Don’t blame your education system (Anymore)

First, a list of the reasons for the blog title:

  • MIT OCW : Some 2100 free courses from the top university in the world. They even have courses for high school students.
  • Stanford : The other top university also gives out its material for free. (Hosted at other places)
  • ITunes U : A great place to find some top quality lectures including the ones from above 2.
  • Coursera : The above were just lectures. This one is more.
    You need to complete quizzes and assignments over a period of a few months and get good marks to complete each. Right now, there are more than 100 courses from universities such as CalTech, Stanford, Georgia Tech, Penn, Princeton, Illinois and many more big names. You can even find courses you wouldn’t find anywhere else such as Equine Nutrition!!
  • Udacity : This is similar to Coursera with about 14 courses.
  • EDX : This one is similar to Coursera and Udacity and is started by MIT and Harvard.

Coursera

Well, those were some courses that require a lot of investment in terms of time. If you are interested in just a subject or two, then find lessons at:

  1. Khan Academy : Quite in the news these days but probably the biggest and awesome collection of lessons anywhere. Learn basic school topics as well as advanced topics.
  2. Codecademy : A place to learn software coding directly on the browser.
  3. Code School : Similar as codecademy but some sections are for paid users.

I did not like all that I learnt during my engineering days. Maybe it is the same with you too. Some of my friends say that it was entirely a waste. I can’t blame them; some were forced into engineering colleges by the society in general. For me, it was a case of disillusionment. What I thought I’d learn was not there at all.

When you start your education, you generally have a belief that the education will make you knowledgeable enough to create something out of that knowledge. By the end of your education, if you are still clueless as to how to apply what you’ve learnt, the education was useless. For example, a student in a medical college would expect that he would know enough to treat a patient once he has finished his college. An art student would expect that she would know how to draw amazing pictures or maybe create beautiful sculptures. But in engineering (especially in my country), it is strange. I didn’t know what I could do on my own at all. All I knew was that I had a few job offers and that those companies would give me the amazing insight on what I could do for them. It still seems strange to me that this is the case with most of the people coming out of college even now.

Of course, a lot of learning has to come through experience; at the job, as an intern etc. But while doing this, you must have a feeling that you are applying some part of what you learnt during your college days. Without that, one gets to hear things like “Even a 10th class student can do what I do at my job”.

However, since the past couple of years, things seem to be changing. Quality education is increasingly becoming free (even as ‘education for a certificate’ is increasingly becoming costlier). The internet is now a easily available commodity in even remote areas and hence can deliver this free education everywhere. So, the ‘education system’ no longer has to take the blame. If anybody has to take the blame, it would be the ones who are not willing enough to look outside their traditional education centers.

Now, there is one thing that you may point out regarding these courses; that students will not be able to collaborate and work as a group. There is an answer slowly emerging for that as well in the form of meetups. These are still not fully developed communities but this kind of education system itself is still in its infancy and will definitely improve.

There might be even more courses and lessons that I haven’t discovered yet. But one thing is for sure; If you have access to the internet and if you are willing to invest time, the best education in the world is out there for free.

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