Sunday, October 07, 2012

Coursera Weekly Reflection 07.10.12

Coursera I am posting weekly reflections here on my current Coursera MOOCs as they progress. This is my last Coursera weekly update for the time (see below):

Statistics One:
The content is still good but it's an organizational shambles - this is really the sort of low level stuff there is no excuse for Coursera screwing up. I have now completely decoupled this module from assessment as we arrive at the last week. That's no problem at all as I feel I have definitely met my personal learning outcomes for this course. Would I be happy for my students to take this course? Yes, but:
  • Not contextualized as biology so it would be problematic for most.
  • Most students would need the f2f handholding and explanation which is absent in a MOOC
More to the point - would I pay money for this course? Certainly not as it stands, but with polishing and much better customer (I use that word deliberately) support from Coursera, possibly, as long as there was a suitable system of micropayments - no way I'm paying close to the costs of a proper residential course.

Scientific Writing:
Same problem as last week, overly dogmatic and virtually every example changes the meaning of the sentence. Unexpectedly, I'm disappointed with the quality of this course, as is much of the traffic on the Coursera discussion boards. I don't think I'm going to get much out of this course in terms of writing, so my personal learning outcome - to experience peer grading on the Coursera platform - is now my main objective here.

Social Network Analysis:
This course is also taking a hit. It's good (although the calculus is challenging) and if I didn't have much else to do I would stick with the non-programming bits, but at the moment I simply don't have time, so I'm skimming the video lectures and random clicking the assignments so I stay apparently "engaged".

The other development this week is that I cracked and signed up for the Current/Future State of Higher Education cMOOC (#cfhe12). I'm not sure if I'll be able to find much time to participate, and the initial experience has been clunky and unwelcoming, so we'll have to see. If I've got anything to say, I'll be blogging here using the #cfhe12 hashtag.

1 comment:

  1. Hi AJC,

    Thanks for these comments on Corsera. I'm also trialing two of these courses, one of which is Writing in the Sciences and was interested by your comments that the lecturer takes excessively dogmatic positions and that every example changes the meaning of a sentence.

    I was also surprised by the dogmatism but, as with most advice, it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. If one of the purposes of "writing well" is to avoid distracting little minds with "errors" then it is useful to know which "errors" are most likely to awaken the hobgoblins. Most of this is directly from Strunk and White, which I could follow if I wanted.

    Your point about the examples also hit home with me, and I noticed the same thing. Having worked examples is very useful for illustrating the basic principles of good composition. The presentation as "editing strategies" is a little misleading. This level of editing would involve a total rewrite of someone else's work and be prohibitively expensive, in terms of time and effort. What I get from this is an awareness of which types of constructions may pose difficulty. Judicious following of some of the advice in this course could improve most people's writing.