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Ken Sellers

Some of my favorite subjects are DNA, algorithms, economics, and history. Most of the courses I take are just for fun.

Ken Sellers
Loveland, Colorado
Electrical Engineering
Masters Degree

Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life

Written 3 years ago
My class was taught by Dr. Eric Lander. If you don't know who that is, look him up on Wikipedia and be prepared to be impressed. It's the equivalent of taking beginning guitar lessons from Eddie Van Halen. As a teacher, Dr. Lander has the gift of making the complicated and technical seem simple and exciting. This was, hands down, my favorite class ever.

The class lists no prerequisites, but you really need at least high school chemistry and biology. Dr. Lander will take it from there. The first part of the course is spent on chemistry that is needed to understand the rest of the class. Then the class moves on to classic genetics, the structure of DNA, the mechanics of DNA replication, how DNA codes proteins, and how proteins form biochemical pathways within our cells to perform tasks like metabolism.

This is not the kind of class where you can just watch the videos once and ace the quizzes. Be prepared to work, and be prepared to be richly rewarded in return.

- KS_80537 on edX
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Genomic Medicine Gets Personal

Written 2 years ago
This course does a pretty good job of answering the question, "Where does genomic medicine stand right now?" The class is basically a series of short seminars. Each week features an informative look at a specific aspect of genomic medicine, on topics ranging from genomics in the laboratory to real-world usage of genomics as a diagnostic tool. With the notable exception of a useless marketing guy, all of the speakers were moderately to highly informative. There was no work required other than watching the videos.
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

Biology Meets Programming: Bioinformatics for Beginners

Written 2 years ago
Of the half dozen or more MOOCs I've taken, this class is in the top two. MIT 7.00x, taught by Eric Lander, is the only one that is on the same level. This is the highest compliment that I can give; I loved 7.00x.

The prerequisites I recommend are an introductory DNA class (MIT 7.00x or equivalent), some programming experience, and (optionally) some formal exposure to algorithms. I do not think someone whose lifetime programming experience consists of completing a single introductory Python class will do well, though it is possible. You are allowed to complete the assignments in the language of your choice; I chose C++.

The material is presented as a collection of video lectures, and an "interactive text" that breaks the written material into many small, easy-to-digest pieces. I typically watched a video and then immediately dived into the corresponding text. On the rare occasion that I had trouble with the material, the discussion forums were a good place to get help.

You are graded on homework (programming assignments) and quizzes. The quizzes are easy if you read the material and do the assignments. The "heavy lifting" is the assignments, not so much due to their difficulty as to their quantity. There were 55 graded assignments, and at least a dozen optional assignments, some of which taught you how to approach the graded assignments. Each assignment asks you to perform some computational task on some data. You are provided with a tiny dataset which is useful for program development, and a practice dataset which is usually a good predictor of whether your program can handle the graded dataset. When you feel you are ready to be graded, you are given a unique dataset and 5 minutes to return the answer. If you fail to give the correct answer, you can try again, as many times as needed.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is! But don't be scared of it. This class reaffirmed for me the truth of the saying, "you get out of it what you put into it". I got a whole lot out of it.
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 20 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

The Arduino Platform and C Programming

Written a year ago
As I was taking this class, I often wondered who the target audience was. Although the class has no listed prerequisites, I noticed a lot of engineering jargon being used without ever defining what it meant. I'm not sure that non-technical people would get much out of the lectures. On the other hand, the lectures were mostly at a superficial level, so I'm not sure that technical people would get much out of them either. The only topic that got a (somewhat) deep dive was serial communication, and it wasn't clear why; users of the Arduino don't need to understand it any more or less than any other aspect of how an Arduino works.

There were other issues. The programs we wrote had to be pasted into a submission form that removed all the carriage returns when you hit Save; I had to manually fix my program each time. Perhaps most frustratingly, you could follow the assignment instructions to the letter, but after you submitted you might find out that the grading criteria included other requirements. In one case people asked about it, and it turned out that the grading criteria were wrong, but they were never updated. My sense was that not much effort went into the creation of this course.
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

The Global Financial Crisis

Written a year ago
Henrik Warne's review is spot-on; I will not duplicate what he said. Just want to add that although Timothy Geithner is the headliner, he only made an appearance in 3 of 11 weeks. Andrew Metrick did all the heavy lifting, and he is both a good explainer of ideas and notably better than Geithner.

In my opinion the course could be improved with a head-on examination of critics' viewpoints regarding the crisis and the response to it. There should be an entire lecture, near the end of the course, where the critics' arguments are laid out one-by-one and rebutted (or perhaps agreed with). As-is, the class is primarily a financial-history class which mostly takes for granted that the response to each phase of the crisis was appropriate.

My goal in taking the class was simply to have a more educated opinion on what happened and why, and that goal was reached. I recommend taking this class.
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

Finding Hidden Messages in DNA (Bioinformatics I)

Written a year ago
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course.

Genome Sequencing (Bioinformatics II)

Written a year ago
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course.

England in the Time of King Richard III

Written a year ago
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course.

Stonehenge

Written a year ago
After fully completing this class, I think the truth is that there isn't enough known about Stonehenge to have a class on just Stonehenge. For my tastes, there was way too much "what do YOU think?" regarding any given question. Who cares what I think? Give me the facts please!
My rating
Ken Sellers completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism

Written a year ago
My rating
Ken Sellers dropped this course.

Trading Algorithms

Written 3 days ago


I liked the content that was presented. There was some really good advice, like the importance of being disciplined in sticking to the algorithm you have designed. Unfortunately there was no detail at all about how to backtest, where to get data for backtesting, where to find research papers upon which to base an algorithm, etc. In other words, everything was kept at a very abstract level, and not enough detail was provided to actually do anything.
My rating
Ken Sellers audited this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.