If you haven’t already heard about coursera.org, you’ve got to check this website out. It is an effort by Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, computer science professors from Stanford University and it is truly a wonderful service for the general population. Coursera provides free MOOCs (massive open online courses). Ok, you may be a little skeptical, but these classes are not like some of the online courses you’ve seen out there (ehem, University of Phoenix), they are taught by professors of some of the nation’s top schools, including Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and many other top-tier colleges. If that’s not quality, I don’t know what is! I don’t want to suggest that you can get a degree using this website, most of the classes are introductory. However, introductory does not mean they are at a low-level. The American Council on Education has even approved 5 of courses for college credit! That definitely says something about the quality of the courses at Coursera.
The way it works is pretty cool actually. Every week video lectures are released and often times quizzes and homework assignments need to be handed in by a deadline. Since Coursera really has no revenue source (although as of last year it was funded by $16mm in venture capital money and they are experimenting with ideas like a paid for Signature Track and a paid for culminating exam for certification), you are graded by 5 of your peers based on a rubric and an answer sheet released by the professor after the assignment’s deadline, instead of by a professor. The 5 differing perspectives give you a general idea of how you performed. There are also massive discussion forums, Meet-Ups and Facebook groups that student’s all over the world take part heavily in. It really is an awesome community!
So far I have used Coursera for a few different classes, but the one that is most relevant for this website is the course on The History of Rock, taught by John Covach, the Chair Music at The University of Rochester, rated the top school for musical studies by nearly every survey out there. I mean, I’ll take a lesson on rock and roll any day of the week and I’m being taught by one of the most knowledgeable historians on the subject. You can’t beat that! So far I’ve learned about the era leading up to rock and roll and the first movement of rock and roll and I scored 100% on the first quiz. If you hurry up and enroll and take the first quiz you may still be in time to receive the “Certificate of Accomplishment”! You may not think that matters, but I was able to get some discount gear with that certificate from a course I took on music production! Plus, I’d love to be able to use that in conversation I have about rock… “Look dude, I know you think you’re right, but I’m certified in rock and roll… I am rock law.” 8^D