Thanks to all who gave feedback on my idea about offering online instruction, in an online live classroom setting.
The bottom line seems to be this: that the cost (to enroll), although modest, was too much for most people. But what I’m considering is real education, and would take a lot of time away from other projects, so it’s a real drain on me.
I want to do it anyway; there are things I want to share. One of them is my knowledge and experience with time series analysis. Another is to teach Fourier analysis as a subject itself, rather than the “piecemeal” approach by which most people are introduced to it. Yet another is basic statistics, a subject which is too often neglected by youngsters who are headed for a career in science. I feel an obligation to the next generation, and I believe this is a way I can really help them. After all, if we want to save the world from the chaos of man-made climate change we need the next generation to be well-prepared; they are our best hope.
So, I’ve decided on a different course of action. Instead of having a “live” classroom experience (via streaming), I’ll develop an online course website (not this blog) with classes a combination of video lectures and blog posts, very much like “edX” courses. The advantage is that I can accomodate many more people, there’s no limit really, and the courses will be free for all who want to learn. The “comments” section will be for students to ask questions and “discuss among themselves.” And yes, there’ll be “homework” assignments.
Doing this is a big effort and will take time, so when it happens depends on how much funding I can get from donations. I got the idea when Hank Roberts very generously offered to donate to a “scholarship fund” for those who wanted to enroll in the “live” course but couldn’t affort it. The more generosity I get, the sooner it will come to pass. I’m hoping I can get the first course going before the end of this month.
If you think this is a worthwhile effort, please donate. That means it’s up to you when it starts, and which course comes first; donors can vote for which subject they want me to start with. You can make your donation at Peaseblossom’s Closet, and then email me your vote for your course selection. Send an email to the address “teachingfuturescientists”, followed by the ubiquitous “at” sign, followed by the domain which happens to be “gmail.com”. You vote with your dollars, whichever offering gets the most comes first.
I’ll also emulate public TV by offering rewards for donations. Those who donate at the $50 level will receive a free pdf-file copy (not hard copy) of one of my books — you can choose either “Understanding Statistics” or “Analyzing Light Curves: a Practical Guide.” The stats book has recently been re-formatted for easy reading on electronic devices, including e-readers (so if you’ve got a nook or kindle, the pdf will still be easy to read). When you email your vote for which course, be sure to let me know which book you’d like. Those who donate at the $100 level will receive free pdf-file copies of both my books. Do be aware, these works are copyrighted, so don’t distribute them or post them online.
Those who donate any amount, however small, and those who donate more than needed for a free gift, will get the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile. Those who object that such is no reward at all, fit Oscar Wilde’s definition of a “cynic” — someone who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
I’ll announce when the first course begins, and I hope it’ll be soon. If it does happen to be basic stats, I hope readers here will help spread the word to everyone interested, especially those future scientists, the high school and junior high students who will be the backbone of scientific research in the decades to come.
Worry not, I won’t stop blogging here about global warming. That too is something worth doing.