I am finally wanting to learn again. No papers and exams, but learning for fun. Remember when that was true? As a kid, my friends and I would create small dams with sand and mud, then upend the buckets of water to see if our design actually worked. A few summers later, I was adding water wheels down stream and asking my Dad about how our electric lights stay on. Curiosity made me want to know more about how things worked, not any fear of the next test, or getting that next grant or contract. As a kid, I had every toy, every inventor kit (lego, robotix, constructs). The first code I ever wrote was using a ‘Turtle’ to dram 3D cubes on one of the first apple computers in class rooms. My point, a great teacher is really just tricking students into learning, doing hard work, without noticing because it is really interesting.

Can that be achieved in an online classroom? Is a forum and videos enough interaction to have that magic happen? Probably not, not yet. But what if you paid to get TA help via skype chat or similar? I’d take a job TA’ing my own labs to online students and mark their code for a small fee. Problem there then becomes quality control and fair practices with private schools, but maybe the Udacity group will actually crack this problem and change education forever.

The tech sector in Canada has been dying slowly since Nortel, and RIM will be harvested for her organs next. It is time to back to that well of creativity we all knew as kids. Everyone should have access to information, and at no cost, because it is innovate or die time. No one knows who will have that next big idea. So encouraging creative thinking, learning “just cuz”, is the only way get us out of our technology rutt. My friend at xaxxon technologies wrote a heck of a lot of code for oculus with no formal training. He solved a few tricky robotics problems just because he didn’t know it was considered extremely difficult by experts. I thought it would be near imposible and was chicken to even try coding, but Colin just chipped away at it and made it work (self docking robots).

There are several good resources online: Udacity, The Khan Academy, and MIT.

This week I’m learning more about Python so I can get the most out of this course.

** Two good PyDev introductions are at code academy and at vogella.