Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I wrote a little bit a bout my first experience with MOOCs last week. I wanted to follow up to say a little more about the other MOOC I signed up for, which was a very different experience.
While my first MOOC was to help me figure out how to do a MOOC myself (and just to learn about the process), my second MOOC was to improve my research. Here is where I have a confession to make: I never took stats. I am terrible at stats. Not so unusual for a law prof but not really acceptable for someone with a graduate degree in Environmental Science and Policy (It's actually a degrees in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the Society & Environment concentration because frankly Berkeley just can't seem to make simple names for their departments.) I use stats in some of my work, but only by relying heavily on co-authors, post docs, and hiring graduate students. So I decided to take a stats course.
Where to go to learn stats? Well it seems to be a common enough need that every MOOC company has a stats course. There are also a couple of in person law-prof focused stats courses out there (like the one that happens every summer at UCLA). I ended up choosing a course from Udacity. Udacity's offerings are not as numerous (feels more like training seminars than college courses), but I really liked the format and the faculty. Unlike Coursera, you can take a Udacity class at your own pace. You could just power through the whole thing in one big Stats week or follow my path and take 6 months to finish the course (no I am still not done so don't ask me to look over your stats yet). Of course if you need the scheduled course and discussion times to motivate you to finish the course, then Udacity isn't for you but I am finding it very helpful. I still miss the student-teacher interaction and would benefit from having classmates to work on problem sets together, but it is cheaper and easier than the other options for learning stats out there.
So all this made me think about what other types of courses could be helpful to environmental law professors to aid us in our research and teaching. Not where would we point our students, but what might we want to take ourselves. I am not so interested in taking an environmental law course, but perhaps a chemistry from environmental lawyers course would be good. What else? Conservation biology? Psychology?
(btw - can we talk about how much fun it is just to say the word MOOC. mooc mooc mooc. Almost has good as Frack! The environmental law lexicon is expanding in a way quite pleasing to the palate and the ears)