Coursera and the Art of Brevity

I admit it: I have a problem. My family is concerned, my friends are perplexed and my boyfriend is beginning to despair. Due to a crippling psychological disorder, I am physically unable to allow pockets of free time to creep into my hectic work-life schedule.

That’s not to say that I’m some kind of superwoman. Far from it. I’m just as susceptible as the next person to naps and YouTube and all-encompassing hangovers that last until 10pm the following day. My problem is that I see a week of free evenings stretching out ahead of me and, instead of thinking, “Great! I’ll piss about and go to the pub and watch an entire series of House of Cards,” I think to myself, “Great! I’ll learn Spanish and write a novel and master macroeconomics.” At which point I piss about, go to the pub, watch an entire series of House of Cards, then panic and try to squeeze 6 months’ worth of intellectual activity into the hours I should be sleeping on a Sunday night.

The latest enabler of my addiction is Coursera. If you haven’t discovered it yet, take a look: it’s amazing. Coursera is a website where you can sign up for online versions of degree modules from major universities, wherever you are in the world, for free. These are made up of video lectures and set reading, and are assessed through multiple choice tests or short essays, depending on the demands of the course.

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