Saturday, 31 January 2015

Keep on Learning...

I have a fascination for learning new things and miss the academic environment of higher education. Over the past 15 years I have taken a number of distance learning courses ranging from Ornithology and Wildlife First Aid to Photography and GIS.

This year however I have discovered the even greater wealth of courses available on the internet. I had already sampled some of the wildlife options but when I was asked to provide some information on MOOC's (Massive Open Online Course) for our Sixth Form students I stumbled upon first EdX which is an amazing site and Coursera.

Coursera engaged my interest immediately with one particular course Dino 101 - Dinosaur Palaeobiology.
For the past 12 months or more I have been an avid listener of the Tetrapod Zoology Podcast ,  a brilliant mix of humour, comment and information on all things tetrapod. Their chat renewed my love of Zoology and my early interests in early animals, especially vertebrates. Dino 101 was the perfect course.

Dino 101 is a verified course run through Coursera from the University of Alberta. The course covers the physiology, evolution and extinction of the Dinosaur. The course is taught via a series of lectures that contain video lectures, interactive collections and quizzes.

The course is led by Professor Philip Currie a paleontologist of some note ably assisted by some research student. The course doesn't feel like learning at all and you can take it was seriously as you want. As I took it as verified course I treated it as a proper course and wrote up notes and did extra reading, but you could easily complete the course with the material provided.

Designed to be taken over 12 weeks at your own speed I was particularly eager and managed to complete a lesson a day finishing in under a fortnight. I have now started to teach myself Mammalian Evolutionary Theory before a second coursera course on Statistics begins in March.

I can highly recommend both Coursera and Dino 101. So why not broaden your horizons and learn something new today.