Round 2 launch and onward

Launch At that first meeting of Round 2 (after our summer break, and with a lot of new people), we had a great discussion and decided on Mindware. See our review, and from there, you can explore all the other courses we’ve taken and many that are on our list of possibilities. First week Early… Continue reading Round 2 launch and onward

Course interest survey

So at this point we had a shared Google Doc with a bunch of course descriptions and links to each course. I created a poll to gather the group’s interest in each course. I used Survey Monkey, which worked fine, but I had to do some workarounds to keep it free, like breaking my course… Continue reading Course interest survey

Second round: intro

I started a second round of courses in the fall of 2019. This time, because some people already had met in person, I did more of the preparation online, including the following:

A series of emails, one for each step

A shared Google Doc for gathering course ideas

An online survey to gather course interest

That first course

The first meeting was a success! We had chosen our first online course to take together. It turned out to be a heavy-duty, many-weeks-long Machine Learning course. This was an ambitious group! Weeks later, there was gradual attrition and we ended up with just three of us left in the group. The whole experience was… Continue reading That first course

Gathering courses

Gathering courses from Coursera, edX, Kanopy, and other places took some serious thought and time. I’m hoping I can save you some of that work. On this site I’ve collected the list of courses that we’ve taken over the last few years, along with comments and even some extra helpful information and links. For the… Continue reading Gathering courses

Gathering that first group

With twenty interested people responding to that first message, the next step was to reach out to them. I used email again. This time I used the “bcc trick” so that a bunch of potential strangers don’t suddenly see each others’ email addresses: I sent the email to myself, and put all their email addresses… Continue reading Gathering that first group

Here’s the first message I sent to the social group I decided to launch from. Feel free to adapt it for your own use. Short and sweet is better!

Subject: Get together for online course?

You probably know about the great variety of free or inexpensive online courses at Coursera and similar websites. I’ve completed a few, but I miss the exchange of ideas and personal interaction of a live classroom. So, I’d like to organize a group where we take an online course together and gather once a week to compare notes, ask questions, and motivate each other. What do you think?

If you’re interested in picking a course together, please send me an email (, and in a week I’ll take the next steps: set up an email list where we can learn about our interests and look for courses at Coursera, edX, Udemy, or your own favorite, and set up a meeting at the library or Community Center if there’s demand.

Steve Yost
[my street name]

Getting a group together

You’ll want to pull together a diverse and interesting group of people. Here’s how I first gathered a great group that has evolved over the years. My town — Lexington, Massachusetts — has many scientists and engineers, and it already had an active town email list on Google Groups. Your city or town may have… Continue reading Getting a group together