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Damian Grant

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  • 6 reviews
  • 5 completed
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I enjoyed this course - not the best MOOC I've ever done, but a reasonably easy workload one that I felt I could dip in and out of without forgetting where I was. A lot of people on the forums complained that you couldn't progress without looking at other resources (Wikipedia etc); although Wikipedia was good as an additional reference, the lecture material was almost always sufficient to complete the material. It helps to have a reasonably mathematical background to follow this course. The presenters often explain concepts via equations, and sometimes struggle to give a concise, memorable lay definition. I did find the forums useful for this at times - condensing a lecture of maths into one big idea. People talked about the 1 attempt per quiz (and 1 attempt per exam) being a big negative. I liked this. It meant you had to properly read and understand the material before answering, and you couldn't keep going back to tweak things. I've been guilty of this in other courses, just to up the grade, which I don't think is a particularly valuable learning experience. Overall, not a perfect course by any means, but a reasonably engaging trio of lecturers and fascinating source material made me happy I did it!
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I jumped into this course straight after Udacity's CS101 (was a big fan of Dave Evans after that one), and it was quite a jump in difficulty! I also took a few weeks off in the middle, and the lack of continuity for me made it difficult to get back into it. As with all Udacity's courses (that I've done so far) the quality of the lecture material in this course is excellent. The assignments were reasonable, except that each one had a challenge problem for which the answer wasn't provided. I managed to do the first of these, but then couldn't dedicate enough time to them over subsequent weeks to bother. This is obviously a personal choice, and a complete learning experience from this course would definitely involve the challenge questions. Just be prepared for a lot of work (and some fun, I'm sure) in solving them. People on the forums seemed to have spent days on these, but in return I'm sure they had some practical crypto skills at the end of the course, whereas I feel (some months after finishing it) that I only have an ideas of a few of the concepts. In the global Udacity meetup, Dave Evans said that Udacity is planning an intermediate level course to more effectively bridge the large gap between CS101 and this one; until then, you may want to try some of the other intermediate courses on Udacity before leaping into this one!
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This was my favourite Coursera course I've done so far, and one of my favourite MOOCs overall. I'm not a "business school" type, but this course alone made me more enthused about making business fun! Sure, it may be a buzz topic, but Prof Werbach at least acknowledges when there may be some genuine lasting benefit to be had from using some of the concepts. Homeworks: \- typical weekly multi-choice quizzes (actually pretty decent for the genre). Sometimes the answers were a bit subjective, but it did encourage you to go back and look over the notes \- 3 longer written assignments, peer reviewed. These were probably the most valuable part of the course. Some people criticised the quality of peer review, but ultimately they were just trying to make you think about things a bit more. I only spent 0.5-1hr on each, but I was thinking about my answers over the week or 2 we had to do them. I went in skeptical, and came out a convert (at least with some recognition of pluses and minuses). Thoroughly recommended.
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In it's first iteration, this course is definitely a work in progress. Production quality on the videos is quite poor (volume very low), material is late arriving, not much material covered. The assignments have also had problems so far - one peer reviewed assignment that was hard to grade (screenshots of excel spreadsheets are hard to check numbers on!), and one automated one that was quite picky and required forum interaction to work out what subtle line of code was missing. Difficulty is low so far - although you do need to know Python (or spend a bit of time getting to grip with some code). The professor engages a little in the forums, and has (for lack of other material) posted a video of responses to some questions posed in the forums. He's said that he'll take on board criticisms and offer an improved version of this course sometime in early 2013, followed by Part 2 of the course.
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This was the first MOOC I did, and luckily it was good enough to keep me coming back. I've programmed a fair bit before, although never had any classes. This was my first exposure to Python though. I was hoping for a bit more background on memory use etc, but I guess that doesn't fit with an entry level course. The quizzes etc were reasonably easy if you've done some programming before but I imagine they were aimed at a beginner audience. On the other hand, I found if I didn't keep up with the material regularly, I lost track of the various components of the search engine that we were building throughout the course. When it came to the exam I decided to leave out the 1 question relating to the actual search engine (the rest were general programming questions). On the other hand, I do appreciate that the course had a theme (building a search engine) that was gradually developed as the course went on.
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I've completed about 4 MOOCs now, and this has been my favourite so far. I found it to be a solid "intermediate" level - both in terms of workload and difficulty. I found some of the quizzes - particularly the exam - needed multiple submissions to get right. I'm not sure if this suggests I didn't deeply understand the material after all. The problem sets usually included just 1-2 programming exercises, and only a few were really challenging. I thought the instructor was brilliant, and responsive to questions on the forums. In terms of content, obviously everyone will have different interests and background. I was expecting something a little different (more due to my ignorance as to what is "theoretical" and what is "practical" Comp Sci). It's a lot more mathematical than other CS courses. On the other hand, I haven't done any Algorithms courses (which was a recommended pre-req). As I say, it's early days yet for my MOOC education, but I hope there are other courses this good out there for me to discover!