Gamified Khan

I do not exactly know when this happened, but Khan Academy, the famous crash course video site platform for numerous topics, did a restructuring of its website layout. No, the world did not end with it but I am not sure if it is entirely a good or a bad thing. It will fall into this vague, semi-good and semi-bad evaluation as far as I am concerned.

Their study “mission” and badge-based system kind of reminds me of Codecademy. But it’s more fast-paced than the code-intense UI of Codecademy. For fun, I tried Algebra I mission and it’s pretty decent if you need a refresher or to brush up on your skills:

Study at Khan Academy with a Mission

Study at Khan Academy with a Mission

Apart from that, they are now developing some soft learning tracks, something which did not exist before. (The last time I logged in here, this was a hodge podge of topics like a Youtube for study materials.)

A More Hierarchical Khan Academy Subject Listing

A More Hierarchical Khan Academy Subject Listing

I have really mixed emotions about the overhaul. It tried to be like the other learning websites in a way, so I feel a little bummed looking at it again for the first time. I am quite used to the layout of the other websites and Khan’s redesign kind of stripped its “anything goes for learning” vibe. It’s organized but for me, it kind of lost its uniqueness as a learning platform because it just conformed with the other websites like EDX or Coursera or Udacity or Canvas. Considering that Khan is probably one of the earlier pioneers for online learning, I was a little surprised that they gave in to peer pressure and identified similar features like those being espoused by their contemporaries.

I do wish this website all the best, though. Way back when MOOC was not a buzz word, they had been uploading numerous instructional videos. Before I made a life hack out of my learning targets through online resources, I actually relied on Khan academy to give me a crash course on things I want to know about but not completely specialize in. Khan was the go-to site of people who just want basic crash courses with no coursework requirements or needs to elevate one’s status with gamified badges. Now, I only have Youtube. But that’s enough, I guess. Youtube’s okay but it’s too broad. Khan was at least education-centric. I think Khan was a comfort zone. The way it was structured before was geared for enthusiasts. It’s just more packaged now, and I think their change marks an end of an era of loosely collating learning resources.

It appears that everyone is now specializing. While it’s impressive on paper, a more well-rounded convergence of industries is more intellectually interesting for me. I cannot seriously find myself being confined to specializing only in one thing. It’s difficult to keep or maintain at first but the rewards of being able to make uncanny and not-so-apparent connections between different subjects is enough drive to keep me on with whatever it is I am doing, learning-wise. It is not something I can recommend to people because it eats up more time than usual but if people have their idiosyncratic addictions that bleed their wallets dry, I have my learning plans. Learning new things is my heroine. Some people say it’s an insane way but I think that some good things are coming out of it, really good things. I am actually starting to reap the fruits of dipping my finger in every knowledge pie that I can get my hands on, and it’s surprisingly really good and exciting each time. I cannot really see myself doing otherwise, though my balance of time and energy can still use a lot of work. XD

 

Data Janitress

Ever since I started working with data, I had this feeling that I am really more of a janitress of dirty data than an engineer. Really! So much time is devoted to cleaning data than making awesome visualizations out of it. And there are actually two modules in my online education that attest to the fact that I am meant to help sweep the digital debris into more sound data analysis.

There is so little use to deriving and making algorithms pop on your PC if your input data is garbage or cluttered.

My most recent “Data Sayangtist to Data Scientist” project’s exploit is the Data Cleaning course at Coursera.

Getting and Cleaning Data at Coursera

Getting and Cleaning Data at Coursera

 

A week before the new year kicked in, I had a non-technical primer from Data Journalism module on dealing with messy data for making compelling stories:

Data Cleaning from European Center for Journalism's Canvas Course

Data Cleaning from European Center for Journalism’s Canvas Course

Apparently there are so many people harnessing the ease of using the Internet and a few souls are committed to keeping it clean and tidy on the backend or at least on the analysis end. 🙂 It’s a good place to work on because few people are willing to do it. That’s always my thing; I like going to places that nobody wants, work-wise. I took a course not familiar to many people my age. I engaged in projects that few people think as a suicide mission. And I make unconventional choices. It has never failed me. Being thrown on the deep end of the learning curve is high stress, but the returns are fantabulous!

On the practical side, I tried working on a disaster management information management system project and most of my time was spent scripting primitively encoded Excel sheets into database-friendly, geocoded csv format. I also did some work on exploring or researching standardization options in government datasets and BOY, this continues to consume much of my time this year. It will continue to eat my life as we speak. Yep, janitress life, hello hello!

Cleaning is not fun in itself but the possibilities that happen after you clean the data are reason to keep myself motivated. 🙂

And there is so much data worth cleaning online and offline. My wish list is really bordering on storing huge amounts of analyzable data than expensive objects or frequent out of town trips. I am actually content staying behind my computer and studying these things 80-90% of my time this year. Of course, having a vacation occasionally won’t hurt. 😉 That’s why I am also cooking some travel things up to balance my innate introverted nature compounded by my choice of work.

Data cleanliness is really next to data analysis godliness! 😀