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Susan Kemp

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  • 5 reviews
  • 5 completed
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While I enjoyed the subject matter, this was probably the weakest of the 5 courses I've finished on Coursera. The entire course is video lectures, quizzes and "weekly engagement activities," which were basically a forum post set up by the professor that encouraged the class to discuss a certain topic introduced in that week's lectures. After week 2, the engagement activities mysteriously disappeared. For the final week of class, the last quiz didn't show up and additionally people were left wondering what was going on about the final assignment because no word had been made about it and the front page hadn't been updated recently. I think a lot of people thought the class was just over, until about a week and a half late the last quiz and final assignment were posted. I think the subject matter was fine and interesting, but the lack of communication and the random disappearing acts just made it feel like the staff was not entirely engaged in the class. I'd say if you're interested in learning more about election security, sign up and watch the videos, but if you're looking for any sort of interactivity, don't expect it in this course.
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OK, this is going to sound weird but I didn't have much interest in the subject matter going into the course, but I took it anyway because some people I knew were going to take it. Having said that, I did enjoy the class. As previously mentioned, you don't need much of a music background (but if you do have one, don't worry, you will be able to apply it to make your essays even more rich). However, a lot of the class focuses on the cultural aspects surrounding world music. Questions that come up are who should have rights to music (i.e. the native cultures that created the music, or the Westerners who shop up and appropriate it)? So there's issues of law, ethics, society, etc. While the issues themselves are interesting, the delivery of the course could be better. I found the lectures fine, but less engaging than other courses. Each week ended with a discussion between graduate students about the musical aspects of the course, which I found completely unapproachable. I hate to say it, but a lot of what I enjoyed the most is taking that week's content then watching documentaries about it completely not required by the class so I was getting more about the subject but it was technically not a component of the class. I don't want to discourage you. I'm saying the class is OK, even good, however some courses on Coursera use the technology so well that this course can pale in comparison. If the subject matter interests you, though, don't be discouraged. You will enjoy it and there are no super egregious flaws.
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This was one of my first courses on Coursera and it kind of spoiled me. The forums were constantly updated with new discussions. People were incredibly active on both G+ and Facebook study groups. It was great. I mention this course in other courses a lot because I think it did a lot of things right. There were weekly live seminars where the professor gathered 8 students from around the world and a couple of his student from Princeton and they discussed that week's coursework. I WISH other classes would do this. It makes it feel like it's a real class to have people interacting with it in real time. There were usually threads responding to the Google Hangout (which they used for the live seminar) in real time. I also liked that this course had reading that was substantial and felt representative of a real college course. Some courses on here just do the video lectures and I feel like they lack some depth. I honestly felt very intellectually challenged by this class. I think I'm going to take it again in February.
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I took the apprentice/amateur track in the first offering of the course, so my review can only be based as someone who did lectures/quizzes only. I enjoyed the course and found the lectures informative, without seeming incredibly bogged down with too much to remember. I usually watched the lecture without pausing to take notes and did well on the quizzes (and this was new material). I think for some people that's desirable. Some people just may want to learn something new without all the extra effort of disciplined studying we had back in college. My one downside to this track is there felt like there was 0 interactivity with the rest of the class. The forums were largely dedicated to the project others were doing. I think being able to interact and discuss the concepts is one of the biggest strengths of Coursera because for once you have people almost universally excited about the subject matter... and a lot of them. I hope that got addressed in the current rendition of the class.
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This has been my favorite class on Coursera so far (I've taken 5), and what's weird is I wasn't even going to take it at first. It was offered before Coursera had millions of classes, and to me it just sounded like it "meh. might be interesting." If that's you, I think it really well go far beyond expectations. The one-on-one interviews with industry professionals that Dr. Chuck has access to really give an added layer to the history. I think one of the biggest strengths though, really, is that he's just a good lecturer. A lot of professors, maybe not even any fault of their own, just aren't that interesting to listen to. Dr. Chuck makes things very understandable without it seeming dumbed down, and has a sense of humor to boot. I mean before this course I knew a router had something to do with the Internet, but now I really get how routing works. Not just that, but I have completely rekindled a childhood passion for technology. I think it's just contagious. One of the biggest points I want to make is this course does not take a lot of weekly time (as in hours to commit). I think it takes about 3 hours a week to watch all the videos. I think this is great because as awesome of an initiative as Coursera is, some of us just lead really busy lives. The time commitment to this course is as much or as little as you want it to be. Some weeks, I would watch/read the "supplementary material" just because I was so into it, but other weeks where I didn't have time, I just rushed through the videos and finished the quiz. Totally doable for anyone. Tip: If you ever want to contact Dr. Chuck about a bug or anything else about the class, tweet him @drchuck!