Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pass the MOOCs ... Part 1 (New Job)

Last update: 12/2/15
Two years ago I posted a note about my dropping out of a couple of MOOCs. Since then, I've dropped out of a few more. But I'm currently taking and passing a series of MOOCs offered by M.I.T (via edX) and Johns Hopkins (via Coursera); and I will probably take and pass a couple of MOOCs offered by Udacity by the end of the year.

Questions: What happened? Why was I dropping out then and passing now?

Answers: Same answers as for most MOOC dropouts and passers. I enrolled in MOOCs back then to satisfy my intellectual curiosity with regards to subjects about which I was massively ignorant. And now I'm passing MOOCs to enhance my employment options.

Having been "retired" last January (2014), I spent the rest of the year trying to adjust to a lifestyle of the "idle rich" -- rich enough with retirement benefits that I didn't have to work anymore to pay the rent. But realizing that I still had a few more good years left, I figured out what I wanted to do in this next (final?) phase of my career ==> become a data analyst with a focus on Big Data.  Identifying the gaps between the skills I had and the skills my new jobs would require, I knew that I had to go back to school, back to MOOCs, but this time for passing and for verifiable certifications.

Fortunately the major MOOC providers and Linkedin have developed the infrastructure required by very old dogs like me who not only want to learn a brand new bag of tricks from the comfort and convenience of their homes, but who also want to able to provide prospective employers with proof of their new skills. So I just posted my first verified certificate from Coursera on my Linkedin page ("Introduction to R"). By the end of this month I'll post another verified Coursera ("Data Analyst Toolbox") and the verified certificate for the mega MOOC from edX ("The Analytics Edge"). I should post at least 8 more verified certificates by the end of December. And I will probably compete in at least one Kaggle along the way. For those of you who don't know what a Kaggle is, think of it as a highly competitive hackathon for data phreaks.

I close by referring the reader to the recent edX report that documents my personal behavior as an example of a general pattern ==> dabblers drop out, job hunters stay the course ... :-)

Update 12/2/15 -- So far, as per the verified certificates on my Linkedin page, I've passed one MOOC from edX (M.I.T.) and six from Coursera (Johns Hopkins U) on my quest to make a very late career move into Data Science/MachineLearning ... which means that I "only" have to pass 4 more MOOCs from Coursera (Hopkins), 6 from Udacity, and get decent scores in a couple of Kaggles ... Nobody ever said that MOOCS would take less time than face-to-face courses ... But taking a series of rigorous online courses from the comfort of my home and/or my favorite Starbucks & Paneras is a hell of a lot more convenient ... #OldDogLearningNewTricks ... :-)

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