Category Archives: Free Education

Free Education Project – December 2013 Update

My project is moving along nicely. I’ve created the habit of waking around 5am, making my coffee and settling down for a few hours of study before anyone wakes up. This procedure seems to work very well for me. I’ve been focusing my energies on the content from Treehouse and I’ve already recorded 27 Achievements, mostly in the web design area.

I was inspired to work a little harder by one of my classmates from Intro to Financial Accounting, the man behind HomemadeMBA.com. His plan and his progress on the plan are truly remarkable.


COMPLETED

Click HERE to see my Report Card


WORKING ON NOW

Web Design‘ Track at Treehouse [$25/month]
Focusing on CSS right now, PHP will be next.


ONGOING

Read 2 books each month [Free from library]
Reading has suffered a bit because I am turning in early to be up at 5am. See my book reports and reading list HERE.

2 weekly posts to this website [Free WordPress.com]
On track with a solid base of content on this site.

Dave Ramsey podcasts for finance tips [Free on iTunes]
Still enjoying several episodes every week.


ABANDONED

Grammar Girl podcasts for writing tips [Free on iTunes]
Listened to 6 episodes but it really wasn’t my thing so I moved on.


WHAT MIGHT BE NEXT?

Learn French at duoLingo [free online]
Khan Academy ‘Finance & Capital Markets‘ module [Free online]
Khan Academy ‘Microeconomics‘ module [Free online]
Khan Academy ‘Macroeconomics‘ module [Free online]
Intro to Computer Science‘ class at HarvardX [Free online]
Learn JavaScript‘ at Codeacademy [Free online]
Intro to Computer Science‘ class at Udacity [Free online]
Intro to Programming in Java‘ class at Udacity [Free online]
FileMaker Pro 12 Certification [$20 for training materials, $150 for exam]
Shopify ‘Build a Business‘ competition (10-1-14) [$168 – 1yr subscription]
National Novel Writing Month (11-1-14) [Free online]
Publish a book on CreateSpace [Free – books printed on demand]


ACTUAL $$ SPENT:
Aug internet – $30
Sep internet – $30
Oct internet – $30
Nov internet – $30
Dec internet – $30
Nov Treehouse – $25
Dec Treehouse – $25
Total Spent So Far – $200


Free Education Project – November 2013 Update

In August, I started my first class as part of the ‘Free Education Project’. To recap, this project is my own personalized curriculum of things that interest me from content delivered for free (or at a very minimal cost) via the internet. My first class is going quite well (see below). Since creating the first versions of my curriculum, I’ve decided to tweak the process further. Rather than adhere to a finite time line or predetermined class list, the newest outline calls for me to concentrate fully on the class or task at hand and THEN choose what to pursue next. However… the concept of spending as little as possible still applies.

WORKING ON NOW

Learn WordPress’ Track at Treehouse [$25/month]
Learning to install, setup, manage & customize WordPress.


ONGOING

Read 2 books each month [Free from library]
On track. See my book reports and reading list HERE.

2 weekly posts to this website [Free WordPress.com]
On track. I’ve built up 8 draft posts in addition to what has already been posted.

Dave Ramsey podcasts for finance tips [Free on iTunes]
Haven’t missed an episode in several months. Incidentally, D.O.D. and I are on Baby Step 2 and will be debt free in early 2014!


COMPLETED

Coursera ‘Intro to Financial Accounting‘ from U. Penn. Wharton [Free online]
Certificate of completion (pending) 11/22/13.

Final score 79.8/100

(Two lowest Homework scores dropped)
Week 1 Homework – 9.6/10
Week 2 Homework – 8.4/10
Week 3 Homework – 7.0/10
Week 4 Homework – 8.8/10
Mid Course Exam I – 10.4/12
Mid Course Exam II – 5/8
Week 5 Homework – 8.6/10
Week 6 Homework – 7.2/10
Week 7 Homework – 6.4/10
Week 8 Homework – 7.6/10
Final Exam I – 9.2/12
Final Exam II – 5/8

——-

Xero cloud based accounting software certification [Free *Paid by employer]
Completed 2 day certification course 8/23/13.


ABANDONED

Grammar Girl podcasts for writing tips [Free on iTunes]
Listened to 6 episodes but it really wasn’t my thing so I moved on.


WHAT MIGHT BE NEXT?

Learn French at duoLingo [free online]
Khan Academy ‘Finance & Capital Markets‘ module [Free online]
Khan Academy ‘Microeconomics‘ module [Free online]
Khan Academy ‘Macroeconomics‘ module [Free online]
Intro to Computer Science‘ class at HarvardX [Free online]
Learn JavaScript‘ at Codeacademy [Free online]
Intro to Computer Science‘ class at Udacity [Free online]
Intro to Programming in Java‘ class at Udacity [Free online]
FileMaker Pro 12 Certification [$20 for training materials, $150 for exam]
Shopify ‘Build a Business‘ competition (10-1-14) [$168 – 1yr subscription]
National Novel Writing Month (11-1-14) [Free online]
Publish a book on CreateSpace [Free – books printed on demand]


ACTUAL $$ SPENT:
Aug internet – $30
Sep internet – $30
Oct internet – $30
Nov internet – $30
Nov Treehouse – $25
Total Spent So Far – $145


Book Reports & Reading List

Books by shutterhacks

UPDATED 10-12-13

Sometimes we overlook the simplest and most cost effective method of education – reading. Books are an important part of my ‘Free Education Project‘ and this page will be used to summarize the ones I complete as well as the ones I plan to read.

In the age of $100k student loans, it is important to note that every book on this list was acquired for less than $10. The most obvious source for virtually any book is the library (free). However, some titles I prefer to keep and re-read. Those are readily available used from Amazon and Paperback Swap.


READING NOW

One Last Strike by Tony LaRussa & Rick Hummel


COMPLETED

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas (Read October 2013) – Ilgunas was a typical college graduate of the 2000’s – $32K of student debt with a starting salary that would make paying off that debt next to impossible. The book outlines the unique path he took to pay off the loan and chronicles how he earned a graduate degree from Duke with no new debt. (7.5/10)

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (Read September 2013) – The author arrived in Venice, Italy just a few days after a fire destroyed the Teatro La Fenice opera house. During his time living there, he crafted an intimate portrait of the city and the people who call it home. (Rating: 7/10)

The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young, Ph.D. (Read August 2013) – The book’s basic message is that a balanced pH environment in your body (slightly alkaline or ‘base’) is essential for good health. The author believes a mostly green, plant based diet along with proper supplements is the key to weight loss and eliminating disease. The book also features over a hundred simple vegan recipes. (Rating: 7/10)

Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir by A.E. Hotchner (Read August 2013) – An entertaining collection of stories and insights into the life of writer Ernest Hemingway. Hotchner was a trusted friend and business associate of Hemingway and this memoir provides a behind the scenes look into the writer’s methods and lifestyle. (Rating: 7/10)

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz (Read August 2013) – The book may be over 50 years old, but the principles contained within are priceless. The author points out how most of the time, we are our own biggest enemy on the road to success. This book provides some proven ideas to help overcome obstacles and shift thinking into success mode. Some of the material and verbiage is dated, but the ideas in this book are timeless. This is one of those books that I plan to re-read every year. (Rating: 10/10)

Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities by Jeffery Rosenthal (Read July 2013) – This easy to read and entertaining book explored the subject of probabilities as they relate to our everyday lives. The author highlighted the fact that sometimes the things we worry about the most are in fact the least likely to occur (i.e. plane crashes). The chapter about probability in casino games clearly illustrated why gambling odds are stacked in the house’s favor. (Rating: 7/10)

Work Less & Play More by Steven Catlin (Read July 2013) – Great find! Short succinct chapters make this an excellent starting point for someone who doesn’t want to waste their life “working for the man”. Common sense (avoid credit, limit possessions, create a Personal Treasury) mixed with interesting views about minimalism. Views not too different from those of Dave Ramsey (see above). I appreciated the author’s explanation of ‘consequence costs’ – often ignored upkeep & maintenance expenses for the things we buy. (Rating: 8/10)

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (Read June 2013) – A book that should be required reading for every high school senior. Ramsey presents common sense financial advice in the form of 7 Baby Steps (Create $1000 emergency fund, Pay off all debt, Save 3-6 months living expenses, Invest 15% of household income, Create college fund for children, Pay off mortgage early, Build wealth & give). His foolproof advice forms the base for a solid financial future. (Rating: 10/10)


ON MY LIST

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker

Toward Rational Exuberance: Evolution of the Stock Market by B. Mark Smith

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes

The Dreadful Lemon Sky by John D. MacDonald

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

The Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren, Jesse Pruet

The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio

Make Money for Bob by Bob Gourley

The Boyhood Memoirs of A.E. Hotchner by A.E. Hotchner

The Wild Vine by Todd Kliman

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs

How To Live 365 Days A Year by John Schindler

Luck Is No Accident by John Krumholtz & Al Levin

Economics Explained by Robert Heilbroner and Lester Thurow

Free Education Project – September 2013 Update

belushi in animal house by Franchize11In June, I wrote about the ‘Free Education Project’, my own personalized curriculum of things that interest me from content delivered for free (or at a very minimal cost) via the internet. In July, I created the curriculum for the project, and in August (just like the fine student pictured here) I went back to school.

Since July, I’ve tweaked the curriculum a bit, added a couple things and deleted a couple others. However, the cost for the educational program outlined below is still less than $1000. Below is an update of how things have been going so far….

• Read 2 books each month (Free from library)
On track – see my book reports and reading list HERE.

• 2 weekly posts to this website [Free WordPress.com]
On track – building up some draft material in addition to what has been posted.

• Grammar Girl podcasts for writing tips [Free on iTunes]
Have missed about a dozen episodes because I neglected to turn on the subscription in the Grammar Girl podcast settings. Duh! 😉

• Dave Ramsey podcasts for finance tips [Free on iTunes]
Haven’t missed an episode in several months. Incidentally, D.O.D. and I are on Baby Step 2 and will be debt free in early 2014!

• Xero cloud based accounting software certification [Free *Paid by employer]
Completed 2 day certification course 8/23/13. Took the test on 8/25/13, but only scored 17/25. Will attempt again.

• Coursera ‘Intro to Financial Accounting’ from U. Penn. Wharton [Free online]
Completed Week 1 – scored 96% on first homework assignment.

• Enter Shopify ‘Build a Business’ competition [$168 – 1 yr Shopify subscription]
Brainstorming to choose a product/path for the competition.

• Khan Academy ‘Math’ module [Free online]
Entered the Learning Dashboard for the World of Math.

• Khan Academy ‘Finance & Capital Markets’ module [Free online]

• Khan Academy ‘Microeconomics’ module [Free online]

• Khan Academy ‘Macroeconomics’ module [Free online]

• ‘Intro to Computer Science’ class at Udacity [Free online]

• ‘Intro to Programming in Java’ class at Udacity [Free online]

• ‘Learn WordPress’ Learning Adventure at Treehouse [$250 -1yr subscription]

• ‘Learn Javascript and jQuery’ Learning Adventure at Treehouse [*see above]

• FileMaker Pro 12 Certification [$20 for training materials, $150 for exam]


TOTAL PROJECTED COST:
$588 plus internet connection @ $30/month

ACTUAL $$ SPENT:
Aug internet – $30
Sep internet – $30
Total Spent So Far – $60


Free Education Project Curriculum

Last month I wrote about creating my own personalized curriculum of things that interest me from content delivered for free (or at a very minimal cost) via the internet. I called it the ‘Free Education Project’. (It is important to give proper credit to author Chris Guillebeau and his Alternative Graduate School Program. I’ve borrowed several of his concepts for this project).

Studying by Skakerman

I suspect it will take 18 months (Jan 2015) and less than $800 to complete the curriculum listed below [cost noted for each line]…..


  • Read 2 books each month from my reading list. [Free from library]
  • Follow a schedule of 2 posts per week, Sunday & Wednesday, to www.thefishchronicles.com. [Free using WordPress.com]
  • Listen to Grammar Girl podcasts (1x per week) to get tips for better writing. [Free on iTunes]
  • Listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts (3x per week) to get personal finance tips. [Free on iTunes]
  • Complete certification for Xero cloud based accounting software, the accounting software used at my workplace. [Free *$199 fee paid by my employer* scheduled 8/22 – 8/23]
  • Complete ‘An Intro to Financial Accounting‘, Univ. of Pennsylvania Wharton via Coursera [Free online, scheduled 9/16 – 11/25]
  • Update skills with Khan Academy ‘Algebra‘ module. [Free online learning]
  • Update skills with Khan Academy ‘Geometry‘ module. [Free online learning]
  • Update skills with Khan Academy ‘Probability‘ module. [Free online learning]
  • Complete Khan Academy ‘Finance & Capital Markets‘ module. [Free online learning]
  • Complete Khan Academy ‘Microeconomics‘ module. [Free online learning]
  • Complete Khan Academy ‘Macroeconomics‘ module. [Free online learning]
  • Complete ‘Intro to Computer Science‘ class at Udacity. [Free online learning]
  • Complete ‘Intro to Programming in Java‘ class at Udacity. [Free online learning]
  • Complete the ‘Learn WordPress‘ Learning Adventure at Treehouse. [$250 for a one year subscription]
  • Complete the ‘Learn Javascript and jQuery‘ Learning Adventure at Treehouse. [*see above]
  • Complete FileMaker Pro 12 Certification, the database software used at my workplace. [$20 for training materials, $150 for exam]
  • Create an idea. [Free – meditate, walk, browse the internet, talk to people]
  • Launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the idea. [Free]
  • Open a Shopify online store based upon the idea. [$152 for a one year plan]

Following the curriculum outlined above will provide me the equivalent of an advanced degree that costs traditional university students tens of thousands of dollars. The project will be comprised of subjects that are of great interest to me and also lend value to my daily work. I’ll complete my ‘degree’ for less than $1,000 and finish at my own pace with no debt. Upon completing the project, I’ll have an online store that has a high probability of generating revenue from Day 1.

I’ll provide updates from time to time about how the ‘Free Education Project’ is progressing. Thanks for reading – comments are always appreciated!