Massive Open Online Courses

Here is an interesting infographic about MOOCs: Massive Open Online Classes. I am a teacher myself, but I know that most of my students learn a lot from YouTube videos, where people explain how they play a certain song on their guitar or keyboard.
So, I jumped on the bandwagon and put some instruction videos online at a special vimeo-account. But it is not enough; my students still have to attend my lessons and pass their tests in my classroom.
I subscribed to the Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Class, taught by Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun, and I finished the course with reasonable success – 74 %. Then I subscribed to other courses, but it is hard to create time to study as much as I should. So: halfway my course Machine Learning by Andrew Ng at Coursera I had to quit. The good news however is that I can finish the course later, because the videos and the programming exercises are are still there (I’ve downloaded them to my computer). Of course I can’t earn points for it, but that doesn’t matter to me: it’s about learning. When you’re at my age you don’t need the competition to perform.:-)
Now I’m following Thrun’s “Introduction to Statistics” at Udacity. A lot of this stuff was already tackled at his AI-Class, and of course I learned the basics of statistics at Khan Academy. But the better part of this slow-paced course are the optional programming exercises. This is where I failed during Machine Learning, so I hope, when I’m a bit more experienced with coding, I can resume this course later.
For the next few months I signed up for the following courses: “Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computation”, “Neuroethics”, “Introduction to Analytic Combinatorics, Part I” and “Probabilistic Graphical Models”. Will I find the time to complete all these courses? Having a family, a demanding job as a teacher, a lot of free-lance work as a musician and a self-made webmaster of over thirteen websites? Scalable Living might be the answer.
So, for me, MOOCs are great. The courses are free, so even if I succeed for only 50% I’ve learned and earned a lot more than when I give up in advance. I can choose my own time and my own pace. The only problem is: there are so many interesting courses, and you can’t have all the candy in the store. So, I’ll have to learn to confine myself – there is no online course for that.

Mars in Second Life!

In an earlier post I mentioned that I would be interested in a Mars-simulation in Second Life. Today I was flying around in 2l, not knowing what to do. So I followed a railway, passively looking out for a nice scenery that might pop up. And there it was: Mars, hanging in the sky.


You can see the Grand Canyon of Mars!

But, it is not what I am thinking of: my plan is to sript a complete simulation of a Mars-like environment, where you can try out how it is to live on Mars, including living in a habitat, growing your own food in a greenhouse and having to deal with all hazards of the Martian atmosphere.


Mars in Active Worlds

Second Life is there to simulate the real world. It could be nice to simulate life on other worlds too, e.g. life on Mars. Thus far I didn’t find such a simulation in 2L, so i looked in another MMORPG, Active Worlds. I logged in as guest and visited the Mars sim there. Here it is:

It was only the red scenery that made me thinking about Mars, but it is not a real simulation. For me that would mean that also the laws of gravity and all the hazards of life on Mars are simulated. Unfortunately I’m not good at scripting, so I can’t do it myself. But I still think it can be done, so i will look further.