I've taken online courses in the past at Coursera and the Saylor Foundation and had a mostly good experience with them. I've taken them firstly to learn and secondly on the off-chance that they may provide some (albeit tenuous) evidence of achievement, or at least of intent. They also provide direction and focus to my studies, and serve as satisfying milestones. I'm realistic about the current limits of rigor in testing and validation. I've completed three, but have sometimes (sadly) had to drop Coursera courses due to other demands on my time. Now Coursera have introduced something they call "signature track" for some courses: http://blog.coursera.org/post/40080531667/signaturetrack For a fee, you can opt into this scheme which allows you to earn a "verified electronic certificate." For the first time, I've begun a course that has the signature track option. I'm wondering what people here think about this idea. Do you think it's worth paying for, or will this extra validation not count for much more than a regular Coursera certificate, considering that it's still not possible to police as effectively as a traditional in-person course? My goal, as a non-traditional ("mature", mainly self-taught) student, is to acquire credits and recommendations, along with the knowledge and skills, that will allow me take undergrad and, eventually, graduate-level math courses. For the first time, I'm taking one undergrad-level math course right now at a community college after testing out of more basic courses. The Coursera course I'm taking is "An Introduction to Functional Analysis" by John Cagnol, Anna Rozanova-Pierrat. I found the first week a fairly gentle review of basic topology concepts. I got 100% on the quiz. The course also features peer assessed proof-writing assignments. Peer assessment worked okay on a programming course I took at Coursera, but that was simply a matter of confirming that your fellow student's code performed as required; I've yet to see how peer assessment works at this more sophisticated level of reasoning. I'd be interested to hear what experiences people have had with peer assessment in math courses like this. Unfortunately I'll have to decide whether to opt for the signature track before the first peer assessment is done. So, my question: is the extra validation likely to make much difference, given my goals and the nature of the course?