Coursera has changed my life. My husband calls me a MOOC junkie. For the uninitiated, MOOC’s are “Massive Open Online Courses” and for me when I decided I wanted to switch fields, they were a godsend. There a lot of them around now, but in my opinion, the best ones by far are:
For statistics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer science; these places can give you a great education for almost free. When I first started; about 18 months ago, they are all new and free. Coursera came out of Stanford, Udacity also from an ex-Stanford professor and edX by Harvard/MIT on the east coast. Interestingly enough, there have been free courses available online for a long time: Stanford Online, Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative , UC Berkeley’s lectures on YouTube, and MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW). But they never really caught on like Coursera and Udacity did. So some of the classes I have taken on Coursera, which I think have helped me in this new field:
About six months ago they offering “Certification Programs” in certain areas and Johns Hopkins University has a nine-course certification at $49 a course. Rice University offers a great certification called “Fundamentals in Computing” , which is all done using python. Their courses are quite challenging. EdX has some great courses too:
All the above courses, have a fixed schedule, like a regular class. You have assignments due every week, lectures to listen to, reading to do -so its not “self paced”. Some of the courses have been quite demanding and time consuming – but very rewarding. There are course projects that are then”peer assessed” based on a rubric that you are provided -its not perfect ; but it works rather well I think.
Udacity has a different model. They are “self paced”- they used to be free but a few months ago added a paid option where you can “check in” with a coach; and have your work reviewed. I thought they were a bit expensive ~$150/month. I prefer to be given deadlines that set them my self! They have a lot of Data Science courses as well.