Freeducate…debt-free education DOES exist!

•July 22, 2013 • 8 Comments

online class

Ever heard of the term freeducate?  Well, you’re not alone because I hadn’t either.  I just made it up to describe free education that is available online(or so I thought) but then as I felt a nudge in my gut to Google it, it’s a term that is actually already out there!

Needless to say, I’m specifically referring to free educational resources.  Now I know there are a lot of free resources in places like YouTube, Vevo and other online channels but that’s not what I mean here. What if you want to learn in a more formal setting? Say, like an online class from a university?  Well, if you didn’t already know,here’s some good news!  There already are several well-known colleges and universities like University of Pennsylvania, Berkley College of Music, Tel Aviv University, and many more offering free online classes on both a domestic and international level in different languages through Coursera at since April 2012.

coursera logo

As Coursera states on their site,

‘Classes offered on Coursera are designed to help you master the material. When you take one of our classes, you will watch lectures taught by world-class professors, learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. When you join one of our classes, you’ll also join a global community of thousands of students learning along side you.’

If you didn’t find a course you were interested in on there, it gets even better!  There are additional freeducate sites out there such as

venture lab Venture Lab –
Who: Stanford University’s Free Online Classes.


Udacity –

Who: Professors from various universities such as University of Virginia, MIT, etc.


edX –

Who: A collaborative effort between MIT, Harvard, Berkley, and The University of  Texas Systems

Mission: EdX is a non-profit created by founding partners Harvard and MIT whose mission is to bring the best of higher education to students of all ages anywhere in the world, wherever there is Internet access. EdX’s free online MOOCs are interactive and subjects include computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence.

Now, I know you might be asking some of the questions I asked, so here goes:

Why would they offer us free classes?

The higher education system was in need of change and this is one of the steps being taken to make that happen. I’m sure there are other reasons both politically and socially but this is the best answer I have at this time. Feel free to comment below if you have additional information.

Are these REAL classes that people would want to take?

Yes, these educational institutions are offering classes such as Introduction to Biology, College Algebra, Physics, World Geography, History, etc.

When are the classes offered?

Year round there are classes available for sign up but you will need to check the course schedule to find out when the class starts.

What if a class has already started that I wanted to take?

Usually, the professors will allow a grace period within the first week for you to sign on if you’re just finding out about the class but if you’ve miss the cutoff, you can add the class to a ‘Watchlist’ to where you’ll be notified by e-mail when the class is being offered again.

Can I get college credits for these classes?

There are some classes in which you can get college credits for however, you may have requirements such as being currently enrolled in that college or university so I would encourage you to read the course info prior to signing up for a class so that you know what to expect and won’t set yourself up for disappointment.

Will I get a certificate of completion when I finish the course?

Most of these classes offer a certificate of completion after you’ve completed the course.

If so, how do you go about getting the college credits?

Please check the course information prior to sign up for the answer to this question because the answer may vary.

How is this even being funded?

If you want to know about Coursera’s funding, this article written by the New York Times can answer that much better than I can.

edX is a non-profit and Udacity is for profit as for Venture Lab, I have not found the answer to which one it is. If you know, feel free to post in the comments section.

sign upWhile I know that college isn’t for everyone, if you just want to take an online class for personal development or haven’t been able to go back to college because of time constraints,  it just wasn’t in your budget, or the class you wanted wasn’t available. Trying freeducate is  a great way to continue your education.  For those that would like to go, there’s a saying that says “where there’s a will, there’s a way!” Cheers to free education!!!

On My Way,

Your Friend Mel :)

Nothing But Praises

•May 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Voice Logo

Yes, that’s right! If you asked me about what I think about the singing competition on NBC called The Voice…I’d have nothing but praises to sing.  I didn’t say they’d be on key, I just said I’d sing them. This show is unlike any other singing competition that is currently airing. How so? It is very inspirational and full of life…from its’ contestants to the coaches to the hosts. This fierce foursome has great wit, comedic personalities and great team chemistry!

Positive Relationships

You can see week after week how the kid inside every coach comes out to play. The hosts are like the parents or schoolteachers that keep the order throughout. Both the coaches and the hosts interact with each other very comfortably in lively banter and playful jest that can only get your heart smiling and the audience up in laughter. You know what they say, laughter is good for the bones.

adam and shakira


This show fosters a charismatic environment and is a great model for what friendly rivalry should look like.  Positive relationships are modeled and encouraged not only by all the coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Shakira and Usher but also among the competitors with each other.  They seem to genuinely try to get to know, understand and support each other in their artistry. Most of the other competition shows these days like to highlight and thrive off of having negative relationships and drama where  you see the contestants treating each other like crabs in a bucket.  For example,  shows having their judges headline the news for consistently contending with each other. What a turn off!  There are others but that’s at the top of my list.

Investing in People

The Voice has also set itself apart in many ways as a great model that I can only hope other competition shows can learn from.

the voice judges2

You see, it is easy to sit in a chair and get paid for saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to someone as they stand there vulnerable and waiting for their dreams to either be affirmed or crushed all the while you get paid millions of dollars but to actually sit there and invest time, effort, energy, talent, and emotions into someone  in a positive manner yet be able to be truthful about what it is that needs improvement in the voice without being blunt or condescending is a true gift to BOTH the givers(mentors) and the receivers(mentees).   This is among the top things that has separated NBC’s The Voice from other singing competitions.  It is also currently the most viewed show on NBC but then again if you watched it then you’d know why.

Not only are they investing in people on the show, their competitors also take time to make a difference by volunteering in a partnership with Starbuck’s Coffee Community Service Program. They’re making an investment that will go a long way!

Social Media Interactivity

Everyone that is on social media is looking to connect for some reason or another. What greater way to make watching a competition interactive than to allow your audience to vote along with the judges.  That’s what you do in The Voice Play Along App on Facebook or at least that’s what I do with it.

Although your vote doesn’t count in the beginning phases like the Knockout Rounds, perhaps the LIVE shows will be different.

There I am watching The Voice( by the way, it starts at 8pm EST) with my laptop in front of me and this app open as well as my Twitter open and actively ready for tweeting.  It’s great to talk with other people and get feedback on what we thought of different performances. You can also send the contestants some sort of virtual high-five  in the form of words for a job well done.

The key factor in this show is positive relationships that bring growth and development!  This is the Golden Child of all singing competition shows.  I love The Voice!!!  Tonight and tomorrow, they’ll be having the LIVE Playoffs so if you get a chance, check it out!  You can find me on Twitter @yourfriendmel_  around show time and you can find all The Voice tweets @NBCTheVoice.

Ciao for now,

Your Friend Mel

Karma Chameleon:Kabash

•February 8, 2013 • 7 Comments

Reincarnation: do you believe in it?

Before I even answered this question(scratching my head), I had to think about the definition of reincarnation.  It’s been a while since I’ve even heard people talk about reincarnation. I know that it comes from eastern religions but I wasn’t so sure which ones so I Googled it.

Wikipedia describes it as Reincarnation is the religious or philosophical concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins a new life in a new body that may be human, animal or spiritual depending on the moral quality of the previous life’s actions.

I have for the most part had Judeo-Christian values in my life since I was a child in some way, shape or form which holds the belief that there is only one God. These values also point out that I’m not so perfect(which I agree) thus the need for a savior aka Jesus. Yes, I need and have a savior(call me co-dependent or whatever…I’m okay with that :))The belief that when I die, I would come back as someone or something else(um, do you get to pick?) is in direct opposition to what I hold as a biblical truth. See, in my Bible it says’ that a man is appointed to die once and then there’s judgment’ and reincarnation would put the kabash on the need for a savior. I like the idea that if I’m caught up in a moment of just wanting to slap someone, I can stop and think…WWJD? Okay but really I do love Jesus. Plus, I’m thinking…do I really wanna come back at all? Just sayin’…I’m good with the idea of moving on. I’m gonna have to pass this cup.  I like needing a savior and knowing I can’t do it all, plus for me personally, it’s a lot easier to keep track of God if I only believe there’s one and I do. He has not failed me and having Him in my heart and life has only helped make me a better person.  I’m a work in progress and have many good qualities as well as faults.

It’s for someone…but I’m not that someone.



Your Friend Mel :)

Choose Your Adventure or Will It Choose You?

•February 6, 2013 • 9 Comments

Write a story or post with an open ending, and let your readers invent the conclusion.

“Oh! What an amazing day!” I say to you as we watch a group of parakeets in the banana trees in front of us eat and chirp at eat other.  parakeets eating bananas

Also a sloth with her young hanging on as she decides to move over to another tree and who could forget seeing the bright array of colors that flashed before as we saw a group of macaws take off in flight just a few minutes ago.


Macaws in flight

Sloths: Mama and baby

Sloths: Mama and baby

We’re in the jungles of the Amazon and I have to say that I never thought  I’d actually get to come here. Our tour guide has instructed us to stay close, don’t go into the water unless he okays it and be alert especially for snakes since they are abundant in the rainforest but mostly beware of anacondas.

An hour later, our hike took us to a dock where we’ve excitingly jumped on our canoes and waited for instructions. Only five minutes into our canoe excursion, we see a baby goat that looks like its drowning in the water.  The lady in the canoe to our right, whose name we later learned to be Theresa jumped into the river to save this goat.  We all look on with our adrenaline pumping and sheer anxiety waiting to see if this little goat will live. As she approaches the goat, she too starts bobbing up and down in the water and screams, “ANACONDA!”  Our tour guides assistant, Miguel, quickly jumps in the water with his machete and begins cutting away.  A difficult task because this beast of a snake is constricting both of its’ preys as we look on with horror.  Time is not their friend right now.  As Miguel fiercely hatches away at the snake, Theresa is loosened and he’s able to get her back on the canoe.  Unfortunately, it was a little too late for the little goat.

We venture on.  We arrive at another dock and park our canoes.  We no longer have a group of quiet strangers but a bunch of new found comrades as we all chat about just experiencing an almost tragic event together.  We hike for a good 15 minutes as we hear the sounds of rushing water.  As we get closer, we see a beautiful clear river with a waterfall that just screaming ‘Cliff dive.’

Waterfall awaiting

Waterfall awaiting

We look at our guide who has given us the green light but throws out a disclaimer that you will swim at your own risk.  After the experience we just had, I look to you so we can decide together. What happens next?

Hanging on,

Your Friend Mel

Burnt: C’est La Vie

•January 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Remember yesterday, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

Whew! I made it out. Oh my gosh! I still can’t believe my house burnt down. Hmm..I’ll miss the paintings and different souvenirs that I got from the different places around the country and world. Most were unique and I don’t know that I’ll be able to get the same ones but God willing I’ll get to visit these places again. If nothing else, I can get something better this time! Oh well, I enjoyed it while I had it.  C’est La Vie! It’s just stuff.

Reminiscing Away,

Your Friend Mel

Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House

•January 30, 2013 • 7 Comments

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

It’s another hot day in Florida. I don’t mind it though, I have always prefer the heat over cold. Although it’s unusually warm in the house, I guess I should open up a window or two.  Bang! Bang! Bang! Who in the hell is knocking on my door like they’re the police?  Apparently, IT IS the police. Lol.  I guess I shouldn’t laugh.  Why are they here? Oh, what’s that? My garage is on fire and I need to get out immediately!? That would explain the extra heat in the house. I’m jolted from my relaxed mode and suddenly jump into a frenzy. My mind is racing.  What should I grab? What do I need the most?  Ok, stop! Think!  I need my work so I would grab my laptop, my journals have so many memories, as well as my photo albums. I definitely need the file with all my personal/identification documents and my purse. In my personal opinion, everything else is replaceable. :)

Firing Off,

Your Friend Mel

It Takes A Village…

•January 16, 2013 • 14 Comments

There’s an old saying that states “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I agree.  I’m not at all implying that I need to hand over all responsibility, authority and care of my child to the village by no means.  On the contrary, I believe that the community or common unity of the people who are my support system will contribute to the richness and fullness of my daughter’s upbringing. What got me thinking of this was that I read a Daily Prompt last week about naming a teacher who had a real impact on your life, either for better or worse. I was too busy to write that day but I wanted to share. Anyhow, that got me thinking about the different teachers that have impacted my life in a positive manner.

The first one that always comes to mind when I’m asked about teachers in my life is Coach Felix.  He was my physical education coach in fourth grade.  I don’t know that he will ever know the impact he had on me.  He took the time to coach me but more than that he taught me something that I have used in my life since then.  He taught me that I could overcome much if I just put my mind to it, in spite of the odds that may come against me.  How so?  You see as a kid, I had childhood asthma and with asthma comes being physically limited to certain activities because overexertion could trigger an asthma attack.  When I started Coach Felix’s class, I showed up on the first day with a note saying that I couldn’t run.  Coach Felix took that note as a personal challenge.  Instead of accepting what the piece of paper said about my physical condition, he set out to condition my mind and body to build endurance. The first time that I set out to walk the track, halfway through I started having an asthma attack.  Coach Felix told me to stop and rest.  Once I was okay, he told me to walk it off.  I finished out my lap. This continued until I could finish two, then four! Four laps around the track was equal to one mile so I was elated the first time I was able to accomplish this without an asthma attack. Next, he had me run one lap and walk the rest and he continued with patience and many encouraging words to coach me through. Soon enough, I was able to run a full mile without stopping! Then two miles.

One day Coach Felix approached me and asked me if I would be interested in running my first road race.  It would be two miles.  He told me how he knew that I could do it and how he was going to be running this race too. Except, this was my time to run the race on my own.  He would meet me at the finish line. I was so encouraged that he believed in me that I said yes. I remember that on race day, I was enthralled with knowing that it was my first road race.  I was nine years old. We lined up. The announcer said “Runners ready?” Then the gun went off and the race started. My adrenaline was going so fast that I started out the race too fast.  Coach Felix waved me off and told me to slow down before taking off with a pack of men that were in the front.  That was the last time I saw him during the race until the last half mile of the race.  You see, it was at this point that I started having an asthma attack while I was running and everything in me was saying quit.  I couldn’t breathe right. I was tired which was wearing on me mentally and I was running alone. I slowed down to a shuffle that was the slowest pace before a walking pace.  My mind was being bombarded with thoughts like ‘what were you thinking?’ ‘You can’t do this, you can barely breathe’ ‘Why did you let him talk you into running this race?’ I was fighting believing these thoughts.  In my nine year old mind, I was emotionally overwhelmed and I started crying while I was running.  Just then, Coach Felix came up next to me and started running the race with me. He didn’t just run with me, he allowed me to lean on him as I was still having an asthma attack but then he said “I can’t hold you up because you have to cross the finish line by yourself or you’ll be disqualified.” He then pulled away from supporting me physically but still ran alongside of me. All the while, he was speaking words of encouragement, motivation and life into me.  He was saying, “Come on Melissa you can do it!” “You’re almost there!” “Don’t quit now!” and he continued on as we got closer and closer to the finish line.  When I crossed the finish line, I looked at Coach Felix and he had a big smile on his face.  I was so glad he pushed me to keep going.  I was then asked by one of the race officials to come with him.  I didn’t just finish the race. Apparently, I had also won first place in my age division!  My name was in the newspaper and it was one of the most exciting things that had happened to me at that point in my life.  Coach Felix taught me the the power of believing.  He believed in me and I had to believe in myself. That’s a life lesson that I have continued to carry on.

I still run races and each one comes with its’ own mental challenge no matter the distance of the race is. In February 2011, I ran my first half marathon.

I’m halfway there!

It was the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World here in Orlando, Florida. 17,000 runners began the race and 14,000 finished it.  I was one of the finishers. Costumes are encouraged in this race in case you were wondering and you will definitely see many if you ever run or watch this race. During parts of the race, I thought of Coach Felix and the days in which he had me walking the track and remember thinking how far I’ve come.  I was wishing he could see me now. Since those early years, I have encouraged a lot of other people to start running their own race and will continue to do so. Thank you Coach Felix for making a difference in my life and in others you may never meet!

Running off,

Your Friend Mel