Learning during a crisis (Data Science 90-day learning challenge)

How can you keep your focus and drive during a global crisis? Take on a 90-day learning challenge for data science and check out this list of books and courses to follow.

By Arnuld on Data, freelance Data Scientist.

Almost every one of us is contained inside our homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We rarely go outside, and I am spending an awful lot of time on the internet, in front of my desktop computer, and I am doing a lot of reading online. With so much reading going on, there were two articles I read recently, and I could not get them off my mind. First, was MOOC’athlon challenge started by Rassul-Ishame Kalfane, and second, was the MIT Challenge by Scott H. Young:

I could not take these off my mind because a thought was constantly hitting me: What if I could accomplish this?

Then, I created my MOOC’athlon list and read an article by Scott H. Young that now is the best time to do what he calls Ultralearning, and I see much of his advice is quite practical. His first point, Learning makes you a more informed citizen, is pretty accurate. There are many times in my life that I have figured out the hoaxes and fake emails, messages or calls because I have come across them while reading. Places where people lost money to fraud, I was saved because I either already knew or I wanted to search it first and read on it before clicking or replying to anything. Scott has mentioned three roads to learning:

  1. The road of excitement
  2. The road of necessity
  3. The road of foundations

For me, the road to learning was always because of necessity, and over time I learned that road of necessity overlaps with the road of foundations, i.e. looking at failures I had in my life, I went on a mission to “master success principles” back in 2012. Reading books and watching videos of successful people across the continent made me realize that there is a pattern to success, and there is a pattern to failure. So, to use the “success patterns” in my life, I had to build foundational ways of thinking that resulted in books/audios/videos from foundations category.

So what do we learn from this? There is one very well known fact in personal development that the quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of questions you ask yourself. In fact, most people never ask any questions to themselves, or they keep on asking the same questions for years. There is even a book on this, and I haven’t read it yet:

Source: https://inquiryinstitute.com/resources/book/#2.

I asked myself this:

  1. Most probably I won’t succeed because I have failed at almost all of the goals of my life so far, but what if I succeed this time?
  2. I have never done anything right, but what I am going to lose by doing this? The next few weeks are going to pass, and then the next few months. I have always lost, if I lose again, it will be nothing new. What if I do get success? Life will be different, a whole new level. I could tap some unknown potential of my mind

So, I started my 90-day learning challenge and here is my MOOC’athlon list, not in any order:

  1. Read and understand Python Language Reference: https://docs.python.org/3/index.html (DONE)
  2. Read Python Library Reference (DONE)
  3. Read and code through the Python tutorial (IN PROGRESS)
  4. Functional Programming Style
  5. SQL Intro and familiarity with basic command at https://sqlbolt.com/ (DONE)
  6. Learn and Work through Python NumPy
  7. The Ultimate beginner’s Guide to NumPy by Anne Bonner
  8. Learn SciPy Ecosystem
  9. Work through Python for Data Analysis by Wes McKinney
  10. Work through Think Stats by Allen Downey
  11. Work through Think Bayes by Allen Downey
  12. Learn Probability (Don’t know yet from where)
  13. Master Machine Learning Theory from An Introduction to Statistical Learning
  14. Scrap data from internet and clean/wrangle it
  15. Find and read books that talk about how to ask better questions in data science
  16. Find and read books that show real-world benefits of data science

I started this a week ago, and I have found some books related to the last points on the list:

Source: JordanFinancial Times and Eric

Not only that I have finished three new MOOCs, in that order:

  1. Mindshift at Coursera
  2. Another 20 Free Hacks at Udemy
  3. 20 Free Hacks at Udemy

And my 2nd week is not over yet. I think this is the power of goals when you decide in your mind and when your why do I want to do this is strong. I am not a fan of pushing yourself motivation because it is based on will power and will power means resistance to who you are, resistance to yourself. Like Tony Robbins said: early in the morning, something should pull you out of bed. So, your why needs to be that strong if you want to accomplish something worthwhile.

With all the negative news going around, how all the world is in a downward spiral with the corona pandemic, with all the conspiracy theories going around of the source of the corona, sometimes you may feel depressed and become downright negative. This is what news does to you. Yes, it happened to me a few times last week. And with the real threat of this pandemic and the countrywide lockdowns across the world, you may absorb some of it, and during those times it may be very difficult for you to find happiness, to focus on your learning challenge. This is when you need to understand that the world has never stopped, no matter how tough the times have been. We had threats way more serious than current pandemic:

  1. Two world wars (so much to learn here)
  2. Black Death some 600 years ago before those two world wars
  3. Antonine Plague in the year around 170

No matter what has happened, humanity always went on, and we are still here, growing and expanding. Look on the positive side of life. Yes, do take all the physical precautions you need because looking at the positive side does not mean being reckless about your life. I said at the beginning of this article: there is a thin line between being positive and kidding yourself. What you need to do is to understand facts, invest more time in learning truths of life and this world and unlearning what I call tainted truths. You need to practice it, and you can put these two on your learning challenge:

Source: John Allen Paulos and Hans Roslings

So, take precautions, practice social distancing and keep your mind focused on the thought that when this pandemic is over, you will come out with one of the greatest learning periods of your life, in such a short time. Do what you have never done before, look inside your heart for guidance. It always guides you.

Original. Reposted with permission.


Bio: Arnuld (@ArnuldOnData) is an industrial software developer with 5 years of experience working in C, C++, Linux, and UNIX. After shifting to Data Science and working as a data science content writer for over a year, Arnuld currently works as a freelance data scientist.