SINGAPORE - This year alone, Mr Hong Chee Joo has earned certificates from universities such as Harvard and Stanford, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The part-time polytechnic lecturer has completed 42 different massive open online courses (Moocs) on five platforms. The topics range from learning and teaching to entrepreneurship and personal development.
"I know I will probably never have the chance to attend these elite universities around the world, so I wanted the chance to learn from their professors," said Mr Hong, 39.
Since his interest was piqued eight months ago, he has been spending at least eight hours a week completing Moocs, including courses by the British Council.
Three days a week, he also teaches organisational behaviour and macroeconomics at a polytechnic.
In September, he was selected as a teaching assistant (TA) on the Learning How To Learn course conducted by the University of California, San Diego, a four-week programme attended by some 200,000 students. It is not easy keeping track of all the assignments and lectures, said Mr Hong, who sometimes reads six courses concurrently.
"The reason I can devote so much time to this is that I don't really have much of a social life, and I'm not married," he said with a laugh.
Explaining his "obsession" with Moocs, he said he enjoys them and they allow him to discover new interests.
Participants also tend to be more enthusiastic about learning since they select their topics, unlike in school when he sometimes had to work with "loafers."
He said: "There is such a diversity of students and some of the insights are quite brilliant."
This article was first published on November 13, 2014.
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