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Lorri Adams profile image
Lorri Adams profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 12 months ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I found it fascinating the amount of photographic manipulation that was done in the past. I learned a lot more of history with this course, having NOT been a fan of that s... I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I found it fascinating the amount of photographic manipulation that was done in the past. I learned a lot more of history with this course, having NOT been a fan of that subject during my school years, and this triggered more research for me into areas I hadn't even thought of .
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2/10 starsDropped
5 years ago
I almost dropped the course after viewing the first week section. Already disappointed and discouraged, I grudgingly proceeded to view some of the other videos. I harbored the hope that at least one original... I almost dropped the course after viewing the first week section. Already disappointed and discouraged, I grudgingly proceeded to view some of the other videos. I harbored the hope that at least one original thought would eventually surface. I eagerly anticipated the section about Soviet propaganda posters, in hope that with such a vivid subject the lecturer could not possibly deliver dull results. I was wrong. That section in particular caused me to lose all will to continue the course and withdraw. Being a Russian national born in the Soviet Union, I'd been excited to get an opportunity of an outside view, a foreign perspective of the posters' art and some reflection of the shiver inducing cold-hearted practice of brushing of the historical Stalin's disagreeables. Sadly, all I got was the habitual lecturer's routine of retelling the book written by the photographer/researcher, who had actually done an excellent job. By the way, the abbreviation “CCCP” reads as “SSSR”, not as “SiSiiPi”. In order to keep my good faith in all rational in this world I can only assume that the lecturer joked about the pronunciation, assuming that MOOC participants, a potentially multi-thousand auditorium, were well aware how the abbreviation of USSR in Cyrillic is pronounced: [SSSR]. There is one good thing about this course – the subjects that it covers. I don't say "themes" because the thought- and discussion-provoking themes as such are absent in the videos, or it could be said that there is only one recurrent theme: "in our days photography plays an important role". It doesn't require much discussion or thought: in the 21t century nobody really needs a university professor to grasp that concept, it's integrated in our lives, almost an instinct. I admit that the list of events and notorious images, put together by Prof. Emmet, is noteworthy and I suggest to download the curriculum and to give it a closer inspection. To my great sorrow, in all other aspects this course is plainly weak: the absence of reflection, the video editing, the ridiculous practice of not showing the photos that are being discussed due to the copyright restrictions, or showing even those that are not copyrighted on an iPad and from an awkward camera angle... With all due respect, professor Emmet an the filming crew, are you kidding me? You recur to this in a digital age, when anybody can whip up a PowerPoint presentation in 5 minutes?.. At one instance the lecturer apologizes that the presented copy of a photo is too dark to really see anything, but if you squint just like that you could probably get the point... I was tempted to call it quits at that, but my curiosity about the section that covers Soviet propaganda posters took over. The focus of the course is supposedly on images in context, and basing on my own uni experience I naively supposed that it would involve a lot of really eye-opening thoughts on analyzing the images from different perspectives, on teaching people to find a deeper meaning in a seemingly innocuous photo. That didn't happen. The typical "lecture" went like this: the presenter shows an image (and sometimes he doesn't), describes what happens on the photo and concludes with the concept that images really do have significant impact or can be "controversial". That's it. No deeper analysis, no mention of how this fits/doesn't fit with the tradition, no hint of a direction that a student should take to arrive to some conclusion of his/her own, no deeper thoughts from the lecturer. Sometimes the lecturer simply retells what is written in a book of a famous photographer, offering no personal insight. The lecture about "Black Hawk Down" literally consists of retelling the events of the battle and the subsequent work of the war journalist who covered the events. You will gain a better account of this tragic occurrence by reading a Wikipedia article than listening to those 15 minutes of stuttering, badly rehearsed speech. And what does it have to do with the role of images?.. Talk Long, my dear fellow Coursera students, so please bear with a conclusion that is also long: - On the afterthought, having witnessed the results, the fact that a historian made a series of lectures about images strikes me as a bit bizarre. Why would one want to dabble in the outside of one's professional field and offer the online audience an inadequate learning experience is beyond me. - Overall, not much of an effort was put into making the course. I apologize in advance in case there was any original, groundbreaking input from Prof. Emmet in the lectures that I didn't watch, but the reason I quit was partly because I got a strong impression there wasn't going to be any. On one of the several Coursera review websites I've seen a comment describing this course as a "university level" one. Believe me, it isn't. It's a decent listing of curious photos. - The lecturer can't boast deep knowledge about the subjects he brings up, which, I must say, doesn't help his academic credibility. Not to be accused of an empty claim, I have to note that my judgment is based on the Soviet propaganda posters section. Any member of Russian intelligentsia of Soviet times, or even a humanities student educated in Russian Federation (since 1991), whether h/she is a philologist, a historian, or an art researcher, including people from my 20+ generation, could offer a much more thorough explanation of the posters than Prof. Emmet, who contended himself with describing in what Wikipedia calls "Basic English" the images that the students could clearly see for themselves (for once). - The lecturer has awful presentation skills. I understand that not every university professor should or could be a great orator, I've met some humanities' researches who wrote brilliant monographs but were rendered mush-mouthed at the lectures, but damn! This is a flapping MOOC! The lecturer's incessant stumbling on long words, irritating bouts of repetition and low content to speech ratio could all be smoothed over with a proper filming and editing! - BAD editing. Have I mentioned that yet? - The choice of the copyrighted photos that couldn't be shown feels like a disrespect to the student and was one of the things that led to my decision to leave the course. Aren't online, free of charge MOOCs supposed to be accessible to the largest possible number of people, including those who can't afford higher education? Bringing the light of knowledge to all who long for it? Not showing the images: a) is a sign of lazy preparation: other significant images could've been picked for the course, there's no lack of them; b) undermines the glorious concept of free education that MOOCs are all about. In this course the dialogue with the student could be translated as: "I'll tell you a few words about how important this image is, but you still need to buy/rent the book or go to the library to look at it. Oh, the libraries in Ghana don't have the book? Well... you still get what I'm trying to say, right?" - No original insight form Prof. Emmet, he simply retells somebody else's work. I'm obviously very disappointed. More so because I had great expectations of this course (the curriculum was captivating) I would not recommend this to anyone. I'm sure that somewhere out there lurk the courses about art and photography, about the magic and power of a camera shot, created by people who are not only enthusiastic, but also truly professional, courses where the images are treated with attention and understanding that they deserve. And if there aren't any yet, you'd be better off reading a book on the subject of visual arts than wasting time on this course.
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