Tag Archives: Coursera

Online Courses and How They Relate to My Writing

A year ago, I started doing online courses through Coursera, and soon after that, Future Learn.  I did so many in the first half of the year, I found myself burning out a bit.  I then took a break.  But I’ve started up again, and just finished my first one in a while.  I have four coming up over the next six months.

But why I’m taking them you may ask.  It’s really about two things: personal interest and research for writing.  Let’s look at the courses I’m going to do and what I just finished.

What a Plant Knows is an interesting plant biology course that has given me insights into how a plant interacts with its environment.  This course will help me with the development of plants on Ariadne.

Elements of Renewable Energy begins next week.  I’m interested in this course because of both personal interest and research.  On Ariadne, they will be seeking sources of renewable energy for electricity, and I think this will help give me an overview.  It may or may not show me anything new, but I think it’ll be interesting.

World War I: Aviation Comes of Age begins next month.  This is mainly personal interest, as I have an interest in aviation.  However, it may help me a bit with the development of new types of aircraft on Ariadne.

The Emergence of the Modern Middle East begins in March.  I’m interested in this course because it shows about the recent history of a very unstable region in the world.  This will help me with researching about international relations, as well as development of regional politics and conflict.  These themes will be important later on in Ariadne, as well as in any fantasy writing I do.

Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier begins in June.  This will be interesting for future fantasy writing I do.  History is a good thing to study if I want to write fantasy, as many elements of history can help me develop civilisations that are similar to ancient Earth civilisations.

Of course, this is only one way to do research.  How do you prefer to do research for your writing?  Please leave your comment below.

Ending My Study Break

As many of you may know, I’d been taking several online courses through Coursera and FutureLearn.  However, I’ve let six courses go by without me even touching them.  I’ve done a bit of housekeeping and removed myself from those courses.  I now have two courses that have just started, and I’m thinking about getting to work on them.  They don’t seem very intensive, so that’s good.

There’s one course I started in the summer than I still have an interest in, and that’s about the time of Richard III.  It looks like I can actually continue to go through the course.  So, I will do that.

I also need to go through future courses to see what’s interesting for the new year.  The courses I dropped may be available again next year, so I’ll see about them.  But this time around, I’ll make sure I don’t enroll in too many courses at once.  I think I burned myself out.

Another Casualty of War

It was kind of appropriate that I was studying this course, and I can now call it a casualty.  The Paradoxes of War course held at Coursera and created by Princeton University proved to be too much.  I was already 4 weeks behind because of other courses, and it turned out many of the videos were so long, I’d have to spend an incredible amount of time watching them.  So, I’ve stopped that course.

I am, however, working on the Richard III course, which is quite interesting.  I’m also starting the French Revolution course this week, so I’m doing very specific aspects of both British and French history, both of them involving major wars (the War of the Roses and the French Revolution).  These are the only two courses I’ll be doing through the summer, and no new courses until September.  This is a good thing.  It’ll give me a lot more time to concentrate on my writing.

One more thing that may be a casualty this month is What Will You Write?  No submissions so far, and it’s been nearly a week.  Camp NaNoWriMo has people quite busy these days, including me.  I’m thinking of postponing the current round until August, so it won’t take anyone away from the camp.  And once the new month starts, it should be much fresher for everyone.  Any thoughts?

More Class Culling

I’ve gotten so far behind in the Diversity of Exoplanets online course that I’m going to be cutting it.  Honestly, there’s not much that’s new, since I’ve already done two exoplanet courses.  What’s special about this one is that it’s taught by the exoplanet experts, the ones who have discovered so many at the University of Geneva.  Oh well.  The lecture videos are so long and there are so many that it would take up too much of my time.  I’ll take it again if it’s offered again next year.

I’ll be finishing the Ecosystems course tonight, as all I have left to do is the test.  It’s been interesting and fairly useful, particularly the parts dealing with biodiversity and conservation.  I’ll also finish the Archaeology of Portus course in the next couple days.  I’ve found that this course was very useful to me for worldbuilding.  Understanding the past is very important.

I have one ongoing course that I haven’t even touched, the Paradoxes of War.  However, I don’t want to quit this one.  I’ll just watch the videos.  I have about 3 weeks to get caught up, so that’s okay.  Next week, I start the Richard III course, which should be useful in understanding what society was like back then.  And next month, I’ll start a course on the French Revolution.  I also think that’ll be useful to me.  So, lots of history courses going on, which is great for developing cultures in speculative fiction.

No new courses until the end of summer after these.  I need to spend more time actually writing than doing courses.  I’ll conserve my time.

Crazy Busy Student Life

I work full time.  I also try to write as much as I can.  But now it’s like I’m a full time student.  As of this week, I am studying 6 online courses at once.  I must be crazy.

The last time I studied 6 courses at the same time was in my second year of university.  I took 6 courses both semesters after transferring from one university to another.  Some of my courses didn’t transfer, even though I was told they would.  I had to take them again.  It was an incredibly busy time, including one day that was 13 hours long, from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm.  On my first day of that schedule, I’d caught a pretty bad cold, and it was a rainy January day.  I felt awful, but it was the first day of my lab sessions, which I could not be absent from.  They were mandatory, as they were orientations to give us all of the information we needed for the semester.  I’m pretty sure I crashed in bed when I got home.

But now, I have 6 online courses to do.  These include:

  • Start Writing Fiction – I have 3 weeks to go in this one.
  • Introduction to Ecosystems – 4 weeks to go in this.
  • Archaeology of Portus – 4 weeks to go in this fascinating course about Rome’s ancient port.
  • Diversity of Exoplanets – I’ve just started this, and I can thankfully fall behind, as everything is due in mid-July.  It’s 6 weeks long.
  • Paradoxes of War – Just started today, and I have yet to look at it. It’s 8 weeks long.
  • Organic Solar Cells – Starts tomorrow and lasts until mid-July.

So, am I crazy?

Getting Busy with Studying

For a short time, I was doing only one online course.  Now, I’m doing three.  Within two weeks, I’ll be doing six at one time.  Time to get busy.

This week, I finished week 4 of Start Writing Fiction at FutureLearn, so I’m halfway done that one.  But I also started two more this week at FutureLearn, Introduction to Ecosystems and Archaeology of Portus.  I’ve already finished the first week of the ecosystems course.  So, I’m doing courses on writing, biology, and archaeology right now.

Next week, I start one course on Coursera, The Diversity of Exoplanets.  The following week, I start two more courses, Paradoxes of War and Organic Solar Cells on Coursera.

Six courses seems a bit much.  I can cope with three no problem.  The writing course finishes within two weeks of my fifth and sixth courses starting.  But another starts at the end of June, and one at the beginning of July.  But many of the courses I’m starting now finish around that time, anyway.  So it’ll be a quieter July and August.

I finished the Moons and Imagining Other Earths courses earlier this month.  I received 93% on the Moons course.  I finally received my final grade in the Dinosaur Palaeobiology course.  100%!  That feels good.

Now, I think I’ll get to work on the Portus course today and maybe get ahead on the writing course today and tomorrow.

In Over My Head?

I think I may have given myself too much to do.  Last week, I was working on two online courses.  I’m now on three.  I’ll be finishing two, though.  Then I have two more starting on May 19th.  And one on May 26th.  And one on June 1st.  And one on June 2nd.  That’s right, six courses all at once!

So, the first one is Start Writing Fiction at FutureLearn.  It started two days ago.  I’m absolutely going to do this, and I can even work on Journey to Ariadne with this MOOC.  The ones that start on May 19th are Introduction to Ecosystems and Archaeology of Portus, both on FutureLearn.  The ecosystems course will be extremely useful for worldbuilding and developing Ariadne.  The Portus course is more of a personal interest course, though as it is about the major ancient Roman port, it could be useful.  The week after, I start The Diversity of Exoplanets on Coursera.  Some of this may be a rehash of courses I’ve already taken, but I’ll see.  However, it was one of the first courses I signed up for.  In June, I start Paradoxes of War at Coursera, which may be useful as a study of how and why wars happen.  This can be useful for my writing.  Finally, there’s a course on Organic Solar Cells at Coursera. This just seemed interesting to me.

If I drop any, it’ll likely be Organic Solar Cells.  When will I have the time for all of these?

Any of these courses interest you?

Dino 101 Completed

I’ve finished my second Coursera course!  Dino 101 was offered by the University of Alberta, which I attended for my first year of university.  Dr. Philip Currie is one of the instructors, and he is one of the top dinosaur palaeontologists in the world.

This course doesn’t actually end for another two weeks, but I completed it ahead of time, as we’re allowed to go at our own pace.  I found this course quite informative, even though it was an introductory course to palaeontology.  I knew a lot of what was taught, but I did find out plenty of new things, too.

I sometimes wonder what it would’ve been like to study palaeontology at university instead of physics and astronomy.  I nearly did.  I found my geology courses at the U of A fascinating.  Makes me miss university.

Anyway, I have another course starting in a couple days on Future Learn, and that’s called Moons.  I’m looking forward to it.

My First Certificate from Coursera

Well, here it is.  I got my first certificate from an online university course I took at Coursera.  Take a look:

Looks pretty, but doesn’t really mean much.

So, what does this mean?  It means I finished a course with distinction.  That means I achieved more than 85% in the course in my quizzes (92.5% to be exact).  The certificate doesn’t really mean much, though.  It’s not official.  But it’s nice to get one.

Studying and Nostalgia

As I work through my online courses at Coursera, I recall my days at university.  What triggered these memories is equations being used in the Imagining Other Earths course.  It really brings back memories of using equations everyday.

Another thing that’s been making me nostalgic is the amount of geology I’ve been exposed to in all 3 courses I’ve done.  When I was in university, I took a couple geology courses in my first year, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  It makes me think that if I ever go back to university, I’d study geology.

Another thing I’ve started doing is studying languages.  At duolingo, I’ve been working on French mainly, and it made me realise how much I’ve forgotten.  I also started on Spanish, and I will work on German as well.

Anyone else doing Coursera or other MOOC courses?  How about duolingo?