Today, I wrote the final exam of my second course on Coursera. The course was titled – “A Brief History of Humankind” and I don’t think I’ve ever taken a more important course than this one, so much so, that I am almost compelled to write this post so that anyone who might be interested in the course but doesn’t know about it can be helped in a way if this post reach him/her.
The first course that I had completed earlier was titled – “An Introduction to Operations Management” and was equally interesting for me. It was very specific to what I wanted to in future. After completing it, I really felt encouraged to learn as much as I can from the site, so I signed up for many other courses, but then it wasn’t easy to take out time for more than 1 course at a time. I really wanted to do things properly and didn’t want to rush through them for the sake of completing the course. So, I un-enrolled out of all the courses except for the course on History. It was a right decision as this second course on history was altogether a different adventure.
Before I go any further, if you’ve not heard about Coursera, this is what they have to say about themselves –
We believe in connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits.
Coursera is an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Our technology enables our partners to teach millions of students rather than hundreds.
We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far been available to a select few. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.
Coursera hit a milestone of 100 partner institutions, 500 courses, and 5 million students in 2013. You can read the founder’s views on future of online education on this blog post and their journey of last 2 years here on this post.
I felt really good about the fact that I was able to take these online courses without having to pay a single coin and are still these courses are taught by some of the best professors available in the world on the respective topics. I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that MOOCs are one of the best gifts of internet to the world. What’s a MOOC, you ask? MOOC stands for a Massive Open Online Course. O’yes, Coursera is not the only place where you can learn almost anything for free, there are more sites and the numbers are growing. Although, Coursera is really the biggest thing that’s there right now.
I will now briefly share the details of the two courses I’ve completed so far –
An Introduction to Operations Management – This course was taken by Prof. Christian Terwiesch. He teaches Operations and Information Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The course had 90,000 student enrollment. The keywords that were discussed during the course were – Bottleneck, Little’s Law, Inventory, Waiting Time, Six Sigma. I ended up scoring high on the course, so it was a very good experience for me, though I’ve forgotten the formulas now after 6 months, but I can always refer to the notes and video lectures from the course. Here is my Statement of Accomplishment for the course which is also visible in my linkedin profile, nicely done by Coursera team!
A Brief History of Humankind – This course was taken by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari. He lectures at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The course starts off from about 200 thousand years ago when humans had just started evolving from apes and there were atleast 6 different human species including the sapiens. From that point which arguably is the oldest point in human history, the course moves forward covering every possible milestone we’ve had till present day. What’s more interesting is that the lectures are not just about listing the facts and dates of important events, they make you question things that most of us had taken for granted. When you are covering so much of history, there can be parts which you’d like to skip but Dr. Harrari is such a brilliant storyteller, he would keep you attentive all the time. Also, I really appreciate the depth and wide scope of his knowledge, during his explanation of historical cases/events, he could link them with scientific and psychological theories almost as if he’s an expert in all the 3 areas. I even ended up scoring a perfect score in all the exams/quizzes, but the questions were very easy, you wouldn’t have any problems with them as well. Here is the course syllabus briefing about all the lectures, this one comes highly recommended!
Well, that’s it from my side. You should now be heading over to the Coursera site to choose what you’d like to learn and enroll for..