Thursday, March 19, 2015

MOOCs and Planning my Year

I received my C++ Developer certificate in the mail yesterday, from the classes I had been taking through UAH.

I also made a video this month for YouTube, demonstrating my Lego Mindstorms bumpbot. I've received feedback that I plan to incorporate into a re-do. I'm considering a series of these videos, with Mindstorms robots, then Arduino projects, and then Raspberry Pi, as STEM outreach.

I went back to Codecademy and finished up their Python training. The discussion board listed several MOOCs that we could take to continue that work, so next I went over to Coursera and EdX. I found a number of programming and tech-related courses to sign up for and brush up on skills.

Since most of the MOOCs didn't start right away, I've moved on to Java on Codecademy. I figure if I do one segment per day of Codecademy, and one section of the MOOCs, I should be able to get the work done.

I know that a criticism of MOOCs has been that many people sign up for classes and don't complete them. Honestly? The only course I've completed so far was that initial AIclass, because I very much wanted that "credential." (I took it as an honor certificate)

I attempted Natural Language Processing the next term, but didn't have the Python skills to complete it at that time. I should look for an opportunity to retake it now that I have an idea.

I've dabbled in several other MOOCs. Songwriting. Fantasy & Science Fiction. Reviewed the materials from a Databases offering, that's not "live." I got several weeks into the program and then life got in the way.

The beauty of a free MOOC commitment, is that if I do get a job while these are going on, then of course the job takes priority.

I knew a few people from the AIClass and the CompSciblings / CompScisters Facebook Groups who were able to get jobs from their participation in the MOOCs.

So I am registered for:
    1. MITx 16.00 Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight, March 3 - May 5 on EdX
    2. Georgia Institute of Technology Introduction to Electronics March 15 - May 7 on Coursera
    3. Harvardx CS50x3 Introduction to Computer Science, I started this week, the schedule allows the work to be completed by Dec 31, on EdX.
    4. University of Maryland, College Park Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems: Part 1 March 25 -April 19 on Coursera
    5. University of Maryland, College Park Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems: Part 2 March 25 - April 19 on Coursera
    6. Rice University An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 2) March 27 - April 24th on Coursera.
      • I know this is backwards, but I think with my background I should be able to do it just fine. If not, then I can always retake it after Part 1.
    7. Rice University Principles of Computing (Part 2) March 27 - April 24th on Coursera
      • Another in backwards order.
    8. Microsoft Dev204x Programming with C# April 7 - May 19 on EdX
    9. Rice University An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 1) May 22-June 6 on Coursera
    10. Rice University Principles of Computing (Part 1) May 22 - June 26 on Coursera
    11. Rice University Algorithmic Thinking (Part 1) May 29 - June 26 on Coursera
    12. University of Michigan Programming for Everybody (Python) June 1 - August 19 on Coursera
    13. Rice University Algorithmic Thinking (Part 2) July 10 - August 7 on Coursera
    Meanwhile, I'm continuing to set up a Development environment on my laptop. I installed Cygwin from the links in the UAH C++ courses.  I tried to set up Eclipse, but the C/C++ one is currently giving me an error. I got the the Eclipse Java EE IDE working yesterday, and I have Subversion installed.

    I also downloaded Scratch, and started showing my son how to play with that. He wanted an Airplane sprite, and my husband suggested we make it do a barrel roll. We got it to say "Hello,"  flip around, then think for a few seconds, and move forward a bit. That was fun.

    • Once I finish the Java course on Codecademy, I can update my resume and send it to a few more places.
    • I want to write at least one app, this year. Maybe more, especially if they start bringing in income.
    • I'm looking for an opportunity to take the PMP. I know that UAH offers a prep class, but I don't see testing included with it. I have a PMI account, so I need to do more digging.
    • I want to prepare for the PE exam in October.  I am considering starting my own business, and I'd like to stay technical. I need to plan an hour a day to work on this.
      • Meanwhile, I checked out some library books on startups.
    • WE15 is in Nashville this year, so if I am still here and still out of a job, I will at least buy a 1-day pass to go to that job fair.
    • I am thinking about Doctoral programs. I need to continue researching what I want, and what sorts of Fellowships would be available, to pursue that path.
      • I've decided against the Political Science I had originally thought.
      • I've been leaning towards Computer Science, since I enjoy computers, programming, and that should build on my engineering background.
      • The MIT course is making me think about Aerospace Engineering again.
        • I had thought that was what I wanted to do in junior high... but I was given advice to go for Mechanical instead, as it had broader applicability.
        • Then when I got to engineering school, I realized that the engines and gears of Mechanical engineering didn't interest me nearly as much as the programming, digital logic, parallel processing, and robotics that fell more under Electrical Engineering.
      • I took the GRE in December. I've missed most of the deadlines for Fall 2015, but again if this keeps up, I could always apply for Fall 2016. The MOOCs are one way to get a feel for the professors, the schools, and the programs.
    • Start participating in Open Source development.