Free online courses

There’s some interesting free open courses from places like and

There’s plenty of courses ranging from critical thinking, economics, physics and biology to engineering and maths etc.

You guys know of more places like these perhaps?

iTunes university has a bunch of stuff for free, you can download and listen to lectures,
but obviously you don’t enroll any where and get any sort of qualification, so just for self enrichment

In terms of market share, the biggest ones are Coursera, that you mention above, Udacity, and EdX

Time to go see the optician again. I was puzzled why you folk should be interested in witchcraft of the malicious incantation variety, until I opened a link: free courses, then, not curses. ::slight_smile: :-X


FWIW I delved into some of the MIT courses (math and electronic engineering) a while ago and they’re very good. Man, how I wish my lecturers were that approachable, clear, pragmatic, etc. In another life, were my parents more wealthy, I would’ve jumped at any chance to attend that place.

I did a curse in computer programming once. It was when I realized that some modes of thought are beyond me. :slight_smile:

How long ago, and which programming language(s)?

I doubt your self-assessment, though. If you can break the solution to a problem down into elementary steps the way you might solve a puzzle or a maths problem, you have what it takes to program. I suspect your self-assessment is mostly the result of an enormous quantity of abstraction that has occurred in programming, plus the baffling jargon in which it comes wrapped. Things like object-oriented programming and event-driven programming are profoundly mystifying when you’re expected to start essentially from scratch. Coming from a background firmly steeped in procedural programming (i.e. the way programming first began), it took me a good long time to get my head around those newer concepts. At the beginning, it was very much a case of “monkey see, monkey do.”


Not to put anyone down, or contradict Mefi’s assertions…

But I used to tutor programming to HS kids, and found there is the odd individual who cannot fathom even the simplest of programming concepts. Despite hours of personal attention, countless explanations, examples, etc. etc. and yet others seem to grasp it almost instantly (having had no prior experience).

One dude, after exhausting all other explanatory avenues. I sat down and tried to explain variables using physical lego blocks, over and over… Even that failed.

I will be willing to concede I could’ve just been the wrong teacher for the wrong pupil, but this experience has me thinking that there are people who are just not wired that way. Or whom have been completely failed by our education system. … who knows?

My view: It probably has a lot to do with mathematical ability. Nature, nurture… etc.

  1. Sony Betamax. >:D


I think I fall into that class. :slight_smile:
To answer Mefiante’s question, I did a course or two in Pascal, and then some Java, as part of a Unisa diploma, the title of which I cannot remember anymore and which I never completed. Couldn’t make head or tails of either. I scraped through some courses, mind you, but quit on some of the others before I could fail. :slight_smile:

Some concepts, notably recursion, I just never could get my head around. More accurately, I understood much of the stuff in principle, but could never manage to write any algorithms that actually worked, couldn’t work out why they didn’t work, and couldn’t understand where I went wrong even when someone pointed out the errors.

Mind you, some years later, while working night shifts in a blood lab, I sometimes had time on hand, so I started playing around with JavaScript, and used it to create a little program that tests mental arithmetic skills such as tables, addition and subtraction. But I fear that was the high point of my abortive journey towards becoming the next Alan Turing.

The funny thing is, when it comes to mathematics, the little I do manage to wrap my head around, I find very beautiful. I would have loved to make a career out of it. It’s in fact the frustration of my entire existence that the only things I am genuinely interested in are also ones for which I have no talent.

Now in visual art, which is my current hobby, I can of course get away without talent by simply pretending to be “modern.” If Damien Hirst can run that scam, then so can I, dammit! :smiley:

Speaking of which, at the school where I work, I have been charged with doing the visual arts component of the kids’ arts and culture curriculum. Oh, the horror: I finally got to see the textbooks yesterday, and it’s the most trite, contentless crapola imaginable. So now I have little choice but to invent three new curricula for three different grades, and write three textbooks this year. Thanks again, education department, for yet another sterling job.

At least I work for a private school where I can actually do this. In a state school I’d have been stuck with the official curriculum…

Hahaha, another category of stuff I never could master: technology.

True what you say about our competencies sometimes being out of sync with our passions. I love chess, for example, and enjoy playing on line. Thanks to lots of games against several international opponents, I’m proud to say that I now win almost half my games over at