2012. New ways of learning: CodeYear, Computer Science at Stanford, launch of M.I.Tx.

Next month I am taking a Computer Science course at Stanford. The course is free and part of their free online offering for 2012. I’ve also just signed up for Code Academy’s CodeYear, which on my joining had over 188,000 students, including Mayor Bloomberg, on its roll call.

Since I joined 48 hours ago, it’s up to 220,000 students.

It’s interesting to see how other friends and colleagues taking these courses have reached out, offering to act as a support service to each other.

When you don’t have a university formally organising you into classrooms, how else do you get help with topics you don’t quite get first time round? Who can you bounce ideas off?

It is clear there is a need arising for universities and education providers to expand on the delivery of their online learning materials. Beyond a student like me sitting at home listening to brilliant minds deliver lectures via YouTube, offering interaction through community is the next logical step to allow me to play with information, and augment new learnings through discussion.

Some organisations are hearing the call for community around education. Later this year MIT will launch MITx, online courses with an an interactive element.

Students using the program will be able to communicate with their peers through student-to-student discussions, allowing them an opportunity to ask questions or simply brainstorm with others, while also being able to access online laboratories and self-assessments. In the future, students and faculty will be able to control which classes will be available on the system based on their interests, creating a personalized education setting.” – See MIT’s full press release here.

Still, interactivity around online learning is just beginning.

In the meantime, grassroots learning models are emerging to plug that hole. We are taking collegiate-level classes together, online, through spaces like Open Course Ware and Academic Earth and then meeting, both in-person and over email to help each other out. I am really interested in where this patched-together, part self-organising/part formally-structured method of learning will go.

Could a new service emerge to pair local students for free in-person study sessions? Does that sound like the equivalent of the nerdiest book club, ever? Probably. But I’m cool with it 🙂

Coming from a communications background I’m pretty excited to learn what stands technically behind the business of the internet. I’m even more excited to experiment with a new way of learning.

Why don’t you join me?

Here Computer Science 101 or here Code Year

I want to be able to take course material and pull it apart, discuss it, question it and test it  – what better way to do it than with a collective?

7 thoughts on “2012. New ways of learning: CodeYear, Computer Science at Stanford, launch of M.I.Tx.

  1. I started and completed my B.A (Internet Studies) through Open Uni. Only once did I have to see someone face-to-face (it was an exam for an elective). Each unit had its own message board but there was no unifying space for those who were all studying towards the same degree at the same time. I ended up recognising some names across multiple units and we formed our own connections – mostly through email. Still friends with them now. 🙂 However, I’m not sure I would have achieved or learned as much without the peer-to-peer interaction that continued across units. It was a nuisance creating new connections in new units every 3 months.

    I’m taking #codeyear, too, so it would be great to engage with a small group of friends with whom I can share in exchange for some motivation! (Another use for Yammer? 😉

    That said, I wonder how effective it is in large numbers. Can a learning group get too big? Moving along at the same pace and being at the same level is important, I think.

    1. Hey Greg! Fascinating insight into being a student at Open Uni. I still find it amazing the community aspect is largely under-utilised, or not more easily facilitated. Thinking about your last comment I’d agree that pace is important, but it’s also nice to have experts who are willing to jump in and assist (like “that old friend” you call up that took the course last semester)…this could be one of the advantages of an open community over traditional learning communities where all Year X students are bundled together. You are totally on point with Yammer! There’s definitely potential for using it to supplement the course. We do this already for learning practices at Yammer. For our new employees, we have a separate external network – “YammerVersity” – which allows them to go through the onboarding process and further skills training both in-person and inside a social network – it’s especially useful with employees scattered across the globe, like us over here in time-zone challenged Aus who can’t be physically in the meeting room all the time! There are some employees taking the same Computer Science course I am in February and we are going to share notes and experiences via a group inside Yammer. It seems like it might be an opportune time to experiment with an external Yammer network for Code Year, open to anyone who resonates with this post…

  2. In the time of ubiquitous social networks don’t we all have a personal forum now? You’ve already tweeted and blogged and found your group – what else is needed beyond that?

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