I completed a previous MOOC on video game analysis (#50by50 #32 – Complete a MOOC – Understanding Video Games) from the University of Alberta and I started one on Metaliteracy some time ago from the State University of New York (SUNY). But I’ve found the Metaliteracy course a bit challenging for its design.
There are ten weeks, with each week having a mix of videos and readings to consume, and then a couple of online assignments to fill out about what you learned. The previous one had an option for just auditing with little interaction, this one needs that interaction to really work. Which is generally fine, no problem.
Except each week’s “submission” then has to be graded by your peers. Which would work fine if you had any other peers doing the course at the same time, but it has continual intake. People can start and stop anytime, the deadlines can be reset with a click of a button, etc. Which means I finished weeks 1-4 and sat waiting for “grades” on the submitted postings/assignments until someone started the course, reached the same point, and reviewed them. As part of the community, you also have to review three other people’s materials. Which also doesn’t work if I go to review them, and there are no other people doing it at the same time — once or twice, I had NOTHING to review.
Which means while I’m doing my part, there’s no cohort moving through the course with me. So I got to week 4 and stalled. Eventually, someone else will come along and review my stuff and I can review theirs, but until then, my submissions go into the temporary abyss of the internet waiting for “review”.
I also confess that the course, while okay, is not as interesting as I had hoped. It has some interesting readings related to curation of info, fact checking in a social media age, licensing, etc., and I’m getting what I wanted out of it, but it is definitely not at the top of my list of interesting presentations and presenters.
The “challenges”, however small, are not an unusual occurrence, nor any grand universe conspiracy, it’s just a really frustrating form of group work that holds back my somewhat boring learning while I’m waiting for others to engage and do their part.
Except it isn’t really holding me back, that is / has been my perception. MY part is just to do the assignments each week and mark other people. I can still do my part, and complete the majority of my learning. If I don’t get the checkmark for any given week because nobody marked my submission, who cares?
MOOC this, universe. I’m proceeding anyway. I’m designating Mondays as my MOOC day, either at lunch or at night. I’ve even downloaded the app for Coursera so I can view it on my tablet rather than at night on my laptop. Week 5 on formats as a consumer and producer is done, moving on to week 6.
About three and a half years ago, I got excited by the idea of MOOCs — massive online open courses. I went through multiple sites like edX and Coursera, reviewed some online offerings from Canadian universities, and tore through the Great Courses catalog to try and identify “which courses should I do?”. The resulting list of courses I was interested in was massive, no pun intended. Literally hundreds of courses available to me, and since I wasn’t interested in certification or a degree (I already have those), these would be just done for interest. The true embodiment of lifelong learning, with a strong focus on flexible learning. I could download stuff to my MP3 player, I could read on my tablet, I could blast through printed materials. It would be awesome.
Yet I also knew I wasn’t looking for a dry boring course, it would need to balance the education and entertainment components, even if I didn’t exactly call it that at the time. I wanted a “quick win”, something that would hold my interest, not get bogged down too far in esoteric academic theory yet still have the rigour of recognized academia doing the curation. A course taught by Leah Hackman and Sean Gouglas at the University of Alberta through the Coursera platform seemed like a great match. It was entitled “Understanding Video Games”, and it would let me scratch a particular learning itch — having a better foundation to understand the elements of “games” before tackling the morphous and relative wild west frontier of “gamification” where everyone talks about it and throws elements up, seemingly without any real framework to know how the pieces fit together into a coherent picture.
I started the course in January of 2015, and my hope was I would finish three in the year — Understanding Video Games would be followed by a course on MetaLiteracy and then likely an intro to psychology course at Carleton. Not exactly what happened. First and foremost, I got sidetracked and distracted with other more pressing pursuits. Second, with no accreditation tied to it, and thus no extrinsic motivation other than interest, there was no immediacy or urgency to my learning. Three and a half years later, and I’m finally finished 11 “weeks” of videos that I could have finished in two short weeks with a set of videos each night.
But did I achieve my objective of learning? In short, I did.
This opening week introduced some ideas that I found limiting in their initial approach, and I was happy to see them expanded upon in later weeks (the evolution, for example, from linear storylines to more multi-modal storylines (tying in nicely to emergent gameplay). Equally, I liked the final elements of the course on how certain games have boosted gamification to encourage repeated game play by modifying the game mechanics, which explained in part why certain games that held zero interest for me seemed incredibly popular and addictive to others.
IMO, this was the best lecture of the series, partly as it provided the foundation I was seeking in order to have further discussions later about gamification. It starts with the question, “What is a game?” and what initially would seem almost pedestrian veers into deeper philosophy almost to distinguish a “game” from mere “play”. In the end, I was most attracted to the idea that a game may have a common set of elements such as:
Usually close-ended with formal system of rules and a desired end-state to reach;
Consequences for cheating or violating the rules;
An ending or conclusion;
Balance between risk and reward;
Effort on behalf of the players; and/or,
Fun or whimsical elements.
For me though, I think that second half of the list is more about the enjoyability of the game, as many other games could have those elements or not and still be games.
This would be my second favorite lecture of the series as I think it starts to expand upon the basic definitions of a game tied to physical medium games like board games and takes you deeper into the world of interactive video games. With the idea introduced that progressive gameplay means you progress linearly through the game, and the idea that emergent gameplay allows for some self-identification of goals and / or methods to achieve them, I was struck though that there was something missing — the difference between single player games and the limited opportunities for emergence vs. the natural emergence, even in more linear games, if the game allowed for multiple players to interact. The one element that I feel is underdeveloped is the significance of griefing. I don’t think griefing really qualifies as emergent gameplay, just more that the computers now have help (an extra opposing side, for instance).
I love the framework of game rules (obvious), agents (players), game mechanics (what the agents can do to interact with the game i.e. actions, behaviours and control mechanisms), dynamics, and aesthetics (emotional level).
The week’s material covers RPGs, and I found myself more interested in the story elements (narratology) over the game mechanics (ludology). An interview with a game designer and programmer was fascinating about how built in personalization / differentiation gives an illusion of total openness in a scene, in contrast to the reality that it is actually a tightly controlled narrative / dialogue. However, overall, I think the biggest addition for the week was Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of the hero’s journey (departure, initiation, return). While I understand the limitations (default male-orientation, kitchen sink ethos to include “everything” and its misuse as prescriptive storytelling), it’s a decent framework for the frequent “hero’s journey”.
The week walks through the beginnings of MMOs with multi-user dungeon games (MUDs), and how MMOs added to it with advanced GUI and recognizable visual settings. In particular, they work their way through Ultima (which added both positive social interactions and negative ones such as griefing), Everquest (innovation through adding 3D interfaces, but also led to selling characters in the real world and early references to online addictions), Second Life (showing that it wasn’t all about weird fantasy worlds), and the true powerhouse, World of Warcraft.
This week stepped back a bit and pulled from literary theory to talk about a structural way of analysing games and the interrelationships between the parts such as the hardware and program code, functionality, gameplay, meaning of a game (relying on semiotics, signs and symbols), referentiality (how it represents a genre or crosslinks to other games and gametypes), and socio-culture (how it fits within the outside world or what is brought to the game by players).
In the end, though, it basically argues what the game says or doesn’t say, does or doesn’t do, includes or doesn’t include, all represent choices that then can tell you something about how the game views the “real world” as it abstracts from our reality into the reality of the game. I hesitate to go so far as to say the medium is the message, but at the least, it is a medium that is saying something and that “something” is open to analysis and interpretation.
However, this is the point in the course where I started to have niggling concerns about the level of complexity or simplification shown by the various types of included analysis.
I had a jump in the course at this point as it disappeared from Coursera. I had already downloaded all the materials though so that I could work offline, so I could continue, which was good for me. Not that surprising, really…after all, I was almost three years from having first started the course!
The week was about a cultural studies approach to gaming, and for me, there is a constant struggle in CS to studying any culture. If you are part of the culture, it is hard to step back to study it, thus challenging objectivity; if you are not part of the culture, you’re often interpreting that culture from an outside perspective, thus challenging bias and perspective. Yet, to the extent that CS ever allows you to wrestle those two competing challenges to the ground, I accept that gaming culture would include the members, their specialized language, a sense of community, identity representation of self and others, questions of membership (in/out), and how members interrelate.
However, I found myself wanting more depth in the analysis. For example, with modders, I wanted some indication of scope or magnitude, their motivations and desires…it seemed simply descriptive, not truly analytical. Equally, I felt there was room for a deeper dive on the change in commercial distribution channels and Indies, with perhaps some comparative analysis with the music industry, Kickstarter campaigns for inventions, or self-publication of books through Amazon.
Finally, I think COS players warrant some additional consideration. If you want to understand a culture, one of the most basic tools of cultural studies is to look at ways in which they express themselves for both artistry and identity. And the physical embodiment of a video game character would seem to be the ultimate form of that expression. For some, it may simply be a creative challenge — can they make a costume or do the makeup? For others, it could be an opportunity for role play and to experience the game in a different way, not by actually immersing oneself into the game’s reality, but by bringing that reality into the broader world. And for some, it is simply Hallowe’en costume play. Yet there are people who can do it for a living — they’re booked and paid to attend in various costumes at ComicCons, they pose as models for photographers, they travel around the world doing it. It’s a area ripe for potential misinterpretation, but still, I would have liked to see more on it.
The week’s videos have a great history of “fighting” / “violence” in video games from old platform games to cinematic online games. I have more niggling concerns when they get into treating blood and gore as a mere aesthetic, similar to horror movies, partly because of the interactive nature. In the movies, you’re watching and observing; in video games, you’re interacting and causing the mayhem. I see the similarities in questions, but with a key extra component, similar to Roger Ebert’s concerns … does the gameplay take you out of “art” into something more participatory?
As the week progresses, I like their framework for understanding games i.e. risks and rewards, impacts of attacking non-playable characters, or forced moral choices (actual choices or where they are made for you in order to advance the game i.e. often no pacifist solutions).
Overall for the week’s videos, I expected more direct reference to situations like Columbine in the U.S. as one of the “hot button” examples that media pundits like to reference. I was also disappointed that they didn’t explore a bit more of the argument by some psychologists that video game play is not causal of aggression but more likely symptomatic of aggressive tendencies. In other words, aggressive people were likely to play violent games and commit violent acts, not as cause and effect, but as a series of symptoms of their aggression.
The videos range a bit in their content from the history of sex in gaming, ways to imagine sex in gaming (sex as an abstraction, sex as a game goal, sex/gender as a mechanic, sex as an aestethic (including what is “normal), and sex as emergent gameplay), and the role of women in the industry, ranging from marketers using sex to “sell” gaming; designers including sexual content; exploration of gender through cyber-sex roles; and creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
The one area that they lightly touched on in other wording was the question of agency and empowerment, through role models. I was disappointed for example that the summary of Tomb Raider was simply her form and outfits, while totally ignoring that many women liked the fact that they finally had a kick-ass heroine to anchor a highly-playable, highly-successful franchise.
It’s also disappointing that their discussions of women in the industry happened before #GamerGate. It would be interesting to see any updates on those areas in the future.
I’m not sure about the content for the week. At times, I feel they are reaching too far…the idea that a blue army against a red army is an indication of race is no more valid than assuming that someone being a thimble or a racecar in Monopoly tells you about their personal views of objects.
And, yet, I do agree that there can easily be inherent and inherited biases in game design (black dwarves being more evil than light), that racial conflict can serve as a proxy for a larger narrative arc, and that fighting games often include game mechanics framed through a racial lens to control player attributes (strength, intelligence, etc.). I just don’t know if it gets us anywhere.
For the last week, they note that there are lots of types of games that are supposedly “serious” i.e. aimed at serious purposes. In history, the longest running example are wargames, but there are also “tycoon” games about business simulations and broader education games, such as the Oregon Trail or Carmen Sandiego. Games often have to walk a fine line between learning and fun/engagement, but while constructionist tools are often more “fun”, they are also ripe to be subverted by emergent play.
The part I really liked was the ending summary of gamification, namely those tools that some online apps use to gamify their products to keep people playing:
Decay (daily obligations and no way to pause);
Sweetening/achievements (the achievements are shared publicly to encourage competition);
Object rarity (often with luck and duration-of-play time); and,
Social obligation/activation (gift-giving and reciprocity).
If you access gamification as the use of game mechanics in non-game situations, and that it is a whole other field of study (i.e. suitable for another course), it’s not a bad place to end.
(Completed June 2018)
3 / 5
I feel like the platform / style of a MOOC is right for me as a learner…yet I didn’t “stick to it” to do it more quickly. The two professors suggest perhaps if they redid it, they would gamify the course itself to see how it impacted participation. Not sure that would work for those not in the “enrolled for accreditation” portion. Yet, I completed Duo Lingo and liked getting the little badges as I went. Not enough to “share” them on Facebook however. 🙂 I’m into gamified solutions, I’m not a sheep!
As I said, I met my learning objective, and completed another #50by50 item on my list.
As I mentioned in a previous post (My interest in psychology…), I developed a stronger interest in psychology over time — high school, my tadpole years, losing my parents, my relations with my siblings, becoming an aspiring writer, getting married and having a son. Which was a long way around to say that I have wanted to take an introduction to psychology for some time. And given my past experiences, and a desire to access solid curated content, probably a university course, but not necessarily.
I don’t need it for a degree, I don’t even care if I get a credit for it. Then I found out about free MOOCs — massive open online courses. I don’t care about the massive part, I just need someone professional to have curated some content for me to access and work my way through. Open is great, partly as it usually equates to free. Online limits the time commitment required, and allows me to timeshift it easily. I’ve considered EdX, TheGreatCourses, and Coursera, among others, and I started taking one MOOC earlier this year (Understanding Video Games), just to get my feet wet.
Then I saw an article about my grad school alma mater, Carleton University, offering an introduction to psych course as a MOOC. Sounded good. So I contacted the prof, had a brief exchange, and ended up discussing the future of the course as well as the choice of textbooks. The existing program at the time was using the 3rd Canadian edition of a text that is up to the 9th edition in the U.S. I could see that the 4th Canadian edition had been released and I was curious which version he recommended During the exchange, he mentioned they were revamping and updating the course content to match the 4th edition, with a hope too to come up with a cheaper online version of a textbook. I decided to wait to finish my previous MOOC, and look into the Carleton MOOC come the fall. In the end, I haven’t finished the old one yet, but the new one has started, so I’m doing both.
Getting started on the new course
The new semester started, and I went looking for the course. It was much easier to locate this time (back in the Spring, there were about six clicks to get to the course, now it was just two). Much better site signage and user interface. Which augured well for a good experience. Registering, however, was a different kettle of fish. There were four links that were active — two different courses (Part I and Part II of an intro to psych) plus two different offerings (a previous and ongoing version plus a new version). All four links would allow me to see the description, but all four said “You are unable to enrol in this class”. This lasted about 4 weeks, and I had basically decided to focus on the other MOOC course but got distracted with other things in my life, so when I went to go back to the other one, I thought, “Oh, what the heck, try Carleton again first.” This time it went swimmingly. The system is set up well, all the links were active, I could enrol and did, I was good to go.
There are three main components to the course. First and foremost is the textbook. I ordered it through an Amazon affiliate, and it took 10 days for the book to arrive from B.C. Not superfast, but appeared initially cheaper. Textbooks aren’t cheap, and full price was listed at $140; the affiliate had it for $120. And since there are not many used versions available of the 4th edition, I went with new and online, opting for the convenience of having it delivered instead of having to go find it at the campus store. Apparently I should have waited. The professor had negotiated with the publisher for a loose-leaf binder version plus etext version for $95, which probably would have been more efficient than lugging around the hardcover textbook, but I’ll suffer through. My wife is going to University of Ottawa, and as the text is used in lots of intro courses at various universities, she probably could have picked it up there for me too, so online ordering was more convenient, but I had other avenues I just didn’t pursue. But I digress. I have a textbook, the course is free, my internet is already paid for, on with the course.
The course outline follows the textbook chapter by chapter so while the prof jokes in the lecture materials that it is up to the student to use whatever they want (including Harry Potter texts if they prefer), it is definitely recommended to use the same text that the course follows. Cost wasn’t a factor for me, so I am using the officially recommended text.
The second component is the video lectures. Some people say that video lectures make or break MOOCs. Either the professor is engaging or it’s a giant snoozefest. That is in fact the model that the Great Courses company relies upon — finding great professors who are passionate about their material and recording their lectures (and selling them for profit, obviously). I’d love to know if MOOCs has bolstered or hindered The Great Courses business model, but I assume they’ll adapt their own materials to some sort of online option too. The professor set up a “Chapter 00” to explain how the course will work, give some basics about what the course is about, and generally give people a safe sample chapter to experiment with so they see how it all works before the content starts in Chapter 01. The intent for the course is that you read the textbook to get a feel for the material, and then watch the videos.
The intro to MOOC (Chapter 00) was interesting, and the slides referenced in the videos are available for download / printing. Mostly the videos were pretty well done, engaging, and the transitions between slides and videos were pretty solid. This is way better than the video-lectures you see in university-TV courses, these are direct one-on-“one” lectures to you. Kind of like a documentary, or a newscaster speaking directly to you, not someone lecturing at a roomful of other people and you’re just watching.
You might think that since Chapter 00 is just an intro to the course, there wouldn’t be much to review on substance, and you would be right. There was a general overview of how the two courses (Part I and Part II) use the same textbook and divide at chapter 8 of the text (i.e. 1-8 is Part I, 9-16 is Part II), and how they work well together. It wasn’t perfect, but it was solid. Seems petty to even mention but I suspect all MOOCs have some administrative/logistical challenges. For instance, some of the video links said they were 12 minutes long, but the actual video was only 8 minutes long (likely a change from the original video that was there). Secondly, some of the slides shown in the videos were not exactly the same slides as in the download copy — not contradictory, just editing differences showing a version control problem. Nothing substantive, just might confuse some people who are anal-retentive types or nervous taking courses for the first time. Thirdly, and this is more related to the next section, some of the links regarding quizzes were not exactly where the video said they would be on the menu, and another option seemed to be missing altogether. Again, not huge, and I flagged them for the prof just for quality control improvements in the future.
The third part of the course is the evaluation process. There are self-quizzes as you go through the course materials. Each week covers one chapter in the textbook and has multiple smaller videos that go with that, labelled “a” to “g” for example. In between each video is a self-quiz. These are for self-evaluation, just need to complete them. At the end of the videos i.e. the end of each week, there is a chapter quiz — these count towards a grade, are time-limited, represent a pool of questions from which you randomly do 10, and you have two attempts at it if you want (your score is average of the two attempts). Five points for each quiz, etc. This is a bit different from most MOOCs, as most are just for your own benefit. You can get an online certificate saying you completed the course, but you don’t get a university “credit” for it. There are some exceptions (for example, the video game course I’m doing is also taught as a regular university course, and people can register in it normally and do it as part of their semester, with set time limits etc.). This one is also a bit different too. You still do it at your own pace, but once you’ve done 20% of the course and if you pass the first few quizzes, you can transfer to the “full” credit version of the course and pay tuition, etc. It’s the same course, but you get a university credit for it.
One of the benefits they suggest is that this is a great way to get your feet wet “trying out” university. I think it is more accurate to say this is a great way to try out “online self-paced university”, but in-class university and regular distance university are quite different from this version. Still, it’s an interesting option.
There is an optional fourth element for this course, as there is for most MOOCs — an online forum. In it, they encourage people to network, socialize online, share their experiences, etc. For some, I can see the attraction of this; for me, I’m looking for curated content, not a discussion group to debate issues. Plus, one of the complaints often of MOOC participants is that the schedule is messed up — people start the course in January for example, and make a comment in week 2 on one of the readings (say, January 15th). Then someone else comes along, starting in June, and sees the comment and replies to it in their week 2 (say June 15th). So the first person gets an email saying, “Hey, someone replied to your comment” leaving them to wonder, “WTF? What comment? Huh? I finished that course 3 months ago?”. The idea works well if you can get a cohort that moves through it together at essentially the same pace and with similar start and finish dates. Other than that, people who are on week 8 don’t really care what happened way back in week 2. They’ve moved on.
As an aside, there was an interesting “addendum” for the week. Credits. They posted five videos that served as “credits” for the course — with five other sets of people (the Dean, another prof, some techies, a student, etc) all talking about the course, how it worked, wishing people well, etc. Two were just formal (the Dean, another prof) and could be easily skipped. One was highly amusing as two profs (I think they were profs) did a small series of stand-up skits about how much trouble they have helping out (i.e. sample — “Turn on the computer — okay….do you come here often?”). Cheesy, but not completely lame, humour. Well-done, engaging, and completely irrelevant — I have no idea who they were, what they have to do with the course, why they were doing credits, nada. I presume they helped the prof with reviewing the content perhaps. But there’s no way to know, it’s just them being friendly, and mildly amusing. The best of the batch was one by a student talking about tips on how to stay motivated, keep to a schedule, get the most out of the course, etc. Useful advice, likely watched by almost no one taking the course. After the Dean said “thank you, good luck” for 2 minutes, they likely would assume “nothing I need here and skip the rest of the page”. The last one with the student isn’t even identified as HAVING TIPS, which would increase its viewership.
Why mention all this? Because part of what I’m doing is evaluating the medium and how it engages me or not. Maybe that will be of interest, perhaps not. But every “chapter” review or week’s coverage will also cover that’s week “medium” too, not just the content.
Way back in the dark ages of high school, I took a course that was an introduction to psychology and sociology. I don’t remember what it was called, and I seem to think it was supposed to be one or the other, but ended up being done as a combination when enrolment was low. I don’t remember that much from the course. It was okay, semi-interesting, but it didn’t compel me to want to do a degree in it or anything. Later, when I had electives available in university, it didn’t make my list. Mind you, that was some 30 years ago, when I think they still lobotomized people to let their demons out, so probably not all that useful to me even if I had taken it. 🙂
But as I got older and went through difficult periods in my life, or even just large periods of change and self-reflection, I started to think more and more about how the brain works, how personalities develop, how people misuse their brain to trick themselves into ways of thinking that are not optimal, efficient or even helpful. Self-sabotaging behaviour that your brain either hides or actively encourages vs. ways it helps itself heal. Some moments in my life stand out.
First and foremost was my change in “who I was” going from high school to university to law school to working stiff, through my “tadpole years” of self-reflection and change, and who I became. What pieces were engrained, immutable, part of my bedrock personality and how did they become so? Nature vs. nurture, on a micro-level.
Second, there was the loss of my parents. Similarities in experience yet vast differences too. Was it my age? Change in my support network? Had I just grown more?
Third, the elements of family. I was the youngest of six kids. I discount most of the pop psych about birth order, mostly because I think psych is about individuals, not statistics about groups, but I find one area intriguing. Growing up, I didn’t know my one brother very well. He moved out of the house when I was 5 or 6, and I didn’t interact with him a lot in the next 20 years. It wasn’t like we didn’t see each other, but we were never “close”. In fact, of my five siblings, I would say he was the farthest away in relations. Yet, when we reconnected when I was 30 and he was 40, we experienced a natural bond we had never felt before. It happened over dinner one night — a dinner that almost didn’t happen. He was in town for work, and it wasn’t like “Oh, obviously we’ll do this or that together.” It was more like, “Hey, so, he’s in town. We should probably see each other. Maybe dinner or something?”. Very tentative, like, we *should* do something, shouldn’t we? Wouldn’t most siblings see each other if they were in town? Yeah, we agreed on dinner. And part of the night was like we were finishing each other’s sentences. Even though we have led very different lives — he had been married, had six kids, was very independent early in life, and had been in the military for 20 years; I was the pampered youngest child, not married, no kids, lived at home up until law school — there was an immediate real connection, way beyond friendship, beyond just family. Like somehow our souls knew each other from some other time and place and met up for a beer. Now, I consider him one of my closest siblings and friends. How do our different yet similar beginnings produce vastly different lives and outcomes yet our psyches retain some common elements that look like genetics? Again, nurture vs. nature. Equally, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how they’ve always been close to a sibling, while I’ve been close to different siblings at different parts of my life — close to my next-oldest sibling, a brother, when I was young, say up to age 14; close to my second-oldest sibling in my late teen years; close to my oldest sister and her son when I came back from university and up until my Dad died, and then again more recently; close to my other sister, third oldest, after my dad died and for a number of years afterwards; and closest to my “middle” brother (fourth-oldest) as mentioned above. A wax-and-wane type experience.
Fourth, I became an aspiring writer. I need to know how to access the psyche of a fictional character, how to get into their head and write what THEY would do, not what I would do if I was pretending to be them. To figure out how to flesh the character out fully — the role of hero, villain, mistress, husband — and how to make them real, not names or formulaic archetypes.
Lastly, I became a husband and a father within the same year. Huge changes in my life and in my roles as a person. What role does my behaviour play in my son’s development? He has had some physical challenges, and almost everything he has faced, regardless of what we have done to help him, it really is just him overcoming them on his own. Outgrowing some stuff, ignoring others, figuring out the rest. We help, but the biggest difference over time is just him being awesome. Is it just nature?
All of which has led to a renewed interest in psychology. I don’t want to do a full degree, with electives, exams, papers, etc. I just want the knowledge, not a piece of paper to certify it. And while I can find it just about anywhere (library, internet, Amazon, etc.), what I really wanted is what I always want when looking at a new area — curated content. The fruits of the labour of someone who has already trod the same path before me, who says, “Here is a good framework to understand an issue” and “Here’s some stuff you should read”. I may develop strong interest in certain areas of psychology like child development, but to start, I really wanted a good overview to show me the whole canvas, not the exciting brush strokes in one corner.
Instead of just buying a textbook and reading it, I found a free online psych course, with credentials behind it to reassure me it’s not some quack throwing stuff up on a blog (hey, wait a minute, says my id, but we’ll ignore him for now).