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Course Review: Introduction to Philosophy

 

David Hume's statements on ethics foreshadowed...

David Hume’s statements on ethics foreshadowed those of 20th century emotivists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Provider: University of Edinburgh at Coursera [course page]
Lecturer: Various (one per week)
Subject: Humanities / Philosophy
Delivery: Self-paced Synchronous study
Recommended Load: 1-2 hours / week for 7 weeks
Completion Date: 03/17/2014

Description: Seven lecturers teach us some of the history of philosophy, as well as discuss the various considerations of philosophers. It shows how relevant philosophical thought is in dealing with some of the more important issues, such as ethics and how to think scientifically.

Strengths: A different lecturer provides lectures for each week. I found this variety of topics showcased the various areas that philosophers deal with. We also get a glimpse of some more obscure philosophical specializations, such as time travel as discussed by Dr. Alasdair Richmond in the final week. The shorter topical videos help break up the topics into manageable lengths for ease of watching and note-taking. The in-video questions helped me evaluate my own understanding of the material in a timely manner.
Weaknesses: None!

Conclusion: The course gives students some insight into what philosophers do and at the same time gives some excellent tools for everyday life. The variety of the material shows just how much value an understanding of some basic philosophical tools can have in dealing with everyday problems as well. All in all, I highly recommend this course for anyone that would like to understand how human beings have approached problem-solving has changed over the centuries, as well as how they might improve the way in which they look at problems themselves.

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World of Keiko 03/05/2014

As some of you have noticed, I haven’t posted much over the past three months. Yes, I have been slack. Christmas was surprisingly relaxed, with hubby and I preparing our first Christmas dinner with his family accompanied by some Saturday Night Live episodes and the first of the new Star Trek movies. It was a good time and we both learned some new recipes from my mother-in-law. Tasty noms!

WRITING
In other news, I haven’t written in ages. I keep mulling over a plot problem for one book idea and it has led to me not writing at all. I am not particularly worried as I believe that I am close to a solution to the problem. Here’s hoping another problem doesn’t crop up and that my efforts in problem-solving so far can produce a more logical and enjoyable book.

COMPUTER GAMING
I have been primarily playing Marvel Heroes of late, with nearly a full roster of heroes due to farming eternity splinters. My most recent random hero box gave me Nightcrawler, but I haven’t played him yet due to focusing on leveling Ms. Marvel. Yes, I do enjoy playing her.  No, I will not give you my account. Make an account, install the game, play it and purchase some STASH slots to support Gazillion. The recent content has offered lots of shiny things for players and most weekends there is some sort of promotion. Best of all, they don’t focus on one country. For example, there was an Australia Day weekend, a Mardi Gras weekend and a week for Chinese New Year. It has this multicultural appeal that I really dig! For those interested, the MAC version of Marvel Heroes is currently in beta testing. Head on over to the website for more information.
I purchased quite a few new games on steam over the past few months. These treasures include Trine, Trine 2, Shadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor. These four were available in a bundle for a kickass special during Christmas, but are currently available for around the same special if anyone is interested in adding a few new titles to their games library. There is a bunch of other great games on special at Steam currently as well, such as Need for Speed: Shift and Medal of Honor for $4.99 each. I probably wont be purchasing any new games for a bit unless there are some decent specials for some of the games remaining on my wishlist or until I have put some more time in on playing some of the games library titles that I haven’t as yet played.

EXERCISE
My right ankle is still healing, but I’ve been doing some strengthening work on it via our spin bike. I am really glad that we have the spin bike as it allows me to watch some lectures while exercising. It is surprisingly enjoyable.

EDUCATION
I put study on hold for two months around Christmas, but I am now back in the full swing of things. I finished a MOOC last week and posted the review a few minutes before I started typing this entry. Inside Cancer was pretty freaking awesome. I had to drop a few courses I mistakenly enrolled in before Christmas and would have started around this time, but feel really good about the coursework that I am currently studying:

As you might have noted, I am enrolled in some courses from different fields. It is my goal to be well-read and well-informed so that I can offer informed dialogue in a variety of subjects or at least be able to follow conversations on certain subject matter. I’d also like to be educated so that if hubby and I start a family I can facilitate the learning process. And if I gain mastery over certain subject matter, it might improve employment opportunities.
I have a few other courses starting soon, but should be able to deal with the workload due to at two of my current courses finishing soon.

***

That is all of the news that I can think of at present. I am going to grab a quick before chores, study and exercise. After that, Marvel Heroes and/or some other game/s.


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Course Review: Inside Cancer

Provider: FutureLearn (UK) [course page]
Lecturer: Dr Momna Hejmadi
Subject: Science / Medicine / Biology / Genetics
Delivery: Self-paced Synchronous study
Recommended Load: 3 hours / week for 6 weeks
Completion Date: 03/02/2014

Description: Dr Momna Hejmadi and a team of health professionals discuss the nature of cancer, treatment and role that genetics plays in both.

Strengths: Dr Momna Hejmadi and the team deliver a bunch of really informative lectures and articles on the problem of cancer placing a focus on genetics due to the important role that genetics plays in the development and treatment of cancer. The materials are excellent, staying on track and avoiding lingering on elements too long. This helps with pacing and keeps the material interesting throughout the course. While the staff are careful not to overwhelm the student with information beyond an introductory level, the student is encouraged throughout the course to learn more by way of links to interesting resources, with some mild prompting to learn about the medical programs at The University of Sheffield at the end. Some biology knowledge is quite helpful in understanding some of the concepts but not enough to trouble the student.
Weaknesses: None.

Conclusion: Dr Momna Hejmadi and the team do a wonderful job of making this often difficult subject accessible to students. As mentioned above, the way in which the concepts are covered helps with keeping the course moving forward and making the material genuinely interesting for students. I highly recommend that folks enrol in future intakes of this course as it is worth the time and effort spent watching the videos, reading the articles and going over the other resources. And more importantly is the relevance of a course such as this in understanding the role that genetics plays in the treatment of a host of illnesses.

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Course Review: Developing in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 Jump Start

Provider: MVA [course page]
Lecturer: Jeremy Foster and Michael Palermo
Subject: Computer Science / Programming / Software Development
Delivery: Self-paced, Asynchronous study
Completion Date: 11/29/2013

Description: Jeremy Foster and Michael Palermo bring the first day of a two-day intense training webinar on using HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript to create applications. They use tools such as Visual Studio coupled by the CodeShow project at CodePlex to provide working examples to demonstrate the numerous things being discussed. The six modules are broken up into two videos of between 19 and 35 minutes in length, with a self-assessment test and a pdf of the slides once you succeed in the test. [N.B. This is a condensed version of a normally 5-day training seminar.]

Strengths: One of the things that I have noticed about many of the MVA-specific events is a tendency to use light humour as a ice-breaker and to facilitate learning within the educational environment. This course is no different, with the humour also reducing the exhaustion of this recording of a day-long live event. The material was not only face-paced, but was coupled with some great examples that made it really easy to make sense of most of the material. I also found myself seeing a real use for some of the in-built functions for the sections Javascript.

Weaknesses:

Conclusion: I have done some mild self-paced study on Javascript, but this course managed to answer some of my lingering questions regarding some aspects of the prototype-oriented programming language. The lecturers were personable chaps and the material made easy to understand by the manner in which it was taught. If you did the HTML5 & CSS3 Fundamentals: Development for Absolute Beginners course I reviewed a while back, then I think you will find Developing in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 Jump Start course a great supplement to the material that Bob Tabor discussed. It is also great preparation for a certification exam. I recommend this course for anyone with some HTML5 and CSS3 as well as some Javascript under their belt, that is looking to add a little bit extra to their toolkit. Given the use of Visual Studio in the example, you might take a liking to the software and decide to give the express version a run.

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Course Review: TCP, HTTP and SPDY Deep Dive

 

State diagram of Transmission Control Protocol...

State diagram of Transmission Control Protocol (TCP); the image file uses a small hand-crafted color palette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Provider: Udemy [course page]
Lecturer: Ivan Pepelnjak
Subject: Computer Science / Networking
Delivery: Self-paced, Asynchronous study
Completion Date: 11/29/2013

 

Description: Ivan Pepelnjak discusses ways to improve load times of your website by looking at developer tools and the ways in which different browsers load content.

 

Strengths: Ivan Pepelnjak has been teaching this subject professionally for several years now, and has the know-how to get students from point a to point b quickly. As this listing is the recording of one of his webinars, he does spend some time answering questions posed by participants during the event. I kind of liked this format, as it showed the lecturer’s knowledge in the subject matter rather than having a rehearsed script. It is conversational in tone, engaging the student in the process.

 

Weaknesses: Ivan Pepelnjak has a little bit of an accent, which some folks may have some issue with, but I had no trouble understanding what he was saying. Though it did require some mild google searches to clarify terms I was unfamiliar with (I am still very new to the subject), it didn’t seem like a chore.

 

Conclusion: I found myself genuinely enjoying this webinar. I found it a great addition for another course I will soon be completing over at Coursera, as well as for my self-paced studies in webpage design and creation. From the point of a designer especially, we have to consider how quickly a webpage loads as we typically create webpages in order to get people to visit them. If it takes too long to load, then a person will more likely than not move on to something else. There is quite a few things to consider, one of which relates to how to make it equally quick on each of the major browsers. This is sometimes a bit of a artform, hence why this sort of course is so relevant. If you make webpages or are simply interested in learning more about how a webpage loads, then I recommend this course.

 

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MOOC Review: Securing Digital Democracy

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Provider: University of Michigan at Coursera [course page]
Lecturer: J. Alex Halderman
Subject: Computer Science / Computer Security
Delivery: Intake-based, Asynchronous study
Completion Date: 12/03/2013

Description: With the development and availability of numerous technologies, democracy now faces numerous challenges. In this course, J. Alex Halderman teaches us the evolution of voting before discussing currently available voting technology via the Security Mind-set.

Strengths: J. Alex Halderman looks at real-world examples of voting technologies and challenges us to consider our own voting systems from the point of view of somebody that would interfere with the democratic process. The material itself was not only relevant, but interesting as well.

Weaknesses: J. Alex Halderman does “um” and “ar” a little bit, but it didn’t take away from this rather neat course.

Conclusion: I learned a heck of a lot from this course, and it placed recent discussions on digital voting with my husband into perspective. I now understand more of the issues that the Australian government might have with implementing methods other than our current paper ballot. I felt engaged, enlightened and geared towards problem-solving. I highly recommend this course for anyone looking to understand more about global democracy.

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Course Review: HTML5 & CSS3 Fundamentals: Development for Absolute Beginners

Provider: Microsoft Virtual Academy [course page]

English: Diagram of the HTML5 block elements: ...

English: Diagram of the HTML5 block elements: body, header, navigation, section, article, paragraph, aside, and footer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lecturer: Bob Tabor from LearnVisualStudio.Net
Subject: Computer Science / Webpage Design
Delivery: Self-paced, Asynchronous study
Completion Date: 11/07/2013

Description: Bob Tabor delivers 21 fast-paced but easy to follow lessons on HTML5 and CSS3 using basic tools such as Notepad and some browser-based addons. It should be noted that this series was made for the Channel9 website before being added to the MVA website. It was also made after one of his other Channel9 courses Javascript Fundamentals: Development for Absolute Beginners, which I am currently in the middle of and highly recommend.

Strengths: The pace of the course and the enthusiastic manner in which Bob Tabor delivers the lessons engages the student right from the beginning. He offers these lessons with Semantics and Structure in mind early on as these concepts are becoming more relevant for making website content accessible to devices such as e-readers, as well as discovery on search engines. This struck me as a rather intelligent approach and makes them a priority rather than an afterthought for folks wanting to learn about web design or simply trying to update their own knowledge from previous versions of HTML and CSS.

Weaknesses: If there were only flaws or errors in this course, I didn’t notice them. Unless you count the complete lack of elephants and monkeys, but that is another issue… ;-)

Conclusion: Though I’d completed a course track on web design on another site recently, I found myself understanding a lot more about the concepts through Bob’s teaching. He offered great examples and used free tools, which is freaking awesome for anyone starting out. Seriously, if you want to learn the fundamentals of creating a website, you should really watch these lectures and do the various activities Bob Tabor runs the viewer through during the course. And if you get something out of it, take some time out to post a review of the course, send some kudos the direction of Bob, and if you have some coin then consider paying for membership at LearnVisualStudio.Net

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