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

Competition: Family Game Night

•March 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Uno draw four

What activity, task, or game most brings out your competitive streak?

Family Game Night. It’s a time that might be a quiet, calm evening of quality time with your loved ones where all is in harmony in your home and sharing snacks, laughs and picture perfect moments are what come to mind. Scratch that, when my family gets together for game night…it’s on!  Even the quietest ones begin to chant their own name upon winning a game.  Like one of my brothers-in-law, he not only dubbed himself SkipBo King, he posted a picture of himself with the winning card on my Facebook wall. Hehe. To be fair, let me give you a little background, up until that point, nobody in my family had been able to beat me at that game so he was everyone’s hero when he finally beat me. Haha! It’s actually pretty entertaining.

skipbo cards on the table

Well, you might call it bringing out a competitive streak but in my family…people dub themselves kings and queens when they beat everyone else out!  They do their own dance!  They’ve even been known to take a victory lap around the living room.

I remember about a year ago, we all went to my brother-in-law’s parent’s house for the holidays.  On one particular night, we began by playing Dance Central on the XBox Kinect.  I didn’t particularly want to play but they insisted so I jumped in to play. Now I’m not trying to brag or anything but I got skills when it comes to dancing so I kept beating everyone and so did my daughter so they wouldn’t let us play anymore. I was dubbed the Dancing Queen by one of my sisters.

uno game

We then moved on and decided to play something more mellow so we all sat down to play Uno. It was late so the baby and the parents(ours and theirs) went to bed.  The rest of us stayed awake talking, joking, and playing Uno.  Anyhow, there were about 8-10 of us playing a grueling game where Draw Two and Draw Four cards were flying right and left. The Reverse card was sweet to have as well since you could dish out to your neighbor exactly what they’d been dishing out to you.  My then 15-year-old daughter was getting a first hand lesson in cards with the family when her uncle gave her her first Draw Four. She said, “Hey! I thought you were my friend!” We all laughed and help her understand that she would need to put her feelings aside and have a strategy.  She then started to like this game again as she didn’t feel so bad about using her Reverse card and repeatedly throwing down Skip (turn) cards on my brother.  One of my brothers won the first round and made himself the self-appointed King of Uno.  Well, that brought out a string of competitiveness in everyone else.  Three hours later, yes, three…uno, dos, tres hours later we’re STILL playing Uno and by this time my oldest brother has beat us all twice and we’re all trying to keep him from winning a third time.  Nobody wanted to be dubbed a quitter so instead we all silently suffered as it was like 2am and everyone wanted to go to sleep so we would encourage…even implore the ones who seemed the most tired to quit…but no one would.

After all, everyone was literally falling asleep at the table.  When my sister’s turn came, she didn’t have the right color and she kept drawing cards from the Draw pile. We all watched as she drew four, then five, then six and the more cards she drew, the more giggling and noise there was at the table til she had like 15 and finally yelled, “I  CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE, I QUIT! I’M TIRED!”  As soon as she quit so did the rest of us and my brother then called himself, “The Triple Crown Uno King.” That was the longest I’ve ever played Uno in my life but it was probably the most fun and memorable as well.

Uno is not the only game that brings out a competitive streak in me and my family…I’ll tell you my Word Trick stories another day.

Strategizing away,

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

Daily Prompt: Call Me, Maybe

•February 5, 2013 • 11 Comments

Describe your relationship with your phone. Is it your lifeline, a buzzing nuisance, or something in between?

Stories are fun and today I’m gonna tell mine like a first grade picture book.

Once upon a time, my phone and I had a love/hate relationship.


You see to answer the question at hand, I’ll have to say that my phone IS NOT my life line. I was once a textaholic.  Yes, I openly admit it. Let’s use our imaginations for a bit, instead of it saying ‘Bob’, it would say ‘Mel’ :)



My friends and I would be talking and we began to notice that our attention span was being affected by these little devices we carry around. We were having half of a conversation with the person in front of us and a full conversation with the person we were texting. Needless to say, attention spans were becoming a thing of the past.



It was beginning to feel like a burden instead of a tool for communication.  I stepped away from the phone for a few months and made people call me at home or not reach me at all.  It was very freeing.  I’m now reconnected but I am really asking myself why I did that since I always leave my cell phone at home now.  It’s just very freeing not to carry it on me anymore. :)  My cell phone and I have become strangers and now he’s just somebody that I used to know. The End.


somebody that i used to know








Disconnecting now,

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


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