Sunday, September 30, 2012

Coursera Weekly Reflection 30.09.2012

Coursera I am posting weekly reflections here on my current Coursera MOOCs as they progress.

It's been a busy week for me, away for three days. At the same time, two more Coursera MOOCs started. Initially, I panicked slightly and planned to drop the Social Network Analysis course, but after an hour watching the video lectures, I have decided to keep going passively, just watching the lectures and maybe not doing the assessments, or at least, certainly not the programming assignments which I never planned to do. First thoughts about this course are that the video quality is poor (sound, rough edges). Conclusion from the first week? The title of this course is really "Gephi, the Missing Manual". The most serious defect from my point of view is that it doesn't cover data collection (or ethics?), which is the real problem with network analysis - noodling around with Gephi is something anyone can try once they've got the data.

Writing in the Sciences also started this week.  To maintain momentum in MOOCs I have found it necessary to set personal learning objectives for a course, and for me on this course these are:
  • To improve my writing (let go of academic writing habits).
  • Explore practical strategies of how to teach and assess writing of large groups of students online.
So how are we doing with these? I was a bit disappointed by some of the advice given in the first lectures - it's over the top and woo-woo. Many of the edited sentences presented had clearly changed the meaning of the original, in some cases radically. Oversimplification to fit in with the limits of the massive online format? Automated grading does not work well, so Coursera has given up recording marks (although the clunky platform still gives spurious marks in order to display "correct" answers). Assessment will be done via peer grading later in the module. Reading the quality of the discussion boards, I'm not looking forward to this...

Statistics One continues, with much social sciences babble this week (mediation and moderation) - completely out of place on this course - evidence of badly adapted source material. "Statistics One was developed from materials used at Princeton University by putting it on a piece of wood and banging a few nails through it" (to quote Monty Python). Hopefully it should get back on course with t tests and ANOVA next week. This is the week of the midterm exam, but with Usherday tomorrow, I'll have to see how busy I am. Since the assessment aspect plays no part of my learning objectives for this course, I may submit some derisory answers for the sake of continuation.

Busy busy busy.

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