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What is your learning recipe? Your goal?

I am curious to hear about people’s particular learning goals and “custom” programs. Some people are just here for one course and a very discrete purpose, some are here to follow their joy, but others have a few particular outcomes in mind and (presumably) have quietly built their own custom program…Calculus + Stats + CS + History, maybe, for a quick concentration in Digital Humanities.

The web/mobile app If This, Then That (“IFTTT”) calls their stuff “recipes”. My question, I guess, is this:

What is your Saylor Academy recipe? Why?


My Saylor Academy recipe is CS101, BIO308, CS409, and STS203. I’m home schooled so I don’t really have a lot of choices of courses I can take. My mom found Saylor and noticed that they offer free courses so then I came on here and found a few that I thought would be fun and they are. I’ve really enjoyed all of them!!! :smile:

Glad to hear it. I have a soft spot for history of science courses (which is more or less the same thing as STS – science, technology, and society). There were among the most thought-provoking, intellectual, and fun courses I took in college.

To stay on topic, I will offer my own meager recipe (so far): I have taken CS101 and PRDV251: HTML and CSS for Beginners, and started PHIL102: Logic and Critical Thinking. My goal is primarily professional development, but the computer stuff has fully spilled over into my personal life as a light hobby. I would also like to take psych, soc, comm, and calc to round out what I did not get to in college.

I wish I had worked for (or knew about) Saylor back when I chose to pay out of pocket to take an economics course to better prepare for grad school programs that I did not even wind up applying to. I had taken econ in undergrad, but it was my worst grade. The second time around was much better. Still, I didn’t really need the college credit, so a free online course would definitely have fit the bill.

My recipe is the Computer Science track (minus the gen ed, but I will take the math). I have a degree in Web Development and I want to take it further!

I also want to take a few courses in the Business track and some Career Development courses such as learning Excel. I’m already half way through that one :smile:

My goal in the next few months is to take my business off the ground, so I can quit my job and study part time :smile:


I’m not sure I have any real ‘master plan’. I started on the MOOC trail when I was looking for some programming courses to refresh my decades-old mainly self-taught experience. This was inspired by the change in emphasis in teaching away from IT (or ICT as the educationalists here prefer) and towards Computing–incidentally taking the subject through almost a full circle as it had all begun as Computer Science under the aegis of Maths departments some forty year ago. Anyhow, a teaching discussion board suggested looking at one these new ‘MOOC’ things that were just appearing and I enrolled in my first courses (on edX).

Immediately hooked I started exploring other avenues and ended up here–although it was not easy to find many references to Saylor. Intending to work through some of the CS courses I then decided to try for the full ‘Major’ but found myself more interested in the Gen Ed than the Major topic itself. Having finished PSYCH101 I decided I actually enjoyed Psychology more than CS, finally understanding why my wife had abandoned her medical career in favour of returning to university to complete Psychology Bachelors and Masters degrees!

I’ve now completed all the discipline requirements of the old Major (as still reflected in the ePortfolio Area of Study) and just need a couple of Gen Ed courses and a handful of Electives to round off the full package. Meanwhile, however, my butterfly attention continues to be caught by topics at random and I am, at least in principle, working slowly towards completing 3 or 4 majors (or Areas of Study) under the old more or less deprecated structure.

So, although quite active, the vast majority of that activity has never been directed towards the planned end (professional development, in the broadest sense). In reality, I study just for my own satisfaction and to fill in the gaps in my education caused by a far too early specialisation away from the arts and humanities. I strongly suspect that History will be my next big distraction–I’ve completed three courses here and have just finished the second of a sequence of three (Civil War and Reconstruction) over on edX presented by the inestimable Eric Foner.

Ironically, my original driver for study is almost redundant as I am not teaching at the moment and sometimes doubt that I will ever return to full time classroom duty.

Yes! I benefitted from Foner’s Who Owns History in school…and I encountered his stuff on Reconstruction in one or two courses as well.

Several years back I went with a friend to enroll him in a community college. They frowned on the fact that he wanted to take personal finance because it was not in his “program.” :frowning: In addition, in my own university experience, they wanted me to take 1 course every 6 wks. :frowning: They claimed one course at a time is the best way adult learn. Also, in Business School learning about Deming, he taught that all learning was good - even basket weaving, art, economics, etc. Now we finally get to a :smiley:

My Saylor recipe is focus on the basic (math & English) + 1 wild card that really excites me. However…never, ever… forget all learning is good. Even if I don’t finish or flunk a course there are things that I do pick up on. My time learning is never wasted.

This reminds me of a thought I often come back to: students, especially non-adult students, say “I hate learning”. But nobody hates learning. Learning feels GREAT – and there are so many things to learn, from driving a stick-shift to making a pie to finding the derivatives of a function. (Okay, people are bored by some things, but that’s different.) What people hate, IMO, what can feel terrible, is not learning, or feeling that one cannot learn. We’ve all been there are one time or another, but hopefully not for long.

Somewhere there is a balance. Where learning is challenging and doable. Then we can celebrate our victories, and we feel good.

However, Sean is correct. We all feel bad when we don’t get it or understand. We feel dumb. It’s up to us to push on and through that barrier. - And that is another feature that I’d love to see on this forum. People helping people when we get stuck.

This is very much in line with Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development which, if I can avoid dropping into educational jargon, basically says that students should work just outside the limits of their current understanding. Too easy and they are learning nothing new, too hard and they are not able to take the required step forward. In the zone they can achieve with support–traditionally from a teacher or mentor but equally from structured support materials. This is what educationalists refer to as scaffolding.

The difficulty for independent learners was finding support when they could not make the next step unaided. What platforms like Saylor or the popular MOOCs aim to do is to build a coherent structure so that the next step should always be ‘doable’. In practice this is not always possible as there is such variation between students which is where the support of peers, via forums such as this, comes in.

As a teacher, the key to getting most students to work was to give them something they could realistically hope to achieve. I found that often the classes with the lowest expectations reacted most positively when given the right challenges and support. This approach also works with very young children. I have taught Flash animation to classes as young as 6-7 years–way outside my normal High School experience–with great success.

Thanks for the post of support Paul. I agree with all that you said except…when learning is too easy nothing new is learned.

In my opinion, relearning easy stuff reinforces it. In the USA there is a TV show titled “Are you smarter than a 5th grader?” You’d be surprised at how many people aren’t. Why? That info is fresh in their minds, while adults have long forgot what was learned in the 5th grade. It really is a use it or lose it brain we have.

Personally, I’m enrolled in 6th grade classes here - and am learning what I didn’t learn in middle school.

All learning is good.

Yes and no. Re-learning (technically ‘overlearning’) can be a valid exercise but it isn’t new–which is what I specified.

When we read a book, we learn many things. When we re-read the book, we see things we didn’t see before. Learning is the same,yet, different.

What I wonder is will repitition help to remember and recall it more. My guess is yes.

Yes. Research indicates that for many subjects, repetition and practice improves both retention and performance.

Thanks for the conversation. Its what I need to learn.I don’t feel so a lone.

Sadly I’m back to woking 60hr weeks so time will now limit my learning.

Goal… learning! :smiley:

More seriously (or rather concretely in the short term): go over the entire math program (GRE math looming in the horizon). Also the psychology major to see if my interest in psychology is just a passing fancy or worth pursuing as a career (and applying for a degree in the field).

Beside that, well… finally learning physics, see if chemistry is as fun at college level as it was in high school, learn some American history, improve my English… anything that strikes my fancy!

It’s a much better past time than playing Civilization IV after work…

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@Ansileran – when it comes time for GRE practice problems, your can multiply what is available to you by adding SAT and ACT into the mix. In my experience, GRE was basically the same topics but tougher by a couple of degrees and with some tougher kinds of problems.

Anyway, good goals! I tell pretty much everyone I can, but I loved Paul Bloom’s psych lectures at Open Yale Courses – both intellectual and entertaining. We use some them in Saylor psych courses, but in my case, I needed something to listen to in the car and these lectures can be downloaded as both videos and mp3s.

I meant the GRE math subject test, the one with lots of calculus ^^
The GRE general is indeed high school math only (and doesn’t require any preparation if one is familiar with high school math / used to solving math problems).

I’ll take a look at the Yale lectures, it will give me something to listen to when I go jogging.

Oh…well then! I learned a great phrase a few years ago: au bout de mon Latin. Just thinking about the GRE math subject test, I know already that I am, indeed, at the end of my Latin.

lol! Were you studying French?

It’s quite scary for me too, especially since “usual curriculum for a math undergraduate major” means nothing when you’re not from the US ^^ I’m glad for the Saylor foundation courses, it feels a bit less daunting now.