- 6 reviews
- 5 completed
The team of instructors shared their individual styles, perspectives, and areas of expertise each week as they made MANY resources available to us for learning the material, and applying it to the weekly assignments. They offered NUMEROUS videos, meet-ups, and online texts to meet our personal learning styles and levels of expertise. They lead us to use visual media with our writing as we learned more about writing rhetorically. Ohio State University created a website to supplement coursera. It was marvelous for encouraging better peer reviews. I had dropped a half dozen coursera courses previously, because the peer reviews were so disappointing. I put hours of work into giving my classmates respectful, constructive feedback, and received short, cheap, sniping comments. This was still an issue with this course, but much less so. The instructors also offered "Level Up" challenges for people who wanted to approach the week's topic from different angles. They put us in the discussion forums during the first two weeks with assignments that were like "getting to know you" exercises. The discussion forums provided the feedback that I needed. I didn't realize that I longed for and really needed it. I discovered that this feedback made my writing grow like it was on hormones. The assignments turned into online publishing opportunities, and lead to the connections that many of us continue today, several months later. The discussion forums continued to be active for some time after the course ended. They didn't close them until 8 months after the course ended, and students had reliably replaced them on other platforms like email, google+, wordpress and facebook. I have enjoyed writing as long as I can remember. Now, with more confidence than ever, I enjoy sharing my writing.
The best thing about Passion Driven Statistics was the free access to SAS software. The other best thing about this course was Professor Dierker's way of holding our hands as we walked through learning how to use the software to apply what she taught to us about statistics. She gave us access to databases that were the resources we needed to answer questions that we chose with passion. She even got access to databases as a result of special requests from passionate students! I had taken statistics in college, and am familiar with reading professional journals, so this material was familiar to me. However, statistics software and using such databases was brand new to me. Professor Dierker made learning SAS quite easy as she guided us through it, giving us the option of just copying and modifying the code, or really understanding what she was saying about how it worked. We had a great, collaborative community in the few short weeks of the course. We shared links to our tumblr.com blogs where we showed our progress during every week of the course. We used the discussion forums to ask for help by giving our blog links. Speaking of the discussion forums, Professor Dierker was on them daily. She took a sabbatical to teach this course, so she seemed to live in the discussion forums. This added a LOT to the value of the course. I wonder if we depended too heavily on her availability. She was passionately driven toward our success. I wish wish wish I could continue to use SAS. I found some projects that would be great to work on with such software. I found that it costs thousands of dollars per year for a single non-business user! The alternative is a free program called R. I have tried several coursera courses to learn the language, and have not yet found one that works for me. Professor Dierker, please come back and teach a similar course using R :)
All of this for free? And whenever/wherever I want? Tim began the course by holding our hands through learning how to use the language/program named Processing. We used it to create simple geometric shapes at first, and then, a few weeks later, we were writing programs that someone else could use for drawing. Amazing! Tim passed us on to Catherine who likewise took us by the hand and gently walked us through using Photoshop and GIMP. She gave the same instruction using both platforms. We began by learning digital concepts, and touching up old, damaged photographs, and in a few weeks, we learned many techniques for using photographs to create composite images that supported profound statements. Next, our professor took us by the hand and led us step- by-step through using Audacity, Logic, and Soundation. Again, she showed us how to get great results from using free resources, and pointed out reasons why some of us might want to pay for the proprietary software. We began by creating simple mono sound recordings, like what I used to do with a tape recorder, and in a few weeks, moved us to composing music using numerous sound tracks, combining digital and audio sources, and making visual representations of our work. Finally, Tim returned and answered the question that had been burning in me: how would we combine these three skills into one final project? Throughout the course, we received clear instruction for how to upload our work to public websites. The discussion forums were full of people who had expertise in one area, and who relied on their classmates as they struggled through other topics. The sharing was wonderful, when it occurred. Unfortunately, near the end of the first section, plagiarism became a highly- publicized issue, so collaboration was squelched. After 16 weeks of learning something so fascinating to me, and working amongst such talented artists, I thought I would have made acquaintances whom I wanted to keep in touch with.The fear of plagiarism seemed to interfere with such connections. Peer reviews were as rocky as in any other coursera course. Even after a dozen weeks of peer reviews, and peer reviewing peer reviews, I still read many peer reviews with just a few short statements like, "you should have tried harder", "make it better", and other comments that didn't give any constructive guidance. This course was so intense and dense, I downloaded the subtitles, and edited them to make step-by-step directions to support the videos. The subtitle files were often previously edited for typos and clarity, which was a blessing. Technology presented its usual challenges, as coursera gets up and running: confusing quizzes, due dates that had to be corrected, assignments that required us to do things we couldn't technically do through the coursera platform... Our instructors directed us to use any website we chose for uploading some of our assignments. I felt really ill at ease following links provided by my classmates, to who-knows-where, and ignoring security risks to fulfill course requirements. My enthusiasm and trust in humanity carried me through it, but you might want to think this through before you do so. I saw in the discussion forums that I was not alone burning the midnight oil, learning the material. It was fascinating, and the assignments challenged us to develop a high level of expertise. I was inspired to do a great deal for each assignment, as I learned about worlds I had not known existed, and appreciate the deadlines that restricted me to more reasonable compositions.
I did really well in my logic course in high school, and looked forward to taking it a step further. I have a lot of fun with logic puzzles, and wanted to advance to more complicated ones. I enjoyed the first week or so of the course. I enjoyed learning formal language and techniques for solving logic puzzles, but I found that the puzzles in the assignments either required skills beyond those taught, or tedious work without the formulas that were taught. I wanted to practice what was taught. My classmates in the discussion forums were wonderful about sharing their knowledge and discoveries, but then plagiarism was considered an issue, so that squelched free sharing. I prefer courses in which collaborative learning is encouraged, not peer competition for grades.
I hated taking history classes, especially because nearly all of my instructors did not do as good a job at teaching it as Professor Adelman. He used images that caught my attention and helped me retain understanding of basic historical events. But still, I continued to find history dry and boring. I had difficulty connecting with it and finding it relevant to my life. I dropped it when I found another coursera history course that explained slightly more recent history in today's context, and that used interesting stories to help me understand the 'big picture'. I completed most of the lectures, and none of the assignments. I noticed that the peer review system was a bit frustrating for the students who participated in the discussion forums. I expected this to be the case, after attempting other coursera courses that were peer-reviewed.
Some math/science geeks wear suits and bow ties. The first time Professor Segev came on the screen, he had a t-shirt and wild hair. Don't be fooled by his casual appearance. He is involved with the Human Brain Project, and Field Chief Editor for the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. He shares his expertise generously. I understand basic maths, but forgot most of what I learned about algebra. I never learned calculus. When he spent some time writing equations on the board, and expecting us to follow, I reviewed the videos and subtitles repeatedly, trying to make sense of them. I finally realized that I didn't have to understand the mathematics, just the concept that increasing one element of the equation affects another element. I have no degree in science. In fact, I always thought I was lousy at science. I developed an interest in neuroplasticity from a therapeutic perspective a couple decades ago, and thought this course might feed that interest. I came out with nearly a perfect grade, mostly because the final exam mirrored the quizzes. The quizzes were great study guides. They pointed out to me what I really didn't "get" yet and wanted to study more, and what I really did comprehend. No trick questions. Each one was straight forward. He cited research that was news-breaking during the course. That was exciting. He shared intimate knowledge of neuroscience research being currently conducted and anticipated. At the end of the course, he cited research that he said proves that we might not have free will. I disagreed with his interpretations and conclusions, but he certainly got me thinking. I love the way this professor uses the English language. As a non-native speaker, his use of grammar was unusual for me, and delightful! His accent is a bit heavy, so I depended on the subtitles a few times to help me comprehend what he said. Sure there were technical glitches, but how amazing is it that we are at the frontier of getting access to these stellar resources for free, in the comfort of wherever we want to be, whenever we want?