Wednesday, March 06, 2013

10 Tools Challenge - Coursera

I signed up for a few Coursera classes of interest, two of which started this week:  How Things Work (aka Physics 101) and Know Thyself.  From a course content perspective, it's a good mix of understanding the external world and understanding the self. For the purposes of this blog, I'll focus my observations on the courseware, learner interactions in a MOOC, and my own learning experience.

Week 1 - Initial Explorations
Navigating the course sites is very easy; the professors' guidance/instructions were all clear and available.  There were a couple of small things that slowed me down (finding a usable version of the video transcripts and finding the text of an introductory message that had been sent via email but was also posted on the site). These were really small details and overall, my experience as a student exploring two Coursera courses for the first time was a good one.

The week isn't over yet but I can tell that the main challenge for me will be figuring out a useful way to navigate the discussion forums or decide to completely stay out of them.  There's just too much noise in there. It's just not possible for 70,000 students to have a useful conversation.  An interesting element related to this is that it looks like for many students it's not their first Coursera course and they've already figured out how to set up smaller study groups and how to organize conversations in other forums (twitter, Google+, Facebook, even Meetups).  This is happening within the first two days of the course.

I like the delivery format: short video lectures with suggested readings.

BONUS: Both of my current courses are from UVA and they've been smart about showcasing the campus.  It's a plus for me since I have a daughter who is a student there at the moment.  I can think about her walking the same paths I'm watching on the screen.

As a side note, I took the first science quiz and failed, which means that technically I already failed the course.  The good news is that I'm too old to care about the grade per se but I did want to figure out what I did wrong and I think I've got it now (and I'll be a little more careful with the next quiz).

Question:  How many Coursera students (aka courserians) give up on the course when they fail the first test  when a passing grade means passing each and every one of the quizzes? (passing is 70% or higher)

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