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Charlie Chung

Charlie Chung
San Francisco, CA
Master of Business Administration (M.B.A)

An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 1)

Written 5 years ago
This course is very well structured, guiding you through the basics of Python. Some big pros for the course:

- Engaging profs explain things clearly and and are entertaining, particularly Joe Warren and Scott Rixner

- They have created a simple browser-based Python programming environment for students to use--so no compilers or environments to download, you can create, run, and save your code via your browser...this makes it easy to just focus on learning to code

- Each of the weekly assignments is focused on creating games (which get more complex), making it fun & interesting

Only a few cons:

- Because the assignments are games, I felt the coding topics we learned were geared towards visual games--thus, quite a bit about drawing objects on the screen and making them move around. As I was not interested in using Python for visual apps (though interesting for exercises), I would have preferred to spend more time on other concepts.

- The material on class methods came towards the end and was brief, I would have liked to have seen it sooner and worked with it more

All in all, highly recommended! The instructors have just announced a couple more CS MOOCs from Rice, and I expect them to be equally well thought out and instructive.

My rating
Charlie Chung completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Model Thinking

Written 5 years ago
This was a great interdisciplinary course, relevant for all thinking people.

I have a background in economics and social science (two major applications of model thinking) and thus I was familiar with some of these concepts (e.g. prisoner's dilemma). However, the content was still 75% new, and totally fascinating. Some highlights, that I still remember 8 months later:

- A Standing Ovation model that helps to describe patterns via a specific example of when audiences stand up after a performance based on where they are sitting & internal preferences...provides insights into tipping points

- A simple application of modeling Diversity, by conceiving of it as having different starting points on a terrain while searching for a global optimum. If there are local maxima, you may get stuck on one of them, but with more starting points you are more likely to find the global optimum. Dr. Page has a book on this, and it is an interesting abstract demonstration of the benefit of diversity.

- Cellular automata, a modeling method of having a grid of cells follow very simple rules about whether to be active or not, based on its neighbors. It is remarkable the kinds of results you can get from very simple rules. You can have simple patterns, complex ones, repeating or seemingly random chaos, from very small alterations, which is very non-intuitive. This helps demonstrate how very simple dynamics can lead to very complex phenomena.

There were several more gems in the course I still remember, such as the forest fire model, the urn model of colored balls, Markov chains, etc., all of which illustrate and shed light on some social phenomena. Drawbacks? It does rely on quite a bit of math--not complex, but there are lots of calculations, which might turn some people off. But the over-arching point of this is that when you see how the math works, you get a better feel for how the phenomena work.

This course has definitely changed the way I think about things, it should be a pre-requisite for understanding the world in the 21st Century.

My rating
Charlie Chung completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

Natural Language Processing

Written 5 years ago
Dr. Michael Collins is well-renowned in the world of NLP. The course is quite technical but pretty comprehensive, covering many types of statistical algorithms in NLP that form the basis for many of the exciting advances in machine translation.

Dr. Collins is very clear & thorough in his explanations, and if you want to understand the math (probability) behind this, then this course is for you. Even through auditing (and not working through the math) I was able to grasp of quite a few things regarding different algorithms, and Prof. Collins also comments on how things were done in the past and what is currently state-of-the-art. I'm not sure how this compares to other NLP MOOCs (there are at least 1 or 2 others), but I would have preferred a higher-level conceptual course.
My rating
Charlie Chung completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very hard.

Designing A New Learning Environment

Written 5 years ago
This was an inspiring course, focused on new ways of learning. Prof. Paul Kim, an Associate Dean (and CTO) of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, is doing leading-edge work in getting technology and new learning methods to different parts of the world.

Thus, the main examples discussed are some of the initiatives he's working on, regarding mobile learning, inquiry-based learning, the power of storytelling, etc. There is also content about learning theory that you cover: Bloom's Taxonomy, Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development, Constructivism, etc. This was a great introduction for me, as I did not have this background (presumably it's in Intro 101 in grad schools of education). Now I'm completely at home when people talk about "scaffolding" in a learning experience.

The real highlight of this course is not the content, nor even the inspiring stories from Prof. Kim, however. It is the group work. As this is on the NovoEd MOOC platform, it is tailor-made for group work. People can post ideas for groups, and browse them, and then join groups they are interested in. Assignments are turned in by the team, rather than by individuals. I joined a group of 5-6 others (teachers, educators, curriculum designers) with the task of creating a new type of learning environment. We decided to design a trans-media story simulation platform to help corporations practice responding to PR disasters). We created mock-up examples of what the platform would look like and how users would interact with it, posting in simulated social media accounts as the 'disaster' unfolded, and getting feedback via the resulting activity. I learned a lot working with the team and it was an energizing experience.

I highly recommend the class for people who are interested in educational innovation.
My rating
Charlie Chung completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

Intro to HTML and CSS

Written 4 years ago
My rating
Charlie Chung is taking this course right now.

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