Keeping up with the Joneses’ digital skills

By January 14, 2013Experiments, Featured

While new tools and technologies are coming out almost every day, there are still some tasks that require a little more technical abilities.

So what are the options for learning the skills it takes to do a little data analysis, building a beautiful interactive story or a special project?

You could go back to school, invest in a bunch of programming how-to manuals and a subscription to Creative Cloud or hire someone to do it for you.

Classes can be expensive and manuals don’t explain things when you’re confused, but a new push in online education might just be the educational touch up that could help out Alaska newsrooms.

I’m curious about how well the classes work, so I’ve signed up for a number of courses from some of the different services.

I’ll be blogging about my progress through the courses and how much I am learning.

While there are other online learning services, I’ve chosen the ones that are free for this experiment.

UPDATE: It looks live I’ve been removed from the wait list for the Knight Center Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization class so I’ll be adding updates on those classes as well.


The dashboard in Edx

The dashboard in Edx

Edx is partnership between Harvard and MIT to make courses online and free. While the program gives participants an opportunity to study materials from highly rated institutions, it’s also a study on how students can learn and participate in an online community. The coursework is free and conducted at your own pace. Students who successfully complete the coursework receive certificates of completion from the institution hosting the class.

Here’s what I’m enrolled in:

Introduction to Computer Science – Harvard

Introduction to Computer Science and Programming – MIT


The Coursera dashboard

The Coursera dashboard

Coursera is a company that partners with universities to offer certain classes online and for free. Coursera is teamed up with more than 30 universities. The classes, like Edx, are also free and conducted at your own pace. However, Coursera’s terms aren’t clear on what students get to signal class completion. The student records page refers to a Statement of Accomplishment, but doesn’t say what it is exactly.

Here’s what I’m enrolled in:

Programming Languages – University of Washington


The Codecademy dashboard

The Codecademy dashboard

While Codecademy isn’t a university program it is an excellent program for learning coding basics. It’s a great example of gamification of learning. You can earn points and badges for completing each track and if you can rack up streaks of points if you complete multiple exercises in a row.

Here’s what I’m working on:

Functions in Javascript

Web Fundamentals

Next week I’ll post an update on the how the courses are conducted and what the expectations are for each course.

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