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Marcello

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  • 3 reviews
  • 3 completed
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I really think that programming courses are where Coursera shines. Both the auto-graded quizzes and the peer-reviewed projects are at their best when the subject being taught is practical and complex. This is a very polished introductory course, all in all enjoyable. The only critics I have are the use of a custom made library and programming environment, which make it harder to take the lessons learned "out into the world". Aside from that, the course is fun and challenging without ever being frustrating. (I also completely ignored the practice exercises and Viz mode, so this review concerns only the 'core' lessons, the quizzes and the mini-projects)
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A good introductory course. I quite enjoyed the videos: Lada has a casual style and is clearly passionate about the course content. Sometimes the quiz answers were unclear, but I think on the whole the test material was good (the quizzes could be repeated, so ambiguous questions would not impact the final grade). I didn't do the peer-reviewed assignments, as they looked far too difficult compared to the content of the lectures. In the end, I think the course was an enjoyable ride, but I feel like I'm missing very important pieces. I would like to know more about collecting data, for example. After the course I bought O'Reilly's excellent "Mining the Social Web", which explains quite a lot about getting data from social networks, blogs and other sites, and complemented well what I learned from this Coursera course. It would also be nice and interesting to have a more in-depths course (either as a separate course or as additional weeks), to continue learning about network analysis in all its forms.
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It's quite hard for me to review this course: on one hand, I really enjoyed it and I learned a lot; on the other hand, I think it has some serious design flaws. First: this is NOT a beginner's course. Although the starting videos are simple enough, difficulty ramps up too quickly. You will find the videos difficult to follow if you have no programming background and/or previous experience with R. The programming assignments (which I reccomend) require a lot of indipendent research on forums and tutorials, and are much more difficult than you would expect. The instructor is clearly very proficient with R, but has difficulties getting into the head of a beginner. He shares quite a lot of tips very useful for an intermediate user, but gets beginners confused. I enjoyed the course because I'm not new to R, but if I were I think I would find it frustrating. Even so, I think the course is not well designed for intermediate users, either: the pacing is inconsistent (the last week is actually easier than week 2) and the course program doesn't seem to follow a clear logic. The istructor actually knows a lot about the topic, so this course has the potential to be great. It would just need a couple more weeks to introduce concepts gradually, more practic exercises with gradual difficulties, and some more tips for beginners. I hope the next sessions will improve the materials. For now, I will use the videos as useful reference material whenever I need to use R.