Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why I stopped being a Duke student: An update on Coursera

I'm a college dropout. Well, maybe not. Definitely a Coursera dropout.

Turns out that a free online class takes up way more time than I expected, and way more than I was willing to devote to something that -- in the end -- would earn me a piece of paper.

I started taking a Coursera class a few months ago called "Sports and Society" taught by Duke professor Orin Starn. The class seemed like something I would enjoy and could use in my work.

I made it two weeks out of seven.

The course listing says the class should require 3-5 hours of work each week. There were about four video lectures a week, each lasting 10-15 minutes, along with a reading assignment. (The one I read took about 30 minutes.) After completing those, students were supposed to complete a homework assignment and take a quiz.

Two things kept me from finishing the course:

1) The subject matter wasn't interesting enough or presented in an appealing way. The lectures were videos of Starn talking to a camera with the occasional photo thrown in. The lessons were also basic, which I should have expected in a free introductory course. Of course, the lectures may have gotten more interesting after I stopped.
Which brings me to ...

2) My lack of dedication to a voluntary class. Grades and money are great motivators. I didn't pay for the course, so I didn't worry about wasting money. And I wasn't going to get a grade, so I didn't worry if I finished assignments/quizzes after deadline. Eventually, I didn't worry about finishing assignments/quizzes period.

A bright spot: I was impressed by the discussion boards. I expected the discussions to be overwhelming with so many students. But, aside from the "Who are you and where are you from?" thread, none of the topics got too out of hand. People added smart and well-thought-out comments. I started two threads that received decent response, including one from the professor.

I'm not giving up on Coursera. I see an opportunity to find a class that interests me enough to stick with it. I think the important part will be findi -- *

*I couldn't even finish a Coursera blog post. Oh well.

1 comment:

  1. I am about to embark on one or two courses on Coursera as well. From what I can surmise from your post, the most relieving part is that the participants are civil and constructive. And that the courses, just like in real life, depend on how they are taught. The subject itself does not warrant that they will be really interesting. - Layce of assignment help online.