Sunday, September 09, 2012

Coursera Statistics One - Week One Reflection #stats1

Coursera Statistics One I am posting weekly reflections here on the Coursera Statistics One MOOC as it progresses.

I was eagerly looking forward to the start of my first Coursera MOOC, mostly because I wanted to experienced the much discussed peer assessment process. Five minutes after the release of the week one material, it was apparent that this wouldn't happen - the assessment on this course is all MCQs. MCQs and videos, eight videos in all, 15-39 minutes long, 144 minutes in total. Nevertheless, I like the presentation style. Unimaginative as it is, it suits me. The ability to speed up or slow down the videos is also an important control. In the first week, I found that 1.75x suited me. There are short formative MCQs at end of each video, plus a weekly MCQ assessment.

The discussion boards have also been interesting. I certainly found them helpful in getting around the technical problems of the assessment (not obvious where to download data files, etc). As reported from other Coursera modules, the tone is often hostile. The steep learning curve of R is causing problems - no surprise there - and a few people have been vocal about that. A more serious problem is that there is no form of accreditation for completing this course:

"No certificates, statements of accomplishment, or other credentials will be awarded in connection with this course."

Apparently this is Princeton policy - they don't want their brand so closely associated with Coursera offerings, at least, not at this stage. This has caused some upset on the forums, and I wonder how it will affect completion rate. The suggestion that Coursera should use Mozilla badges (not by me) was pretty unpopular. Negativity is starting to build up in some of the forum posts. I'm staying out of it, floating above it. Shame though, it's a free course, no credit, yet Coursera seems to attract this sort of thing. Anonymous posting on the forums certainly doesn't help.

All in all, I've learned quite a bit about using R in the first week, which was the second reason for taking this course. So far I'm satisfied. I certainly won't be asking for my money back.


  1. completely agree with you. I think a lot of the complaints are often around the fact that you have to think and perhaps do a bit of extra reading up on R etc to be able to tackle the assignment properly and some folk just don't like that - a similarity with students in f2f courses as well probably! But the accreditation thing is a clear flaw in all these. Fine if like us , you're trying to understand the content, brush up your skills, etc, but plenty using the discussion areas to essentially ask for the answers..not sure how you'd get around that other than by formal separate examination as is usually required for other forms of RPL anyway.

  2. I'm with you Iain. This course is free. you have to do the extra reading and put in a little effort. After a couple of google searches and reading some posts on the discussion it was pretty clear how to complete the assignments. What I do think is funny is how the professor laughs at his own jokes. I like to think of him being in a classroom with the students laughing along with him but he seems to be cracking himself up ina n empty room