Monday, August 6, 2012

Edupunks Anonymous?

I'm Nara Malone and I'm an Edupunk. I'm such an Edupunk that I was a DIY student back in the days when I connected to institutions of higher learning via dial-up over a 2400 baud modem. I was an Edupunk back in the days when it was know by the old-school name of Autodidact.  If you're still confused, I am a self-directed learner, preferring to get my education while doing rather than while sitting in a classroom.

I blame my father. He hooked me when I was 12, dooming me with a box of art supplies and worn copies of a correspondence course in commercial art. Later, we studied a course in art appreciation together, with materials supplied monthly by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He ruined me-- teaching me that learning wasn't something meant for classrooms alone, that it could involve learning things you wanted to know, that you could do it as a family, that even dads could still learn a thing or two.

So now I'm hooked and like a god learning junkie I'm here to try and pass my addiction on to you. Here is a countdown of the top five reasons you should join the Edupunk movement and  join the ranks of the self-schooled this fall.

5. It'll be fun.

4. You know there is something you always wanted to learn but were afraid to try.

3. Because smart is sexy.

2. Because if NYC Mayor Bloomberg can unleash his inner-geek at an online academy, so can you.

1. Because I can show you how to do it for free.

I'm going to leave you room to explore and make your educational adventures what you need them to be. Here is a  list of five resources, ranging in order of the most structured offerings to the least. Choose what fits your needs and learning style. But beware, you could get hooked. I have participated in all the below and many others beside. I can't stop. I may need therapy or some kind of DIY Edupunk 12 step recovery program.

Coursera Structured like a traditional learning experience. Study courses from 16 prestigious schools around the globe, like Princeton or University of Edinburgh.

CodeAcademy This is a structured program you do at your own pace. It is easy and fun. Whether you want to make your own website, understand why your computer ignores your wishes, or build your own robots, you can find something that suits here.

OpenCourseWare(OCW) Consortium is an site where materials and study plans for courses offered at more than 200 institutions from 32 countries is made available free for your personal studies. This collection includes every course offered at MIT. Interested in Photo Journalism?

P2PU Here you can get in on the cutting edge of education. Learning is planned and carried out with a group of like-minded peers. Earn badges for progress (think scouting merit badges or leveling-up in a game) .

World Wide Web Call me a purist but I still like a total DIY approach and here are just a couple of the resources I've come to love in my mining of the web for a knowledge fix: dVersePoets (they teach a mini-lesson on from every Thursday) and my favorite list of educational articles on writing Flash Fiction by Bruce Holland Rogers

Happy learning everyone. I hope to see you turning up in some of these great Edupunk hangouts on the web.

Visit Nara at her blog: or grab her newest novel Blind Heat, available now from Ellora's Cave.


  1. What a cool dad you have! You've inspired me, and I even checked out P2PU! It looks just a tad over my head on the techie level (or miles, depending on the class), but I'll have fun browsing! Thanks for reminding us that it's never too late.

  2. Nara, another writer friend, and I are all signed up for a course through coursera at present - SF/Fantasy. It's reminded me that college courses are sort of like child birth - with the distance of time, you forget it was a pain in your ass.

    And if you enjoyed code academy, you'll LOVE "Code Hero".