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Education Science

Ask Slashdot. Best Online Science Course? 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the browsing-teachers dept.
First time accepted submitter blubadger writes "Having slept through chemistry at school, I'm looking to fill in the gaps in my science education by following a short online course or two. I've been searching for 'Chemistry 101,' 'Basics of Physics,' 'Biology Primer,' and so on. There's some high-quality stuff on offer – from Academic Earth, MIT and others – but it tends to take the form of videos of traditional university lectures. I was hoping to cut through the chit-chat and blackboards and get straight into the infographics and animations that will help me understand complex ideas. Flash and HTML5 Canvas seem wasted on videos of lectures. If the quality were high enough I would be willing to pay. Have Slashdotters seen anything that fits the bill?"
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Ask Slashdot. Best Online Science Course?

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  • Oh waaa (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:34PM (#40210035) Homepage Journal

    Higher education consists of actual dialog, lots of words, and drawing on blackboards. Why can't I have infotainment? I'm willing to pay to have things dumbed down for me.

    I know I'm being obtuse, but seriously, this stuff is too complicated for simple little animations and pictures to make substantially easier.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:48PM (#40210227) Journal

    What is the difference between "infographics" and graphical information written on a blackboard, anyway?

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Monday June 04, 2012 @12:56PM (#40210333) Journal
    Just because someone wants just the broad strokes doesn't make them a bad person.

    Knowing ABOUT something is half the battle to knowing HOW to do something. I don't need to know how to do the math myself to appreciate the concept of what it is doing.

    Just one look at the math for something like this [wikipedia.org] makes they eyes of most people glaze over, and they don't even know it exists. Even without being able to solve those equations themselves, a "comic book" version of it, if done well, might make more people appreciate stuff they "use" every day.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:16PM (#40210581) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps someone stuck in traditional Academia.

    Ah yes, that stuffy, hidebound world of academia, where smart people have to think really hard for a long time to understand complicated subjects, instead of getting their information in easily digestible "infographics" and becoming instant experts.

  • Re:Dear Slashdot, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blue trane (110704) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:47PM (#40210991) Homepage Journal

    What if you could present the chapter in such a way that I didn't fall asleep when reading it?

  • Re:Oh waaa (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:49PM (#40211031) Homepage Journal

    It is simply impossible to get a handle on modern science, even at fairly basic levels, without a good understanding of mathematics

    I feel like something is missing from mathematics. Part of that is that I'm not very good at it, but somehow I don't feel like the attempt was made to teach me how math actually worked, just how to plug numbers in and get consistent results.

  • Re:Dear Submitter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blue trane (110704) on Monday June 04, 2012 @01:56PM (#40211137) Homepage Journal

    Classroom lectures are, literally, old school. Using online presentation tools instead of adhering to the old physical classroom format means you don't have to deal with chalk dust, for example, or taking the time to erase a black-or-white board. You can do retakes. Distracting coughs, etc. from the audience can be eliminated. And the teachers can be more themselves, more in control of what they present. They can take themselves out of the picture and focus on what they're trying to communicate on the screen, instead of having to worry about obscuring someone's (or the camera's) view while writing on a physical blackboard.

  • Re:Oh waaa (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2012 @02:21PM (#40211441)

    I feel like something is missing from mathematics. Part of that is that I'm not very good at it, but somehow I don't feel like the attempt was made to teach me how math actually worked, just how to plug numbers in and get consistent results.

    It's not missing from mathematics; it's just missing from the lower levels of mathematics education. The analogy I often use is that a calculus course is like teaching someone how to drive a car; if you want to know how the car works and how to build and repair one yourself, you need to take a course in real analysis (which is essentially calculus done over again with everything actually proved).

    Students who are not math majors seldom reach this level (which typically requires some gateway "introduction to higher mathematics" course), so they never have any idea what mathematics is about: they learn how to use it, not to do it. Indeed, most math graduate students don't have much of the big picture either. I'm a math Ph.D. with an unusually broad background (including comp. sci., physics, some engineering), but I still find that some senior faculty members seem to be able to see how the pieces fit together in a way that I still don't. So there are still higher levels; I wonder how far they go.

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