Editor’s note: Pamela Fox is a newly hired Frontend Engineer. Before joining us, she went to USC for her Computer Science degree and spent 5 years in Google Developer Relations. To help you get to know her, we asked a few questions…
What was the weirdest, most fun, or most inspiring course you ever took?
When I was in high school, I spent many of my summers at CTY, a summer camp for teens like me that liked learning so much that we wanted to continue learning during the summer – plus doing other ridiculous activities like “Face scotch-taping” and “Funny walks”.
My favorite summer was when I took the “Ethics” class. We learned a lot by reading, but I loved that we also learned by engaging in heated debates, watching Monty Python skits (“Argument vs. Contradiction”), and by putting on a mini-musical (“Utilitarrrrrrianism, it beats barbariannnnism, when you’re in a moral schism, you can use utilitarianismmmmmm!”).
I never had an excuse to take an ethics class after that summer, but hopefully I’ll be able to take one through Coursera, like the Neuroethics course.
Share a secret study tip that helped you in college.
I would love to say that I would start studying for every test a week before and that I’d get a full night of sleep the night before every test… but, like perhaps many of you, I’m a bit of a procrastinator. So, I used to do all my studying in our dorm hallway. That accomplished 2 things: 1) I could pressure people passing by into studying with me, and 2) I could stick post-it notes on myself that said “wake me up!” so if anyone passed by me and I wasn’t studying, they would hopefully give me a good kick.
What are the top two Coursera courses you want to take?
Stanford’s Human-Computer Interaction with Scott Klemmer: I actually started taking this class, and got through the first two lessons (paper prototyping and mock-up techniques), but then life got in the way (a camping trip, a conference in Texas, a trip to Mexico, a birthday party, and of course, getting this job at Coursera!). I want to take it again next time we offer it, and hopefully by then, I’ll also have implemented a few features that will help me stick with it more.
UPenn’s Gamification with Kevin Werbach: I’m very intrigued by the mechanisms of motivation and reward, and I’ve come to realize that they are more complex than most people think. For example – according to many studies, rewarding someone with money for doing something can actually make that activity less pleasurable, and mean that more money would be required the next time – but *not* if the reward is unexpected. I would love to learn more about the current theories and see how I can apply them to my life and to Coursera itself.
Why did you join Coursera?
I’ve always been plagued by the fact that I’m interested in too many things – language, travel, science, evolution, play, food – because my multitude of interests makes it hard for me to pin down what I want to focus the majority of my time on. But I finally figured out the common thread across everything I like working on: education. I love learning and teaching, across every topic and in every form.
Once I figured that out, I started learning about everything happening today in the education space – non-profits like Khan Academy that are trying to improve K-12 education, startups like Codecademy that are trying to teach coding, and of course, efforts like Coursera that want to disrupt the world of university education by bringing it online and making it free.
I joined Coursera because I love their mission, and also because I think there is so much more experimentation to be done in the world of online education, and I’d like to be on the frontlines when that happens.
(For a bit more background, you can read this post on my blog)