Category Archives: Online Learning

An Alternative to the 4-Year Plan

Just a quick anecdote I wanted to share. A few weeks back, I was at possibly the last graduation party I’ll ever be invited to as a teacher of a former student. It was a great experience speaking with the recent grad and her friends, many of them also former students of mine, as the conversation was more relaxed and open than it typically is between teachers and students.

As the conversation shifted to future plans, some of the students who are recent plans started sharing what universities they are headed off to and what they plan to major in. I was particularly interested in the story of one recent grad from the math team, a particularly strong student.

The math team students tend to be the best and brightest, and even so, I’ve seen them take a variety of college routes for a variety of reasons. Most go straight to a traditional 4-year university, but some have done community college first to keep expenses down, others have down the military to take advantage of the GI Bill. Likewise, they choose a wide variety of majors from engineering to mathematics to education to the humanities.

For the first time, however, this student told me his plan was to opt out of the 4-year university system altogether. He was planning to get an Associate’s degree followed by 9 months in a computer programming academy and straight to work. He said that the average starting salary for students of the programming school, which doesn’t have the 2-year degree as a prerequisite, is $75,000.

We didn’t discuss the cost of his plan, but from similar coding academies I’ve seen and the typical cost of a community college degree, one would have to think this plan would cost this student no more than about 1 year of schooling at many 4-year universities.  I’m still a big fan of the 4-year university as I know how my time there shaped my life, but their skyrocketing costs are unappealing. I’m going to be curious to see in the years to come if the many emerging alternatives to the bachelor’s degree can start to pick off a significant number of top tier students like this.

My MOOC Study Strategies

My MOOC Study Strategies

If you’ve looked into MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) at all, you have probably wondered how successful students are at completing them compared to traditional courses. The short answer? Not very. I’ve seen various numbers floating around in a variety of studies, citing completion rates as low as 4% and as high as 8%, but… Continue Reading

Johns Hopkins Data Science Specialization Review

Johns Hopkins Data Science Specialization Review

It’s been a couple of weeks since Johns Hopkins issued final certificates for their Data Science Specialization on Coursera. I’m glad to say that I am now among the first crop of “alums” of the program. According to the last email we students received from our Johns Hopkins professors, about 2.3 million students have attempted… Continue Reading

Data Science Capstone Review

Data Science Capstone Review

  Overview of the Data Science Capstone Project and Approach The Johns Hopkins Data Science Capstone project concluded around Christmas last month. It was an interesting experience, and very different than the other classes. The project, a partnership with smartphone app maker SwiftKey, required students to create a predictive text web app that worked much… Continue Reading

Virtual Nerd Back to School Sale

Virtual Nerd, my choice for the best online tutoring program, is offering fantastic back to school 2011 program. The discounts go all the way up to 61% off for a 3-month package of tutoring. If you haven’t heard about them, I encourage you to read my Virtual Nerd review. They have a really slick user… Continue Reading

Ed2Go Review

Ed2Go offers quality instruction at an affordable price. Visit Ed2Go and see their latest course offerings. I’ve been studying dozens of reviews of the Ed2Go online classes. It seems pretty clear that there are two competing schools of thought, and from what I’ve read online, the members of those schools are pretty consistent. Students of… Continue Reading