Three self-paced online courses that I strongly recommend. They are awesome and free!

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If you are businessmen/women, your schedule sometimes cannot be controlled by yourself.  Meeting with clients may be required by your client with short notice.  The emergency situation may happen and you should cope with it.  That is why it is difficult for business men/women to complete on-line training/courses with limited time.

However, there is no need to worried about that.  As the number of online courses is increasing,  the number of self paced courses is also increasing.  In Coursera, one of the biggest platforms of online courses, has 70 on-demand courses. Unlike session courses, self paced courses have no deadline to complete. It is very good for busy business men/women because schedules can be more flexible to complete.

Now I enroll several self-paced courses that I am interested in but have no concrete schedule to complete them so far. Instead, when I have spare time, such as time to wait my flight in the airport or suddenly cancelled meetings,  I can enjoy these courses any time I want. I think it is good!  Here is the list of self-paced online courses I recommend.

 

1.  Machine Learning

This is the best course for people who want to understand what is going on in the digital economy deeply.  Andrew Ng. Associate Professor, Stanford University; Chief Scientist, Baidu; Chairman and Cofounder, Coursera, provides us the course about Machine learning. It is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.  This state of art technologies is explained in plain English so that people with knowledge of high school math can understand what machine learning is and how it is used in the real world.  I always recommend this course. But the problem was that we had to complete the course within three months.  It is considered too short for most of business men/women.  Now this course is available as self -paced course!  Then we can learn the course at your own pace!

 

2. Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies

This course is about fashion trends and industries.  It says “This module is dedicated to a general introduction to fashion and luxury concepts, what they mean, how they are perceived, how they differ, and other basic information on this peculiar industry.”  This kind of courses are very few in on-line courses so I recommend this course.  I expect we can obtain new insights about fashion industries.

 

3. Chinese for Beginners

One of the candidates of self-paced courses to take is the one about languages because it can be repeated many times by ourselves. I currently choose the course about Chinese.  Xianoyu Liu, Associate Professor School of Chinese as A Second Language, Peking University provides the course for beginners of Chinese.

 

Yes, you can go to a coffee shop from now, where wifi connections are available. Then open your mobile and access to Coursera website and sign up.  You can enjoy the courses you choose anytime you want!

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This course is the best for beginners of data analysis. It is free, too!

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Last week, I started learning on-line course about data analysis. It is “The Analytics Edges” in edx, one of the biggest platforms of MOOCs all over the world (www.edx.org).  This course says “Through inspiring examples and stories, discover the power of data and use analytics to provide an edge to your career and your life.”   Now I completed Unit one and two out of  total nine in the course and found that it is the best course for beginners of data analysis in MOOCs. Let me tell you why it is.

 

1. There are a variety of data sets to analyze

When you start learning data analysis, data is very important to motivate yourself to continue to learn.  When you are sales personnel, sales data is the best to learn data analysis because you are interested in sales as professional.  When you are in financial industries, financial data is the best for you.   This course uses a variety of data from crime rate to automobile sales.  Therefore, you can see the data you are interested in. It is critically important for beginners of data analysis.

 

2. This course focuses on how to use analytics tools, quite than the theory behind the analysis

Many of data analysis courses take a long time to explain the theory behind the analysis.  It is required when you want to be a data scientist because theory is needed to construct an analytic method by yourself. However, most of business managers do not want to be data scientists.  All business managers need is the way to analyze data to make better business decisions. For this purpose, this course is good and well-balanced between theory and practice.  Firstly, a short summary of theory is provided, then move on to practice. Most of  the lectures focus on “how to use R for data analysis”. R is one of the famous programming languages for data analysis, which is free for everyone.  It enables beginners to use R in analyzing data step by step.

 

3. It covers major analytic methods of data analysis.

When you see the schedule of the course,  you find many analytic methods from linear regression to optimizations.  This course covers major methods that beginners must know.  I recommend to focus on linear regression and logistic regression when you do not have enough time to compete all units because both of method is applicable to many cases in the real world.

 

 

I think it is worth seeing only the video in Unit 1 and 2.  Interesting topics are used especially for people who like baseball. If you do not have enough time to learn R programming, it is OK to skip it. The story behind the analysis is very good and informative for beginners. So you may enjoy the videos about the story and skip videos of programming for the first time. If you try to obtain a certificate from edx, you should obtain 55% at least over the homework, competition and final exam.  For beginners, it may be difficult to complete the a whole course within limited time (three-month).  Do not worry.  I think this course can be learned again in time to come.  So first time,  please focus on Unit1 and Unit2, then a second time, try a whole course if  you can. In addition, most of edx courses including this are free for anyone.   You can enjoy anytime, anywhere as long as you have an internet access.  Could you try this course with me (www.toshistats.net) ?

It is awesome if you can create your own news-broadcasting, isn’t it?

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News broadcastings are well-known from everyone. For example, CNN, financial times and Bloomberg, etc.  If you can make your own news broadcasting, it is awesome and amazing. But is it possible?  One of the obstacles is how we can collect articles and information from all over the world in real-time basis.  Of course I do not have my own network of news correspondents all over the globe. Then, what should we do about that?

Last week I found the blog about “GDELT 2.0“. The GDELT Project, which monitors events driving global society, creating a free, open platform for computing in the entire world, was founded and led by Kalev H. Leetaru. The GDELT Project’s full name stands for the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT).  Now this project is going to a new stage of “GDELT 2.0”.  Compare with “GDELT 1.0”,  “GDELT 2.0” has a great deal of progress as follows

 

1.  “GDELT 2.0” can cover documents and information written in 65 languages

There is a lot of linguistic communication to be written and spoken all over the world. If we try to cover all over the Earth, we need to understand languages other than English. For example, an apple is called “Ringo” in Japanese. If computers cannot read what “Ringo”means, it is impossible to collect the information about apple in Japan because few of the articles are translated from Japanese to English. There is no need to worry about them. GDELT 2.0” can do that by using real time machine translation. This function is called “GDELT Translingual“.  It means that global news that GDELT monitors in 65 languages, representing 98.4% of its daily non-English monitoring volume, is transformed in real time into English. It is amazing because the media of the non-Western world can be included in our coverage. There are no language barriers to worry about.

 

2. “GDELT 2.0” can be updated in near-real time basis

A blog of  “GDELT 2.0″ says ” In essence, within 15 minutes of GDELT monitoring a news report breaking anywhere the world, it has translated it, processed it to identify all events, counts, quotes, people, organizations, locations, themes, emotions, relevant imagery, video, and embedded social media posts, placed it into global context, and made all of this available via a live open metadata firehouse enabling open research on the planet itself.”  These data use to be updated once a day. Now it is updated within 15 minutes. I think it is critically important when we try to create our own news-broadcasting.

 

3. “GDELT 2.0” can exercise content analysis for each article in near-real time basis

“GDELT 2.0” can also judge whether the articles are positive or negative. The blog says “GDELT 2.0” can quantify the extraordinary array of latent emotional and thematic signals subconsciously encoded in the world’s media each day. 18 content analysis systems totaling more than 2,230 dimensions are now run on each news article seen by GDELT each day and all of these scores are available. It is called “the Global Content Analysis Measures (GCAM)”.

 

In short,  information all over the world can be updated with real-time machine translation and content analysis.  It is definitely amazing. With this database of “GDELT 2.0”,  we might create our own news broadcasting!  Could you try it now?

If you are interested in “GDELT 2.0”, it is a nice video for an introduction.

Malaysia is the top emerging digital economy in Digital Evolution Index

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Last week I found an interesting report about digital economy.  It is called “Digital Evolution Index” conducted by the Fletcher School at Tufts University in collaboration with MasterCard and DataCash. Malaysia is the top in the category of “Break out” nations. It is ranked at 23 out of 50 nations and one of the fastest moving countries in the index from 2008 to 2013. 

In this report, I found that only 2.9 billion global internet users receive an access to the internet so far. Remaining people cannot use the internet because there is no access to it.  However, progresses of technologies are going along in many emerging countries, such as Malaysia, China and India.  Let us consider these progresses country by country and what will take place in the future.

 

The website states that the index is calculated according to the four pillars.

1. Demand: covers consumer income and demographics as well as internet usage

2. Supply: focuses on technology and infrastructure and whether or not they can support digital commerce and transactions.

3. Institutions: accounts for government policy and access to trade.

4. Innovation: rates the environment for creating startups and the overall competitive landscape.

In short, if there are many customers using the internet,  e-commerce companies,  support from governments and innovations promoted, the index will be higher.

Based on the score above, countries are classified into four categories below

1. Stand Out: These countries historically achieve high levels of digital transactions and continue to maintain that level.

2. Watch Out: The common thread among these countries is that they have both significant opportunities and challenges. Their economies function well in spite of limitations.

3. Break Out: Primarily, these are developing countries that have low but growing scores. While they are attractive to investors because of rapid improvement, they’re also riskier.

4. Stall Out: Typically, this group has a history of strong growth, but it’s no longer being achieved. Because of various factors, these countries are at risk of slipping in their development.

 

It is no surprising that there are lots of developed nations in the category of Stand out. These are US, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and so on.  But it is surprising that there are a lot of Asian nations in the category of Break Out. These are Malaysia, Thailand, China. Although India, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia are in Watch Out, they very close to Break Out. As you know, China and India have populations over a billion people and ASEAN nations have also six hundred million populations there. It means that the digital economy will be spread out with massive scale there in the future. Especially when android phones are getting cheaper and everyone can afford his/her smart phone in order to connect to the internet.

 

I live and work in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I agree with this index as mobile internet is very proficient and the cost is reasonable here.    I pay 30RG (1USD is about 3.6 RG) per month to connect to the internet and voice telephone through my mobile.  The speed of the internet is enough to use e-mails and social network, although it is a little dull to watch the movies.  4G internet service is likewise available if you pay more.

From Malaysia to India, there is vast potential to expand digital economy.  I would like to find out “the next billion users” there.