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Opencourseware to complement courses a waste of time?

  1. Jan 23, 2014 #1
    Opencourseware to complement courses a waste of time???

    Ok, last semester and this semester, I have been trying to utilize opencourseware to complement my courses. However, I felt it was very difficult since different courses from different colleges cover varying topics, substantially increasing my workload. On the other hand, I really didn't like the idea that there were a lot of things I'd miss out on if I didn't try to study all I could.

    Upon talking about it to one of my professors (and him being aware I am a physics major), he told me that for the most part, OCW to complement my courses is a waste of time. As an example, he said a lot of what I saw in Calc II and what I'm seeing in Calc III I will either never use in my profession down the road or when I do, I will be using programs like Mathematica rather than figuring it out by hand. He said that for my major, the only courses it would really benefit me to take fall into one of two categories:

    1) Courses that aren't required for my major but are good to have, such as computer programming and math courses that I haven't taken and don't plan to take. (This will free up my actual college courses for other electives)

    2) Courses that are directly involved in physics. He said this is the only type of courses that would actually make sense to use to complement courses, but even then he said just skim over them and only spend time on the stuff I've never seen yet.

    He said the rest of the stuff that I haven't seen *yet* that I will need to know for my sub-field I will eventually start to see so much that it is pointless to spread myself as thin as I am right now. Since he was an MIT grad, I did point out how much more comprehensive I felt some of their courses were compared to ours. However, he stated while MIT courses are very rigorous, they also throw so much by you at once that you end up forgetting half of it the day after your final exams. He said while MIT was great for grad school, he wished he went somewhere else for undergrad because he had to spend so much time on things he never used again down the road.

    While I respect his statements and it sounds like sound advice, I would like to get other people's experience who have been through all this? I just feel I have so much to learn and never really know what is most efficient to spend my time on. Now after talking to him, it seems like I have been focusing a lot of my attention on learning things I may or may not ever use down the road. I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has been in my shoes?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2014 #2


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    OCW is vastly overhyped. If you want to learn about a subject in more depth, get a book out of the library that covers it in more depth.
  4. Jan 23, 2014 #3
    I agree as far as OCW. The more time I spent on them, the more I realized they are very time-consuming because they are incomplete and/or disorganized. That was actually a part of the reason I brought them up to my professor. I do like the MOOCs though from edX (not auditing them after the course though because they too tend to be incomplete).

    Anyway, I will definitely have to consider using library resources over some of the OCW material. The library is actually what I used to brush back up on my math prior to enrolling in college and it treated me pretty well. Thanks for the feedback.
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