Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology
The course is more of an overview of dinosaurs combined with paleobiology with a bit of geologic timelines and historical geography.
Coursera offers over 600 free courses on a variety of subject. They offer a certificate of achievement on some of the course, but there is a fee and you have to stick to the timelines given to complete quizzes/assignments.
The number one reason I like it was it a learn at your own pace (if free option selected). On the forums, I noticed some retired people completed the course within a few days. I tried to keep up with doing a course a week on Saturdays, but got behind and when I caught up I worked ahead.
I also it because it was video lectures chopped down to easily digestible chunks between 5 to 20 minutes long, with most being under 15 minutes, so it was easier to fit into my schedule than starting a 30-40 minute lecture and having to stop in the middle and leave it unfinished or not start it at all because I didn’t feel I had the time.
There were several interactives, like the above dinosaur tree where you match the dinosaurs with the grouping and the hip bones (answers covered up, of course). There were also questions that were asked during the lesson with check boxes to get you thinking about content and you could check your answer, but it was not part of the grading…it was just to get your brain fired up to learn the subject.
There was a home-schooler as young as 12 taking the course, but it is by no means a breeze through; you really had to listen to the course content and comprehend it to pass the quizzes (although there was typically only 5 multiple choice questions and you had the opportunity to retake each one). By the fourth lesson, I was taking notes and referring back to them in later lessons as some information does build on earlier lessons and I would suggest taking notes from the very beginning.
I didn’t have time to interact much in the forums, but there are opportunities to meet like-minded people there and interact with them.
While the course is completed, it did state on the website that next class is September 2014 if you are interested in joining.