Complexity 101 online course introductory overview

This is a momentous day.  Last evening, Friday, June 5, 2015, I uploaded part 3 of a 2.5-hour introductory overview lecture of our flagship class — Complexity (Systems) 101, the entry point into our entire Earth Studies Program — to Ermah Ge’s new site for online courses.

It is here — but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read this introduction for context before jumping in.  (Note: you’ll have to “enroll” — meaning register with user name, email and password — before you get to the lecture and course offerings, but “enroll” doesn’t carry any payment or commitment.  You’ll get to make a decision about that at a later time.)

{Speaking of payment, I’m sincerely hoping that — even though it will be a few days before the first lesson (science as a way of knowing) is posted —  some viewers will pre-pay for the class.  My transition to Portland has been costly, and I need to rent a room here, plus purchase a new Mac Book Pro (since both my computers are on their last legs) to facilitate video production and for mobile presentations.  I anticipate posting one less per week until completion.}

By year’s end, I intend to make all of our “101’s” — our introductory courses in system sciences, biology, geophysiology, climate and adaptability — available as streaming videos.  Then, anyone any where on Earth will be able to watch free introductory overview lectures of each course, then enroll in the class, pay with credit card or paypal, and begin the course.

Students and associates have encouraged me to do this for years, and I’ve intended to.  But all the technology to do so has only recently become available at a reasonable price point, most notably an online host for our courses.  (I chose Fedora after much consideration; I like their service and business model.)

Overall, I’m quite happy with the introductory lecture.  However, like everything else I do, it’s not the final version.  It will evolve.  This is my first ever video of an introductory lecture.  During the last few months, I’ve produced several videos, and posted them online, but they had different purposes.  (More on those another day.)

But this intro lecture is my first of its kind.  And I encountered three challenges in its production.  (Here are the reasons that even though I feel that it’s quality, it’s not as good as the next version will be.)  First, in all previous cases of offering intro lectures, I’ve had a live audience, and I get lots of body language feedback from an audience.  I can feel their enthusiasm — which gives us positive feedback — or detect quizzical expressions when they don’t understand a point, offering me a chance to explain something differently.  That was missing in this process.  So I hope the first viewers — especially my students, advisors and associates — will provide that so I can improve it.

Second, I’ve produced this video during the last week, just after arriving in Portland OR, and I’m still in transition.  I haven’t found a ‘permanent’ place to live here yet — my next blog post will be a step in that effort — so I’m still couch surfing, and thus don’t have a comfortable workstation set up yet for video production.  That matters!   (You’ll hear a loud cat and some power tools being used next door.)

And third, I’ve been struggling with a cold and one of the most persistent cases of bronchitis in years.  You’ll hear my hoarse voice in a couple of places.  And you can’t even imagine how many coughs I edited out!

But even with all that, I’m overall happy with this first edition.  I took my time, and enhanced some concepts with extra explanation — knowing that viewers can take their time, watch it at their leisure during several sessions rather than one long lecture.

Future editions will benefit from your feedback.  However, before I re-record it, I’m going to next record all lessons in Complexity 101 and upload them to the course site so that enrollees can begin on the course immediately!

{Edited to add: At least one very stunningly-positive endorsement for this online course has been posted to an important blog site hosted by a Eugene OR architect.  Please click here to read it!}

Ok, one last point.  We’ve priced the course at introductory rates, about 1/3 the price of our asking price (on a sliding scale) for a live class.  But we’re probably going to modify the price over time, allowing the market to tell us how to set it.  Will it be higher or lower?  We don’t know yet.  We want to price it low enough so that as many as possible can benefit from these life-changing ideas while earning a modest living — because this is my day job!  {I’ll send Ermah Ge share holders a coupon code so you pay nothing; class fees will be deducted from your share account.]

Further, we’re offering two options for enrollment: video only (without substantive questions and discussion) or video plus unlimited questions and discussion of material on our online forum (link provided to enrollees).

Oh, and one final point.  There are at least two ways to engage the lecture (in three parts).  You can pursue it linearly, parts 1, 2 and 3 in order.  However, for bold viewers, especially those who are familiar with my program, I recommend starting with part 3.  In that segment, I introduce self-organization and emergence, which are the crux of the entire course, yielding the most profound changes in our understanding of nature, Earth, life, human culture and … everything in the universe.

Ok, with that said, please go here, and “enroll” (meaning register; the intro lecture is free).  After that, you’ll find two “courses” posted: the one on the left is labelled “Complexity 101 Introductory Overview”.  That’s the one you want.   (The other is just a place holder for the course itself.)

I sincerely hope you enjoy it.  I look forward to your feedback.  Please contact me with any questions or comments.

Thanks!  Alder

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