Get your MOOC on

mooc - massive online open course

Education Options are Changing Fast!

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately into online education.  It started with a search for the best online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs.  In that search, I found a ton of information about massive open online courses (MOOCs.)  It is something I had looked into before and even registered for a few classes.  I had just never heard the term MOOC before.

The idea is that colleges and universities all over the world offer you the chance to take courses online without credit – kinda like auditing a course but online.

In the course of my research, I signed up as a student at edX,  NovoEd,  as well as Coursera.  So far I have downloaded the Coursera app for my iPad and took the DemoX edX Demonstration Course that explains how their class interface system works.   Another useful site is Class Central which is really just a library of various courses.  Sites like it and others list courses regardless of who is providing them and link to many sites.

You would think that all these courses are archived so you can move at your own pace and start and stop when it pleases you but they are actual interactive courses.  They have instructors, you have group projects, you have deadlines as well as start and stop dates.

I am currently enrolled in:

  • Services Marketing: Selling the Invisble from – a 3 week course about marketing service-based business (Starts immediately)
  • Sports and Society from Duke University – a 7 week look at the role societal changes have in the sports culture (Starts Sep 1st)
  • Introduction to Financial Accounting from the Wharton School of business – a 10 week course covering the basics of financial accounting (Starts Sep 5th)
  • Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up from Stanford School of Business – a 5-week course where you learn the principles that will help you scale up your venture without screwing up. (Starts Sep 15th)
  • Foundations of Data Analysis from The University of Texas (Austin) – a 13-week course covering fundamental statistical topics such as descriptive statistics, inferential testing, and modeling. (Starts Nov 4th)

These courses were chosen because a) they are of interest to me, b) its kinda cool to say I have taken classes from the Wharton School of Business and c) it will acclimate me to taking online courses and as I move toward my MBA.

On the subject of the MBA, I have already requested transcripts from my former university and have narrowed my choice down to a couple.  In addition, I have downloaded several GMAT apps for the iPad to do some practice work there (although from what I have seen, it all looks really simple – granted, I haven’t delved too deep,) and I will be applying for admission soon.

So what is your experience?  Have you taken online courses?  Have you participated in MOOCs?  Share your experience/advice/warnings etc.  Thanks!

by Chris Doelle


Hooray for Dropbox! 10X the space

dropbox proI love it when you get a gift out of nowhere.  Dropbox has just done that.  Instead of the 100GB I was at on my Dropbox Pro account, it turned into 1 TERABYTE today!!!  No extra cost.

I have been a fan of Dropbox since I started using the free version.  The ability to increase my storage space by inviting friends really helped me out as they just kept adding space.

It didn’t take long however for the space to run out – I guess you could say I am a power user when it comes to cloud storage.

You can imagine my pleasure at reading an email (right) from Dropbox this afternoon announcing that my storage increased 10X!!

Thanks Dropbox.  This is a good service that I cannot recommend enough.

Chris Doelle


Book Review: Bubba Talks

2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 51 (90% non-fiction)

Bubba Talks reviewI listened to Bubba Talks: Of Life, Love, Sex, Whiskey, Politics, Foreigners, Teenagers, Movies, Food, Foreigners, Teenagers, Football and Other Matters that Occasionally Concern Human Beings by Dan Jenkins because I like his writing – okay, maybe not… I like the movie North Dallas Forty.  I never read that one in book format so I may just be looking at the one time Hollywood a book and created a movie that was better.  I don’t know.

This book reads like a collection of post-it notes Jenkins wrote down anytime he heard something that tickled his funny bone.  It is disjointed and altogether insulting to men.  Sure, I get the theme is to poke fun at everything redneck and Jeff Foxworthy made a fortune helping us laugh about them but Jenkins doesn’t seem to be laughing with them.

First, he implies that there is a bit of “Bubba” in all of us… in all regions of the country… all states in the union… and most men.  He goes beyond simple redneck jokes and insists that men are lazy, bigoted, mean and not that intelligent.

I made it over half way through the book but in the end had to put it down.  There was nothing positive to come from continuing my reading.  Don’t waste your time.

Found the library – now, it feels like we’ve moved

Eclectic is the term my wife used to describe my book selection.

Eclectic is the term my wife used to describe my book selection.

Okay, I didn’t find the library – Dawn did. There is a little green sign on the main drag in Kyle that points to the library and despite the fact I’ve driven past it hundreds of times over the past five years – I’d never seen it.

Dawn and I went and got our library cards and long-time readers of this blog will know that mean something big to me. (I have written about libraries many times.)  I am a big fan of libraries – not just because you get everything for free… okay, maybe that is the big reason. Regardless, I know I have officially moved into a location after getting my library card.  There is some sort of permanence that I feel when I have a library card in a new city.

I am sure that like every library I have used, my usage will be in fits and starts, but there is something very comforting about knowing it is there anytime I need.

by Chris Doelle


Doing it for yourself

cant change a tireI have been thinking about the whole “doing it for yourself” thing recently.  Let me tell you what got me started.

  1. We recently moved and apart from the really big stuff, we did it all ourselves.  That mostly meant Dawn and I (with varying degrees of help from the boys) packing boxes, lifting boxes, loading trailers, transporting, unloading boxes, hiking up to the third floor, unloading boxes.  After four days of solid work, we discussed hiring movers next time.
  2. I saw a recent question online asking if when faced with a flat tire you change it yourself or call someone – the overwhelming response was that people called someone.
  3. I recently hired at my company to handle things that I don’t like to do.

You hear both sides of this story all the time.

You should outsource anything you don’t want to do.  It is more efficient for someone who does that item professionally than to be a jack of all trades.

You should be able to handle anything that comes up.  To let someone else change your tire means you are not a man.  What is wrong with society is that nobody has any work ethic anymore.

So what is my take?  What is the right answer?

As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle – that gray zone the extremists always tend to avoid but in being slightly displeasing to both sides, pleases everyone.

I think you should be able to change your own tire (I’ve never had anyone else change a tire for me.)  You should be able to hook up a trailer.  You should be able to pack a moving box, load it in the car and haul it up some stairs.  You should be able to take a huge seemingly overwhelming task and break it down into actionable component parts.  You should be able to plant a garden.  You should be able to shoot and skin a deer.  You should be able to bait a book, take the fish off the hook and cook your dinner.  You should be able to connect your TV to the internet.  There are a ton of things you SHOULD be able to do.

You should not shy away from tasks just because they make you sweat.  You should not shy away from tasks just because it may seem beneath you.  You should not shy away from a task because you lack the knowledge.

Also though, once you know how to file and do accounting (which you should understand) it is perfectly acceptable to outsource that to someone who does is better, faster or at less expense than you would.  Just like moving… we know how to do it – but next time we are going to let someone better suited perform that task.

I harken back to a mindset I had as a young man – when asked if I could do something I had never tried (like riding a wheelie on a motorcycle) instead of saying, “No, I can’t,” I would always respond, “I don’t know yet – I haven’t tried.”  Then if it interested me, I would go figure it out.

by Chris Doelle

Book Review: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 50 (90% non-fiction)

simon-sinek_leaders-eat-lastI first heard about Simon Sinek from his appearances at the TED conference.  I quickly grew to like his philosophy and devoured his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.  When I heard he had a new one - Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, I had to read it.

This book is even better than his last and sure to be a standard on any must-read lists I share.  Sinek’s take on what it means to be a leader is a throwback to an earlier time.  It is a throwback to when a handshake meant something… a time when you took care of responsibilities before selfish needs.

More than just a collection of fantastic examples of good and bad leadership, this book jumps into a subject that is fascinating to me.  The chemicals that control our emotions, our desire to work together and drive to succeed.  This section of the book is arguably the most valuable in a book chock full of value.

by Chris Doelle

The Giver keeps Giving

Brenton-Thwaites-the-giver-lgIf you’ve been a reader, you know that I really liked the book The Giver by Lois Lowry and in my review I mentioned that I hope they do a good job on the movie as I expect it to be a good night out with the family.  They did and it was!  The Giver was a really good film.

I loved Russell Wilde’s review where he referred to it as “Divergent in Pleasantville,” and yes that was a good summary, but having read the book and seen all three movies (we rewatched Divergent last night to see the similarities) I feel this movie was so much better than that simplification.

I think it actually could have been longer (and I rarely think that about any movie) and still entertaining.

I was pleased that it went over well with everyone in the family – yes, even the angsty teenagers thought it was a good film.  Usually it takes a superhero flick to make us all agree.  Go see this with your family or by yourself… but it is worth it.  We spent most of the next day correcting each other with “precision of language!”

Brenton Thwaites did an excellent job in the lead role of Jonas and Odeya Rush did well as his love interest Fiona. (a bit too Hollywood-romanticized)  Alexander Skarsgård was so perfect as Jonas’ father who went about his business oblivious to what his actual business was.  The entire cast made you fully believe the characters and kept you “in” the story.

The only thing I would have changed is Taylor Swift.  Her appearance in the film took me right out of the storyline and into “oh look, Taylor Swift is making the transition to film now.”  It just took away from the story.  I guess Katie Holmes‘ return to the big screen was a bit of that as well, but not as much.

Overall though, I cannot recommend this movie enough as a family outing that everyone can enjoy.

RATING 8 out of 10 social media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works,

Book Review: Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything

2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 49 (90% non-fiction)

196f_minecraft_the_unlikely_tale_of_markus_notch_perssonMinecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything was a really interesting look at the creator of Minecraft – Markus Persson.  It tells the tale of this geek-turned-millionaire as he went from quiet, reserved teen to quiet, reserved toast of the programming world.

I was surprised that not only was this a look at how Persson built a company from humble beginnings, but looks at his family life with all the scars.  This book pulls no punches but is a genuinely positive story.

Minecraft is a phenomena that I finally wrote about last year in my post Minecraft – Digital Legos.  It has taken over the programming world much like legos took over the toy world.

If you have an interest in programming or anything geek-related, you will really like this book.  If you are interested in the game Minecraft, this will make you look at it in a different way.

This game is so simple that it is brilliant.  This book is neither simple nor brilliant, but a great tool to understand what made Minecraft such a hit.  Good stuff!

by Chris Doelle