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Author Topic: Free Online Educational Offering: Major or Minor in Computer Science at Saylor  (Read 5114 times)

app103

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Ever consider going to college and perhaps majoring or minoring in Computer Science, but don't really have the time to show up for classes, don't really want to go into debt paying for 4 years of college, and really don't want to fuss and bother with taking a bunch of classes that have absolutely nothing to do with your chosen major? (skip things like Psychology, Modern Dance, English Literature, and Art History?)

Maybe you should look into the offerings at Saylor.

They have 2 different Computer Science offerings, depending on whether you want to major or minor.

They use all free materials that are available online, including materials that are unique to their program. Once you have completed all of the materials for each course, there is a final exam that you can take that does count, to prove your mastery of each course.

Once you have completed all of the courses in the program, they will issue you a certificate, free of charge. While this isn't exactly the same as a 4 year degree from a traditional college, you'll pretty much have the same knowledge as someone that paid for their schooling, except perhaps all the unrelated nonsense from courses having nothing to do with Computer Science, that one is usually forced to take. See their FAQ for more information.

And if you aren't quite ready for taking the required math courses to complete their Computer Science program, perhaps need to brush up on Algebra first, or fill in some of the holes left over from a less than adequate high school education, you can go back and take the high school math courses that you may have missed out on or forgotten the material.





Renegade

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That's awesome! Reminds me of a Good Will Hunting quote:

NSFW
you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library

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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Stoic Joker

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But how receptive will the HR department at a potential employer really be regarding the authenticity of the acquired sheep skin?

Vurbal

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But how receptive will the HR department at a potential employer really be regarding the authenticity of the acquired sheep skin?

That's the sad reality in most tech fields. Before anybody knowledgeable enough to judge your qualifications even gets to see your resume it has to make it through the HR screening process. That's why otherwise worthless certifications are such a big deal.

OTOH I'm guessing it might pass muster for a lot of them for more or less the same reason. Unless/until they become well known enough for that to be a red flag (like the University of Phoenix for example) it may just slip by unnoticed.
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I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Edvard

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The best thing to do would be to take your newly-acquired knowledge that came with the sheepskin and do something with it.  Do lots of things.  Code something for NANY.  Contribute to some Open-Source projects.  Apply for every appropriate job you can think of on places like Odesk,eLance, or Guru.com.  Take all those things and keep details of every single one of them and whip it all into a spanky new CV/Résumé. 

THEN it won't matter if it's from Saylor, Harvard, or the local Public Library; you've got EXPERIENCE to back up your fancy certificate, which is worth much, much more.

Deozaan

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Thanks for this, App! Somehow I missed it until today.


40hz

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The best thing to do would be to take your newly-acquired knowledge that came with the sheepskin and do something with it.  Do lots of things.  Code something for NANY.  Contribute to some Open-Source projects.  Apply for every appropriate job you can think of on places like Odesk,eLance, or Guru.com.  Take all those things and keep details of every single one of them and whip it all into a spanky new CV/Résumé.  

THEN it won't matter if it's from Saylor, Harvard, or the local Public Library; you've got EXPERIENCE to back up your fancy certificate, which is worth much, much more.

That advice is some of  the best advice you'll ever receive.

In tech careers, it isn't so much the degree (except maybe to get past some HR blockhead as Vurbal noted) as it is having the proven ability to do something with it.

I've interviewed MCSEs who passed muster with Microsoft in fine color (thanks to some cram course) who couldn't troubleshoot or fix a network problem in the real world if their own children's lives were riding on it.

I've also interviewed people whose 'formal' education consisted of reading a lot of books while trying things out in a home computer lab they cobbled together out of whatever hardware they could beg, borrow, or repurpose following a dumpster dive.

Two guesses who IMHO had the better education.

Two guesses who got the job.

I'm a big believer in formal training. I think everyone should be given the opportunity to earn a degree. But I'm an even bigger believer in the ability to get the task done. And I never held the lack of an academic credential against somebody - although I've generally had better luck hiring when the person did have some college level background.


« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 08:27:24 AM by 40hz »

wraith808

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The only thing my sheepskin was good for was to open doors.  Everything I have done since I've been working has been based on real world experience, or what I've taught myself.  I took one class in college that a lot of the other was made possible by, however, and don't know why the same principle isn't taught more.

It was called the Organization of Programming Languages.  I took it in my senior year of college, though I'm not sure why it was a senior level course as you didn't really need a lot to get a lot out of it.  It was taught by a visiting professor that was actually a very successful businessman.  It basically taught that the delineation between languages should not be an impediment to using them as long as you know the principles.  And then, for our final project, we had to put it into practice, developing a solution to a problem (and by solution, I mean a full-fledged software solution to a real business problem) in a language that we didn't know and had no experience with.  And we had to do it in 8 weeks.

It was hell, but I learned a lot of what has taken me far in that one class, and I've put it into practice more than once to keep ahead of the changing technology curve, and stay employed...

Deozaan

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Do you offer courses in other languages?
Our current focus for Saylor.org is to provide an entire suite of courses in the English language. Currently, we do not have plans to translate our courses into additional languages; however, we welcome opportunities to work with other organizations who wish to do so.

After reading the above in the FAQ, I was disappointed in the poor writing and grammar used in CS101 Unit 1.1.1 reading assignment. It wasn't too bad, but had enough mistakes and eccentricities to bother me.

Then I read the assignment from Unit 1.1.2 which is so bad I'm not even sure it was originally written in English. I seriously wondered a few times throughout the document whether someone had just used Google Translate to get it into English. I probably could have dictated it in better English when I was in first grade, and probably could have written it myself with better style not many years after that.

It makes it hard to take the so-called college level course seriously when the writing is not up to par with even Junior High school standards. :(


app103

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It makes it hard to take the so-called college level course seriously when the writing is not up to par with even Junior High school standards.

Well, it's not all produced by them, so just grin and bear the portions that are. I believe most of the really meaty Java course materials are from Oracle (well, actually Sun, but they own it now). And some are from other actual universities. I think their own stuff is just to fill in the gaps of the things missing from freely available materials. I'd bet that poorer quality stuff would eventually be removed/replaced if somewhere someone published something better, with a CC-BY license... or if it already exists, someone brought it to the attention of the people that run Saylor.

TaoPhoenix

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Wow, okay, a couple of angles to go for here.

1. "But how much is it worth?" It may be true, but that's *brittle* - it can't hold true forever. (Maybe until the NSA stops spying on us? :P  ) In other words, as long as it was at least tied to actual professors who legit knew their stuff, they can fiddle with the "value pricing". But these kinds of things are starting to catch the public eye, and they are just at the point they can't be forgotten again. Not forever. So another angle is to get someone to start companies hiring *only* people from MMO (Is that the term?) courses. (Legit companies, not scams - you can expect someone will try to bury this stuff under scams too!) 

2. Improve the quality pronto. Because as noted above, people are going to go down in Logical Fallacies in order. So if they can gripe about bad quality materials, ... take that gripe away. Get your favorite 5 grumpy real profs to make/fix the whole degree's worth of courses *including* the real world stuff that so often gets left behind. A Special Lectures seminar is *crucial*. One day do a "stop the zero day" lesson. One day do "Issues in UI" (and for whatever else we hate them for, Apple basically wrote UI 3.0") Your choice of 18 more seminars taken from real life. Maybe it's "Pick 20 of the following 85 seminars"!

3. Copyright mess. Get recordings of the real lectures of the name brand schools! Get them to play the "Marginal Cost" game (zero)! So if you now even have the real lectures, (with simulated office hours etc), you squeeze the snarks even more.

Timeline wise, I think they can stall this meme until after the 2016 Prez elections, and then I think it will explode about 2018.


Deozaan

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Wow, okay, a couple of angles to go for here.

[. . .]

What are you even talking about? :huh: