time to find another alternative or find some way to increase my time for reading.

Last December, I availed a speed reading course in Udemy for a big discount. It’s my ideal setup since it’s an online course, so I have full control of my training schedule. Just like any useful skill, it takes a significant amount of effort to master. The practice exercises need to be done everyday for several minutes a day. It’s barely two weeks since I started so I can’t claim that I’m already seeing some results, but I’m hopeful that I’ll see some progress soon.

Options for Passive Income

Cashflor Board Game - mobile version. Image from - http://play.google.com

Cashflor Board Game – mobile version.
Image from – http://play.google.com

One of the valuable things I learned from Cashflow board game is the importance of having a passive income. It’s not saving that will get you to financial freedom, but producing passive income that will exceed your expenses. I know a bit about stocks, mutual funds, and UITF, but not familiar enough that I can invest without too much worrying. As I grow older, I’m becoming more and more frustrated on getting rich, so might as well explore the options on how to upgrade my finances and lifestyle WITHOUT sacrificing the job that I want to do (i.e. game development).

I’m having a really hard time pursuing a financial venture that I’m not passionate about, no matter how lucrative it is, so as much as possible, I’m for something that can be gamified in some way. Heck, I even have a design for a game that will try to improve one’s personal finances. I’m aware that regardless of the option, there’s no fast and easy way to such path, but at the very least, I’ll take risks to a field that can really pique my interest.

Aerial Flips

Being a big fan of Martial Arts Movies, I always wanted to learn how to do those fascinating acrobatics, especially the back flip. Part of my bucket list is to direct an indie action movie someday, so I need all the skills I can get to be an action star, or at least to train some action star LOL. Other than it’s impressive to watch, it will push my physical capabilities to the limit, and that’s good since I want to age gracefully.

Last September, I enrolled to Ninja Academy for a training in Tricking. I’m learning more stuff than I expected, and I’m enjoying the session despite the demand for physical endurance. I’m on the preliminary training of back flip now, and I know it will take some time to actually do this specific trick, but I’m not in a rush. After all, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it right?

Advance Techniques in Guitar

Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

Lesson Screen for Rocksmith 2014

I’ve been playing guitar for several years now but only in a casual manner. I described it as such since I never went through any formal training, and I still don’t know the advance techniques. I will need this more than before since I’m now part of the band. Good thing my bandmates are well-versed musicians so they know how to guide me accordingly.

When I started playing Rocksmith, I discovered the bad habits that I developed when playing the said instrument. Thank goodness, this game had all the features in a progressive and comprehensive manner that I know what to do next. It even has its wide library of songs for practice. This will provide more options for our band’s cover performances.

Advance Concepts of Mobile Game Analytics

After working on Dragon Snack, I learned the basics of implementing an analytics engine to observe the players’ behavior and other game parameters. It’s such a useful tool, but it introduces several terms and concepts that run deep beneath the surface. Having my own dream of making it big as an indie developer, it will be helpful to utilize the capabilities of the analytics engine to improve my games and hopefully pull more players in turn.

I have my eyes on the Udemy courses for analytics just in case it lands on sale again. I’m willing to wait since I still have a handful of courses at my disposal anyway, and I don’t want to suffer a burnout from studying a lot of stuff.

Whew! A lot of stuff to learn for the entire year. In the end, it all revolves in my aim to improve my quality of life and be a better person than I am now. How about you guys? What new things are you planning to explore for 2015? Whatever it is, I hope you’ll achieve your goals and move forward with the sense of accomplishment. Happy New Year and cheers for our future success! (~^_^)~