Universities are starting to succumb to the relentless SJW propaganda and increasingly are failing to do their job: to educate.

Costs have skyrocketed for tuition. Students are taking out loans that can take decades to pay off, if ever, and seek degrees that will never give them real skills.

In short, it’s a mess.

Fortunately, there are alternative ways and means of becoming educated.

The internet has brought bounty unimaginable even a few decades ago. Out of the many offerings, online learning sites have sprung up, of various quality and costs.

I’m going to focus on one of those: Coursera.org.

Coursera offers a ton of different courses covering a wide range of topics. A number of courses are free, and the ones that aren’t free are not that expensive.

They offer certificates for paid courses, but most offer a free version without the certification. I’m not sure how much weight a certification carries in the real world, but at $79 per class, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than some tech learning school that might not be around before you finish.

“Coursera was founded in 2012 by two Stanford Computer Science professors who wanted to share their knowledge and skills with the world. Professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng put their courses online for anyone to take – and taught more learners in a few months than they could have in an entire lifetime in the classroom.

Since then, we’ve built a platform where anyone, anywhere can learn and earn credentials from the world’s top universities and education providers.”

I’ve been taking courses from them on and off for years and I’ve liked every course.

I started with Andrew Ng’s machine learning course, https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning, and have taken ones on stats, machine learning, mathematics, and I am currently taking one on calculus. Math is a perishable skill, and I haven’t done any serious work in calculus for a very long time, so it’s been nice to take a refresher at my own pace.

So how does it work?

You sign up, for free, pick a course. A lot of them are free to take, some are part of a large specialization that does cost money, and I think all of them offer a paid-for certification.

Each course is divided into weeks, each week has video lectures covering the topic, usually some form of homework and short online quizzes, leading up to a final quiz or assignment of the week. Everything is online. Mastering the material is the only way to progress.

Each class has a moderated forum with assigned TAs helping out lost students. Sometimes the testing system is borked and they’ll explain the issue at hand and provide an alternative solution to solving the problem. For example, the answer to one of the calculus quizzes causes the testing app to fail on parsing the response, so the TAs posted the issue and gave the solution that the system would take and understand.

Coursera isn’t the only one game in town. There are others, like MIT’s OpenCourseWare (https://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm) and Stanford Online (http://online.stanford.edu/) and worth exploring.

I can recommend Coursera at of the end of 2016 as living up to their stated goal of creating “a platform where anyone, anywhere can learn” and as a Man of the West, this is one more tool in your toolbox of a lifetime of learning.

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