To Know Coursera is to Love Coursera

Earlier this year I wrote about Tampa's Free Skool, which is part of a brilliant yet mostly unorganized movement of free education going on around the United States. 

Near the end of that post, I linked to a Cousera course that I had stumbled across, intending to take it. But I didn't have the time since I was working full-time & taking part-time grad classes at USF's College of Public Health. 

I was extremely lucky that my esteemed employer at that time, Tampa General Hospital, paid my tuition because otherwise I would not have been able to afford to go back to school. I wish that encouraging your employees to have more education was the norm
these days, unfortunately, I think those kinds of excellent employer benefits are becoming more of the exception. 

That's where Coursera comes in. It offers free online courses from America's top schools. Co-founder Daphne Koller said during her TED Talk that the purpose of her organization is to provide “The best courses from the best instructors at the best universities and provide it to everyone around the world for free.” 

After some struggle, I found that public health wasn't the best fit for me, and as my frequent readers know, I instead went after the program that was. Three weeks ago I started my master's in film & video at American University in Washington, DC. 

I've already learned that my decision to come to AU is one of the best things I have done or will ever do for myself, though it comes with a very hefty price tag, via federal student loans. 

In the months before I left Tampa, I was antsy and bored and wanted to prep my brain for school, so I finally enrolled in a Coursera class. It was Internet History, Technology, and Security, taught by the University of Michigan's Charles Severance, but known to his students as Dr. Chuck

Coincidentally Dr. Chuck was in DC the week after I moved here and I got to meet him, as well as some of my DC-based Coursera classmates, at his "office hours" in a cafe downtown.

IHTS is definitely more of a history class than a tech class, but since my knowledge on both the internet & tech world is limited, I figured it was a good starting place. And not a moment too soon - I can't be a multimedia maven while not knowing all I can about the internet and where it came from. Without that knowledge, how can I possibly become one of the people who figures out where it might be headed?

Coursera's IHTS might be the cheapest class I've taken all year, but it's possibly the most priceless.

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