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Karen Carlson

moocaholic: philosophy, history, basic science, the arts, math... anything but business or computer science. recovering mathphobe (frequent relapses). blog about moocs, short fiction/nonfiction/poetry, and random thoughts at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/

Karen Carlson
US (New England)

Completed ( 29 )

From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development

Written a year ago
I didn't expect to stick with this course - I'm not particularly interested in what I thought "economics" meant - but I was curious to see what Oxford was doing for a mooc. it turned out to be delightful, interesting, and highly informative about a subject i'd always thought was tedious and boring. It started with storytelling, then added a few technical terms as we went on, giving historical examples, and adding in the professor's personal experience with certain situations. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be better informed about what their government is doing, either from the perspective of a developing country, or from a stronger nation that can impact, for better or worse, the developing world, so we can vote responsibly on these issues.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/how-oxford-moocs-charmingly-i-must-say-from-poverty-to-prosperity-understanding-economic-development-edxonline/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Causal Diagrams: Draw Your Assumptions Before Your Conclusions

Written a year ago
I had no idea what this was when I signed up, but the teaser vid was interesting so thought I'd take a quick peek. I finished the course with a surprisingly good grade, since I have absolutely no background in data science. But the course started with absolute basics and added more elements as time went on, so I was able to continue. It was very well done, with clear explanations, great graphics (not snazzy, but clear and understandable) and lots of repetition. I would guess those who have a reason to take this course - data scientists - would find it fairly easy. And for those like me, who have no reason to take it other than curiosity, it's manageable.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/11/01/from-wtf-is-this-to-heythis-is-kind-of-fun-causal-diagram-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

International Humanitarian Law

Written a year ago
Fascinating but hard; prepare to do some intense reading and get ready to make some very fine distinctions between subtle points. I have no background in law other than the first course of this series, International Law, so it might be easier for those with an extensive background in the details of how wars are fought and/or legal systems. I found it very worthwhile, however, to understand the benefits and limits of the current system.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/international-humanitarian-law-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 14 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

The Architectural Imagination

Written a year ago
I loved this course - I've never really understood what the term "architecture" means beyond making a building that won't fall down, and here I got some glimmer of the additional nuances that result both from cultural attitudes and from function. I have no background whatsoever in architecture, but I was able to follow along and I learned a great deal. It's a very engaging class, inviting opinion and speculation as well as academic understanding. As a beginner I found the supplementary videos on perspective and drawing particularly helpful; sometimes the more theoretical lectures went just a little wide for me, but I never felt lost, just like there's more to learn.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/architectural-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science - Part 1

Written a year ago
I loved this course. I'd done some previous work on Chinese philosophy, but from a very different perspective. Here, the idea was to look at the philosophies and see if modern cognitive/neuro sciences could support or refute them. So there was Confucius and Lao Tse, but also brain scans and psychological studies. The explanations were clear, several guest lecturers came in to speak to specific topics, and each week included a video responding to discussion forum posts, answering questions, etc. Very well done course.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2016/11/17/wu-wei-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 14 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

International Law

Written a year ago
Excellent course, but be prepared to do a lot of intense, detailed legal reading and weighing of very fine distinctions. Don't be discouraged by low scores early on - the first lectures are pretty abstract, but it gets more concrete. And it's fascinating stuff - if you're a little unfamiliar with global affairs, it can be daunting, but just keep going, it's how you learn. They estimate 4-6 hours, but I spent far more; then again, I have no legal background and very little familiarity with the international events described, so I had to do some catch-up work. It was worth it! As a result, I took the second course in the series (International Humanitarian Law) as well.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/perry-mason-goes-global-international-law-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 15 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

Humanity and Nature in Chinese Thought | 中国哲学思想中的人类与自然观

Written a year ago
I began to truly appreciate Chinese philosophy in this course. The lectures are wonderful, and informative, the staff was very responsive to questions and comments on the discussion forums. I highly recommend it to someone who's curious about Chinese philosophy, even if you have no background (I had only the slightest background and found it very manageable).

FMI, see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2016/08/08/confucius-mencius-zhuangzi-et-al-ancient-chinese-thought-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

First Nights - Handel's Messiah and Baroque Oratorio

Written a year ago
I loved this course - I just happened to see it mentioned on Twitter, a few weeks before Christmas, and it made me very happy at a time when there wasn't much to be happy about.

It's a fairly easy course. There's no heavy-duty music theory; the explanations using simple diagrams are accessible to anyone, and truly enhanced my understanding of the music. Prof. Kelly is just charming, and conveys his love of music. Part of the material is also the history of the piece, and that turned out to be just as interesting as the exploration of the musical structure.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/need-a-little-christmas-handel-and-chill-messiah-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

Principles of Biochemistry

Written a year ago
Excellent course, but grueling - it's long, it covers a huge swath of material, and it's not easy for someone, like me, with a limited background in chemistry. But it's well worth it. The presentation isn't the snazziest, in most cases, but I learned a great deal and highly recommend it for anyone serious about studying biochem.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/biochem-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 16 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

The Great War and Modern Philosophy

Written a year ago
I had mixed feelings about this mooc. On the plus side, I discovered many philosophers - and artists/writers - new to me, and began to better understand the impact of WWI on Europe. It was also one of the most professionally-produced and evocative moocs I've taken; each week's opening lecture a short film with a highly emotional ending, and the art and poetry I encountered often had me on the verge of tears. On the down side, because it was so short, the topics were introductions without much depth, and I often felt confusion rather than understanding. Still, I'd recommend it, particularly for those who have the discipline (and time!) to follow up on their own and do more study of the individuals included, or those who are comfortable with an overview approach.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/the-great-war-philosophy-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course.

A Global History of Architecture

Written 12 months ago
The content of this course was fantastic: it greatly expanded my understanding of humanity, of history, and of the meaning of architecture and how so many contemporary facets of life are rooted in the distant past. Presentation was a little less "slick" than some other courses, but it's worth getting used to; prof is enthusiastic and lectures are personal as well as academic. Huge course, tons of material, fascinating. FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/history-of-architecture-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Respiration in the Human Body

Written 11 months ago
Very good examination of the process of respiration, from anatomy to the physics of air exchange and the effects of altitude, disease, and other factors. It was slightly tricky since the videos are in French, but the transcripts, captions, exams, and diagrams are in English; depending on how you typically use moocs, it might take a little getting used to, but for me it was well worth the effort.

FMI see my personal blog post about this course at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/belgian-breathing-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Design Theory

Written 11 months ago
Excellent course. I don't come from a design/art background - in fact, I'm one of those "I don't know anything about art but I know what I like" people - but I keep trying to understand what people are talking about when they speak the language of visual art. This course was more about philosophy (which is one of my primary fields of interest); each week opened with a rather abstract lecture about the general topic of the week (what is design, who are we designing for, etc) before progressing to more concrete discussions. Exercises were varied and interesting (which water bottle is most feminine? Which is most expensive, which comfortable?) and several great interviews with designers were included (I especially enjoyed the one with Prof. Yarom Vardimon).

FMI see my blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/design-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course.

Introduction to Kabbalah

Written 11 months ago
Great class for anyone curious about what Kabbalah is, but not particularly interested in actual practice. The course covers the most common theo-philosophical aspects of Kabbalah (since there are many different varieties), and the historical evolution of the concepts. There is some Hebrew vocabulary (using the Roman alphabet) - Sefirot, En-Sof, etc - but there's plenty of repetition with great graphics to help visual learning. Fascinating subject.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/intro-to-kabbalah-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Cell Biology: Mitochondria

Written 11 months ago
"Beautiful" is the best way to describe this course; the animations are sensational. And, surprise, they're helpful to understanding what's going on as well.

The first couple of weeks might seem a bit ho-hum for anyone who's had biology before. Mitochondria don't really come into it in any detail until week 3, at which point glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and ATP synthesis are covered in significant detail. There's also a more ethics-centered unit on mitrochondrial disease and donation, something I'd never heard of before, but that's not surprising since it's recently developed.

FMI see the post on my personal blog at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/mitochondriacal-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam

Written 11 months ago
Great course about complex material. This was my first serious look at the Quran, and I found it informative and helpful. I was surprised by some of the similarities and differences to the Old and New Testaments of the Christian bible. The forums were very active, and lots of students had extensive knowledge of Quranic material so there was plenty of help and opportunity to clarify points. I've taken several other courses on Islam and Muslim history since, and I might want to take this again, since I think I'll get a lot more out of it now that I have more background.

FMI see the post on my personal blog at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/quranic-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

Viruses & How to Beat Them: Cells, Immunity, Vaccines

Written 11 months ago
Engaging introductory bio course. Moves from a few chemistry basics to a little cell biology before delving into viruses, the immune system, and vaccines. Great diagrams and graphics to aid understanding. Includes introductory-level interviews with major scientific heavyweights.

FMI see my post on my personal blog at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/viral-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

Shakespeare Matters

Written 11 months ago
I greatly enjoyed this course and found it surprisingly enlightening. It focuses on the context and emotional character of two speeches per play. Lots of opportunity to express one's views is provided (required, even) and the final assignment includes opportunity to do your own reading of one of the speeches. Three of the plays were very familiar to me; one was totally unfamiliar, and another was one I expected to skip - sorry, I'm bored by the history plays - but it turned out to deliver a real insight into Henry V and the role of emotions. Compact, fun little course packs a lot of punch.

FMI see more detailed post on my personal blog at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/01/23/shakespeare-matters-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

Arab-Islamic History: From Tribes to Empires

Written 10 months ago
Very good course, with a nice balance between historic events (rulers, battles, invasions) and cultural background (art, religion, ethnicity, values and customs, the realities of everyday life).

Materials were varied - video lectures; written documents; on-camera interviews with a variety of historical, archaeological, and cultural experts; examination of primary sources in translation. I've always found the jumble of peoples and places in the medieval Middle East to be confusing; I found this course very helpful in getting a better handle on it. High production standards as well. I particularly enjoyed the glimpse into manuscripts.

fmi see more detailed post at my personal blog https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/arab-islamic-history-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Global History of Capitalism

Written 9 months ago
I have very little background in economics, so I took the course to understand some of the basic concepts and vocabulary. They tried a different approach in this mooc - a roundtable discussion rather than lecture/quiz - and I applaud that. I think it was successful. As a beginner, I frequently felt lost when reading the articles, but the videos helped to some degree, and the graded material was indeed at the basic level; yet there was room, in forum discussions, for far more in-depth exploration of topics. I think this was a great approach for a mooc that might attract students at many different levels of preparation.

fmi see post on my personal blog at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/global-history-of-capitalism-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

The Medieval Icelandic Sagas

Written 8 months ago
I greatly enjoyed this course. Since I knew nothing about Iceland or Norse literature going in, the first week left me a bit overwhelmed, but I caught on after that and had a great time learning about the sagas as literature, and as reflections of Iceland's history and culture. The required reading is limited to excerpts and chapters (a plus to me), though of course anyone's free to read the entire sagas if they wish. And don't miss the weekly podcasts - they're a lot of fun!

For more details see my blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/medieval-icelandic-sagamooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Anatomy of the Chest, Abdomen, and Pelvis

Written 7 months ago
Detailed, no-nonsense anatomy course, including lectures with drawn diagrams, videos of endoscopic and laparoscopic procedures, and cadaveric dissections. The course is a bit disjointed (my impression is that it's more of a compilation of videos than a designed mooc) but it's often great material. I'm not sure it's the best choice for a first anatomy course.

FMI see my blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/anatomy-the-yale-way/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

Human Rights Theory and Philosophy

Written 7 months ago
This mooc follows a very academic/grad school model: lecture plus readings, with two peer-assessed essays (verified students get instructor grading) and discussion posts as graded material. The course focuses on inclusion of underrepresented groups (post-colonial and non-Western, aboriginal, and disabled populations, for instance) rather than dissecting the existing UDHR and other documents. Surprisingly muted, given the subject matter and current world events.

FMI see my blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/human-rights-philosophy-and-theory-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 8 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Fat Chance: Probability from the Ground Up

Written 6 months ago
I loved this course - it was at exactly the level I needed. I particularly iiked the "office hours" feature : a video for each Practice Exercise, giving a clear step-by-step explanation of how the problem was approached and solved. I have a lot of trouble with math, especially stats, so this was very encouraging.

FMI see my blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/fat-chance-counting-probability-mooc/
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Oriental Beliefs: Between Reason and Traditions

Written 6 months ago
Enjoyable survey course, covering a broad range of interesting topics with a couple of deeper dives towards the end. It's arranged by topic - gods, angels, netherworld - rather than by culture or region, but cross-cultural comparisons and links are oddly lacking. Twenty-four instructors are involved; the great diversity of disciplines (archaeology, historical analysis, textual criticism) is briefly mentioned in the introduction, but only explicitly related to the material in the last three weeks. As a result, I found the course a bit thin initially, but the later material was very much worth sticking around for.

FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/demons-and-angels-and-gods-oh-my-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

The Tabernacle in Word & Image: An Italian Jewish Manuscript Revealed

Written 4 months ago
Terrific! This isn't so much a course as it is a single 90-minute lecture on what historians can learn from a pair of manuscripts describing the Temple and Tabernacle. The details are wonderful. Although the course is listed as "advanced", that's based on presumed interest; all technical terms are completely explained. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Jewish culture in the late medieval period, or manuscripts in general.

FMI see my blog post discussing my experience of the course.
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

18th-Century Opera: Handel & Mozart

Written 2 months ago
Another charming, informative and engaging entry in Prof. Kelly’s First Night series. No musical knowledge is needed; although some details of music construction are covered, this is a light course of music appreciation, relayed in more of an anecdotal than academic fashion. If you don’t understand opera, you’ll probably come away with some idea of what’s going on; if you are a long-time music fan, chances are you’ll still hear something new.

FMI see my post at my personal blog.
My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

The Book of Kells: Exploring an Irish Medieval Masterpiece

Written 2 months ago
Nice introductory course combining elements of Irish history and culture. There's a (very brief) summary of manuscript production techniques, and a wonderful examination of the Christian iconography used in the illustrations.

FMI see post on my personal blog at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/book-of-kells-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

Othello's Story

Written 2 months ago
Good course, but if you’re looking for a scene-by-scene explanation of the play, you might be better off with the Wellesley or Adelaide moocs. Here, what shines are the analyses of different retellings of the play, in opera and drama, as well as some performance history. It’s terrific – I still have goosebumps from the interview with Keith Hamilton Cobb – but I’m not sure how much I would have gotten out of it had it been my first encounter with Othello.

FMI see my blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/othellos-story-shakespeare-mooc/

My rating
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

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