So apparently there are lots of … or anyway, some … sites online which give you a free online education.  Some colleges have decided to offer courses for free to interested self-learners.  Now, you don’t get credit towards a degree, but you get a certificate of completion if you earn it.

I’m learning Web Design and Development, having recently stopped being a high-school art teacher in order to learn something new and expand my world, and I’m enrolled in the local community college.  I could have enrolled in a 4-year university, but this is cheaper, and most people say that for the more technical courses, it stands a chance of being as good.

Now, so far my classes are intro computer ones, so on the side I’m teaching myself HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator … (if any of my … I think 6? … devoted followers, or countless readers, know of other things I need to learn, please let me know!  I wanna be a sponge!).  And I’m reading lots and lots of recommended books.

One is “Don’t Make Me Think,” a fabulous and funny book about website useability … it’s no good if people don’t know what to do with it.  And it got me thinking about website useability, which led me to the existance of HCI degrees (Human Computer Interaction … like sociology from a computer standpoint) … so cool, no?  But alas, this involves an expensive Master’s degree from a University far far away, or an expensive Master’s degree from a University online … and while my wonderful husband is supporting me in this career change in a way, I am trying to do it on my own and with my own savings as much as possible, so the ‘very expensive’ part is a bit of a dealbreaker.

But in the process of looking into this, I found a site that offers free courses through established, reputable universities … so I’m enrolled in a course on HCI through UC San Diego, thanks to Coursera, a free-online ‘let’s help everyone learn, ’cause that’s a cool thing to do!’ site, which I now love.

So this is my thank you and shout out to the people and places who commit their time and energies so that those of us who are ex-teachers, who want to learn new things but aren’t necessarily able to do so at an expensive university, can.  My path is one of learning, and growing, and mastering something … not, as it would have been 20 years ago, one of getting a degree.  And Coursera is helping me do that, so to Coursera I say thank you.

Anyone with advice, thoughts, or knowledge, please share them with me … I welcome knowledge in any form!