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Greta

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  • 8 reviews
  • 6 completed
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History has always been just a minor interest of mine, probably because my history classes in the past tended to focus on details and local events rather than illuminating the global picture. What I was looking for was some kind of overview over the coherences and some insight why things happened the way they did - and this is exactly what this course provides. Prof Zelikow is not only a versatile scholar, he is also a phenomenal teacher. His lectures are very well structured, fascinating and informative. Among all the coursera courses I have taken so far (~25) this is definitely among the top 3.
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When I first saw the announcement for this course I was puzzled. I've completed several MOOCs before, but can you actually learn playing an instrument in a MOOC? Well, I always wanted to play the guitar so I signed up. For participating in the course you need: • a guitar (electric or acoustic) • means of tuning the instrument (electronic tuner, smartphone app, tuning fork, pitch pipe) • some way of recording (pickup or table microphone, smartphone app) • time to practice (ideally 1-2 hours a day, in the beginning divided into 5-10 minute units to avoid overstraining your fingers and wrists) • patience with yourself and your body ;-) So how does this course work? The instructor provides a few short lecture videos each week containing just a little bit of music theory and a demonstration of what you are supposed to practice during the coming week. There are some short quizzes, that can be repeated as often as necessary and for the peer reviewed assignments you have to record yourself playing the practice exercises on the guitar (e.g. different picking styles, scales, simple melodies, barre chords, powerchords) and upload it to an online platform (soundcloud.com). Your final grade is based on quiz results (50%) and peer reviewed assignments (50%) . The concept of peer grading in MOOCs is often criticized for being unfair and unhelpful - so does it work in this course? Well, yes and no. No because you'll always have some jerks among your peers who mark you down without leaving any hint what they didn't like or what you could do better next time. So the feedback (or the lack thereof) is not always helpful and the grade you get from your peers is not necessarily fair. However, in this course the peer graded assignments are essential because they make you practice. If you are a total beginner (like me) you initially simply can't do the assignment, only after practicing it for a few days you are able to provide a recording that is not (too) embarrassing. So for me the peer assignments provided a remarkable motivation and though the tasks were really challenging (especially the last two weeks) I made noticeable progress. I also found the forums in this course extremely helpful, which is not always the case in MOOCs. My fellow students provided great tips for practicing and links to wonderful apps and tutorials that will keep me busy for a long time. So after the 6 weeks I'd certainly not say that I can really play the guitar, but I do have an idea what to practice, how to practice and I feel confident that I will continue to practice. I have fun with my current skills and will have even greater fun when I get better.
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Yes, the pace of this course is rather slow. Yes, the material is presented in a rather repetitive way. Does that make this course bad? Most certainly not. It is a very thorough course on the theory of reasoning and argumentation. It is also a damn good introduction into logic and probability, so this actually makes the course valuable for pretty much everyone who just starts with coursera. Both Professors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Ram Neta are enthusiastic and quite entertaining. If you do have prior knowledge in logic, probability and a bit of philosophy and you just want a quick overview of Critical Thinking the eponymous and more practically oriented course by the University of Edinburgh might be the better choice for you. But if you require more background information this course is just perfect.
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I've taken both this course and Duke University's "Think Again: How To Reason And Argue" and I'd really love something in between. Where Think Again was quite theoretical and lengthy this course was a bit too brief. However all in all and with some personal background in logic and philosophy I preferred this course because of its more practical approach. Though the background information was rather sparse the practical application provided a better understanding of proper arguments and common fallacies.
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Usually I don't think it's such a good idea to comment on courses that have just started but this one seems to be such a gem - even among the general high quality of coursera courses - that I thought I might make an exception. Prof. Bloomfield teaches the basics of physics with such an enthusiasm, such physical effort and is in the process so incredibly entertaining that I just have to recommend this course to everyone who has even the slightest interest in the topic. There is no prior knowledge required, grades are based on weekly quizzes. Enroll, watch and enjoy :-)
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Watching Prof. Noor teach is just pure joy. He loves his field of expertise and passes his enthusiasm on to his students. The course material is well structured and easy to comprehend, a little prior knowledge in cell biology certainly doesn't hurt but it's not mandatory. The quizzes however have a tendency to mess with your mind, according to the Professor this is the result of the "Noor syndrome, which causes diseased individuals to make overly complicated questions on tests" (this quote was actually part of a quiz question :-))
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Well, if you've attended other online courses - this one is not like them. I wouldn't even call it a course, because there are no lectures at all. There is some material (mostly videos) that you are asked to watch and reflect on and that's about it. Though the provided material is divided into separate weeks nothing hinders you from watching everything at day one. The linked videos were certainly interesting and thought provoking but the whole format of the course was so fuzzy and diffuse that I didn't feel enriched by the experience. The instructors called the format a "student-centered … approach" - I'd call it unguided self-study. Which raised a question in my mind: for such a course - what do I need instructors or an online course platform for? The instructors didn't teach or guide, the platform was just used as a link collection and the discussion took mainly place on various social media platforms. To sum it up I'd like to quote one of the students on the forums: "This course [made] me feel like a lab rat." It obviously was an experiment, frankly for me it didn't work.
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Great course indeed, absolutely enjoyable and very fascinating. Like some of the previous reviewers at some points I would have liked a few more details but on the other hand it was perfect as an introductory course that easily fit even into a full time worker's tight schedule. That said I'd really love to see Prof. Cockell teaching an advanced course, I'd sign up without hesitation.