I am posting weekly reflections here on the Coursera Statistics One MOOC as it progresses.
It's been a bumpy week on the course with lots of turbulence. The GoDoddy DNS hacking which disrupted Coursera last weekend notwithstanding, this week the course has come across as badly planned, with assignments posted late, and (rather good) R how to videos added as an afterthought rather than as part of the course structure.
In terms of R, it is clear that although this was advertised as a feature of this course, many people only saw "statistics" and did not take the R element on board, hence are getting some surprises. Personally, I think R is the best statistics tool there is at present, but it clearly needs to be made more prominent in the course description, and needs more support in the course - for example, screen capture videos of how to carry out required procedures in R.
As far as the discussion boards are concerned, on this and other Coursera courses, there is a lot of highly negative sentiment. This is rarely if ever responded to by the teaching staff, and is usually from anonymous posters. I believe anonymous posting is a highly negative feature of the Coursera discussion boards and should be removed. real names would not necessarily be need to post comments, but by removing the anonymous option, the tone of the discussions might easily be improved.
Rambling asides on baseball that might work well in an American classroom to establish the lecturer's humanity (which is important) don't work well with an international audience online. A good example of Coursera's lack of forethought in simply taking existing materials and chucking it online (and not something that Udacity could be accused of).
Statistical concepts and practical knowledge of how to operate R shoot by far too quickly for a true introductory course - OK as revision/extension for those who already have some knowledge, but again, a mis-badging of this course as introductory by Coursera with insufficient support being available. Potential harm - this is going to screw some people up "I can't do statistics".
A bad week for Coursera. If I was Princeton, I wouldn't want my brand associated with this.