An older Millennial trying to embrace what makes her generation special.

Friday, November 2, 2018

My Decision to Try to Learn Journalism Online

This is part one in a very non-scientific study in which I see if I can learn anything online. This is not sponsored or funded by anyone. This is just pure curiosity and wanting to believe in technology.

What Can One Learn Online?: A One Person Study

Part One: Picking a Coursera Course

I love the news. I was part of the inaugural news team of my middle school newspaper. The very first story I reported was about a seventh grade Thanksgiving competition to collect canned food for those in need. When I was in high school, I was part of the televised student news team. I love watching, reading, and listening to the news. I love shows that make fun of the news. My favorite part of Saturday Night Live is Weekend Update.

I never pursued it because I was a biased teenager. I mean, I'm a biased adult - look at this blog. But as an adult, I'm more willing to put that aside than when I was 18. When I was 18, I knew I had an agenda and I wanted to stick to that more than I wanted to seek the truth. But now, I understand what agendas can get you. I'm a lot more interested in the truth.

But I also dropped out of college twice. It's not an adventure I want to sign up for again. College isn't for everyone, and it's clearly not for me. But this journey didn't start with my love of news.

It started with my love of learning. College wasn't for me, but learning is. I've tried learning a lot of things online. JavaScript. Math. Things that I thought I needed to know in order to survive in this world, but didn't actually care about. The result was the same - I gave up. Coding is hard when you don't care. Math is hard when you don't care.

So I decided to pause, backtrack, and start from the beginning. What do I care about?

I care about the news. I care about writing. I care about the truth.

After a lot of searching, I found a journalism specialization on Coursera. But I also found that I'm not independently wealthy and I decided to audit the class.

I'm only part way through week two, but I do know that assignments and quizzes are only for people who want to pay money. So how do you gauge what you're learning? How do you know if you are learning?

So far, there has been a practice quiz.

Again, I'm not very far into week two. I work full time, I'm trying to write this blog, and this is just something I'm doing to answer my own personal question about whether or not one can learn online. A little bit everyday is what I can handle - which is still better than a traditional college classroom where you put in two hours three days a week. But I do that today, I took a practice quiz. And I needed to get an 80% to move forward.

And even though this is just a personal journey, I did want to see what other people say. I found this blog entry from Medium where the author described his own experience with the Learning How to Learn course. His experience was wholly positive, but even in the comments section there's someone who said they took the course twice and never finished.

It is entirely possible that MOOCs, like college, just isn't for everyone. However, one thing Millennials are stressed about is the cost of education. Though auditing a class doesn't unlock everything, nor will it give me a certificate, can it still be meaningful? And can sites like Coursera be more cost effective than college?

These are questions I hope to one day unlock.


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