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Opinions of MOOC's Through Coursera?

  1. Dec 19, 2014 #1
    Has anyone had any experience taking a MOOC (massive open online course), particularly through Coursera?

    I'm thinking of enrolling in a computer programming and/or Calculus 1 class there and would love to hear of any feedback that people may have concerning the site. I know it's one of the most reputable around with prestigious institutions (and professors) involved, such as Stanford, Johns Hopkins, University Michigan, etc.

    What are people's opinions of doing a MOOC (again, particularly through Coursera)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2014 #2

    Doug Huffman

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    Gold Member

    Yes. An advanced analysis refresher from Stanford U. It was my second and last assay of a MOOC. IIRC this class had ~70K signed up when the operators admitted that it was their first effort. I formed a study group for "elderly retired American English-speakers" that had a hundred participants and I was overwhelmed.

    I have since found less formal streamed lecture courses from Stanford U., particularly, much more satisfying. Note that I vigorously eschew and oppose credentialism (meaningless advertisement) and authoritarianism.
  4. Dec 22, 2014 #3
    I've taken plenty of MOOCs, and I've had different experiences. Some are really well made, others aren't. Looking at the reviews on Mooctalk.org should help.

    My first MOOC was Programming Fundamentals by the University of Toronto when Coursera.org first started, and even back then, Coursera is a fantastic platform.
    Try it! They are free. Don't pay for Signature Track until the deadline, as you will have a great idea of whether the course is worth taking or not.
  5. Dec 23, 2014 #4
    It really depends on the course: the instructor(s) and how well organized it is, whether they have enough assistance. I've taken some great ones. I've learned a lot. Most have had few issues, but they were still very useful and rewarding. I don't think I ever dropped a Coursera course because of low quality, only because other priorities claimed my time. (That said, I've only taken math or "hard" science subjects; I know people who've been disappointed by humanities courses on Coursera.) If you have time to invest and the subject is important to you, I'd certainly recommend trying it. I never paid for the Signature Track. I thought about it, and even started a thread on the subject, but decided in the end (rightly or wrongly) that it probably wouldn't carry much weight.

    I did an introduction to games programming in Python which was a lot of fun. There were peer-graded assignments and plenty of guidance on how to grade them.

    I did one on functional analysis which had some organizational issues, but was mostly good, with peer-graded proof-writing assignments alongside the regular multiple choice tests. This made it more challenging and interesting than if it had been only multiple choice tests. It mostly worked, although especially towards the end I think there was an issue with some students falling behind with understanding the material but still obliged to grade so as not to lose points themselves.

    The deadlines can be a good motivator, but can tempt one into investing more energy in a course than it's really worth - e.g. if that energy might better be spent learning the material properly in twice the time, if that's what it takes, rather than chasing the points.
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