Monday, 8 February 2016

TCFEX Courses on Udemy: a review

When it comes to technical MOOCs, I am a staunch Udemy fan. I really like how course materials on Udemy are mostly video and organised in a chapter-like way, segueing you seamlessly from element to element.

Having been pondering doing my PhD for about a year, in August 2015 I got a Udemy specials emailer with some research-related courses advertised. I signed up for two free courses from an Israeli educator called  TCFEX LLC. The papers I signed up for were "Write Research Papers & Get Your Research Published" and "Overview of Research Tools & Writing a research proposal". 

Most of  TCFEX's papers are $300 a pop, so auditing a couple of courses for free seemed like a good idea. Then in January 2016, I got another Udemy specials emailer with two other TCFEX units for USD$10 each: "Writing a Thesis, Paper or Research Project: Getting Started" and "Transform your Research Paper Writing: Starting to Write".

I signed up for both - for NZD$30 for the two - or one fifth the price of an academic textbook. Even if the courses told me nothing new, this was a low-risk investment.

I started watching the "Overview of Research Tools & Writing a research proposal" course - signed up for in August but not yet started - first, as I figured that would be the first in the series of what I had signed up for.

However, this appears to be the last in the series... however, it does seem to stand fairly well alone, so I have persevered.

Having now almost completed this - last - course, I have learned some new things. It very briefly explores search engines, databases, h-factors, ISI ratings, citation indexing, keywords and the research proposal structure. There are some interesting writing tips, but the main benefit is access to a MindMeister mind map packed full of research tools which all the TCFEX courses appear to be based around (link here).

This mindmap really is a treasure trove. It contains a lot of resources which I had not previously discovered, and which will be very useful in both my teaching and writing.

However, the courses themselves are like the difference between a screenplay and a book: a screenplay has a skeletal outline and only just links the elements. The TCFEX courses are screenplays. Exploration of the elements is extremely brief, just giving us the sketchiest reasons for a more comprehensive exploration of the tools.

However, it is enough to start us off: we can then decide how much we need to focus on each tool, or whether to discard it.

I will complete all four units, but I suspect that there will be a fair bit of repetition between all the units that I have bought - having already had a bit of a preview of the others while trying to work out which one I should be starting with.

When considering post-graduate studies, the courses are definitely worth a look if free or on special at USD$10. In my view they are not worth anywhere near the normal price of USD$300 each, though.



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