Tag Archives: MOOC


Wow – September already and I’ve not posted since June. Where has the time gone?!

I’ve been busy – a bit of running (not a lot though, I’ll admit) and some changes at work – a new boss, then a new job (doing more stats and analytic type stuff, yes!) and another new boss.


Anyway, around this time I was offered a free trial of lynda.com LinkedIn’s new acquisition. The site offers courses in leadership, management and lots of software programmes (including things for CAD and Photo editing). As it was a free trial I was signing up for; I signed up for a premium account which means access to additional files to download – you can still get your own free 10 day trial.

Courses on lynda.com take the form of video lectures with a transcript – because of this I kind of think of them as MOOLs – Massive Online Open Lectures – there is no interaction via community message boards with fellow students or tutors, you simply watch the lectures and make notes, downloading any reference material if provided. Courses tell you how long they are (I think the shortest I did was about 16 minutes the longest over 5 hours) and material will be broken down into chapters.
There is also no assessment or requirement for interaction – all you need to do is click on every segment/chapter of the video – you do not even need to let it play through, just click on it, and it will count as being completed.


The subjects I looked at were:

  • Leading and Working in Teams
  • Data Visualization for Data Analysts
  • Data Visualization Fundamentals
  • Developing Political Savvy
  • Leading with Stories
  • Business Storytelling
  • Leadership Fundamentals
  • Presentation Fundamentals
  • Developing Executive Presence
  • Building Self-Confidence
  • Stepping up to Leadership
  • Managing and Analysing Data in Excel 2010
  • Thinking Like a Leader
  • Macros in Depth
  • Body Language for Leaders
  • R Statistics Essential Training
  • SPSS Statistics Essential Training
  • Up and Running with R

Some were a lot better than others – the tutor for the Body Language for Leaders stood out for me; so much so I actually sent the tutor an email via her professional website. Leadership Fundamentals also had some great content. The guy on the excel videos (Dennis Taylor) was also extremely good at delivery and I would certainly recommend any course by him; I was also able to preview what was coming up and skip to the areas that I knew I had a couple of gaps in or were in need of refreshing.

So, I guess the more soft skills courses were a lot like going to a seminar – except you can pause and rewind bits that perhaps you missed or want repeated.
The software courses can be useful to work alongside – as it had been a few months since I’d used SPSS last, I borrowed a laptop with it on, found myself a room and worked through the exercises – everything came flooding back (though I admit I didn’t learn much new on that one).

Lynda.com is also fully integrated with LinkedIn so after completing a course you can link it directly into your profile with just a couple of clicks – I did this for a few courses but not all of them.


I can certainly see the value in a business signing up for an account and allowing staff to work on subjects and brush up some skills with Microsoft office or other products, but for an individual learner it isn’t cheap and I am not sure how much you would benefit; is anyone going to hire me on the strength of the fact that I sat through some MOOLs on R, SPSS and leadership? No. But, I did have great fun and did learn quite a few things (note – once your trial is over your access including to courses you have completed shuts off – so make sure you have taken all the notes and downloads that you want!) so I would certainly recommend people signing up to the free trial when they can time it right so they have the opportunity to get as much out of it as possible.



Data Scientist MOOC

Some of you intrepid readers (again, hello mum) may remember I started a MOOC on writing a while ago.  Sadly, work went absolutely mental and I didn’t manage to progress beyond week 3 of 8.  I fully intend to pick it up again in the near future (ah, the joys and benefits of MOOCs!) and complete it.

However; I stumbled across a thread in LinkedIn which pointed me towards a different MOOC site, namely Coursera – this seems to be more US based and is a bit more computer/data-centric.

Anyway, I decided to start out with (because it says 4 weeks and only 1-4 hours a week, so I should be able to manage that) a course called the Data Scientist’s Toolbox, the first of 9 courses in their Data Science specialization. The course will also introduce me to some web-based software called GitHub (I’m sorry, I can’t help but snigger every time I read/write that). Other courses go on to look at R which should be useful; I have currently only used SPSS.

The course starts Monday 2nd February.

23 Things – Things 10 and 11

OK; I am a bit late with this one, apologies, I will get to all my excuses later.

Thing 10 focused on LinkedIn – I already use this and I use it quite a lot.  Here is a link to my profile.  Academia.edu I don’t think I am smart enough for… 😉

I use LinkedIn to network (of course) and also to share things, including my blog posts (though not the ones for 23 Things – I think they are a bit too frequent).  It’s fantastic for looking people up and getting some background on someone before you speak/meet or as a follow-up.  It’s also incredibly useful for job-hunting (which was why I signed up originally; January 2013).

Excuses/Other Activities

Well, I have been:

  • working on my MOOC
  • re-qualifying as a First Aider (St John Ambulance)
  • training to become a running Coach with UK Athletics

I hope to write more about these things in future posts, as well as reviewing some recent races I’ve taken part in, starting with the most recent two and maybe a couple that I have done more than once; I don’t think I will go through my whole back catalogue!

MOOCs, Websites and Writing

This week heralds me taking part in my first ever MOOC – hosted by FutureLearn, I am doing the Open University’s Start Writing Fiction – an 8 week free course designed to help you…start writing fiction.

Here is my writing notepad that I am supposed to be scribbling ideas in.


This week is week 1 of the MOOC.  There are video/sound clips to watch and listen to, exercises to post on the discussion boards and you can interact with the other learners by reading and posting on their comments or pieces of writing.  FutureLearn also gives you the functionality to follow other students (or tutors) so you can see what they are posting.  This is quite useful as there are a lot of people taking part in the course so the number of comments can be quite overwhelming – focussing on a few “favourite” individuals, limits this problem.

FutureLearn offers lots of free online courses, with regular start dates.  Perhaps I should get my team to all do How to Read Your Boss? There are ones about computing, global health, dentistry (?!) and space. taught by as well as The Open University, Reading, Leeds, the British Council and other Universities .  Well worth a look.


Fun websites

At the weekend I stumbled upon this site by another 23 Thingser and she mentioned me! And was right – of course I meant Dr Seuss, not Alice in Wonderland! anyway; it’s nice to see someone else go through the 23 Things process and see what their experience has been. I could see her point regarding Thing 5 and the personal brand exercises

I also found this site yesterday –
stats with catsexploring statistics, interspersed with pictures of cats. Honestly; what more could you want? Stats with cats.  Needless to say, I have set up an RSS feed from the site!