Sunday, 14 April 2013

First thoughts on Coursera


Earlier this month I started my first MOOC (if I have to tell you that stands for Massive Open Online Courses, then really I need to ask, where have you been for the last year?).

I actually signed up for this course last September, after returning from the ALPSP annual conference all fired up after hearing an excellent presentation the fantastic Charlie Rapple of TBI gave on change in the industry.

Interestingly enough, as is usual in our household, my husband had not only signed up for a MOOC long before this, he had also completed two courses (both ridiculously hard mathematical modules), and had been wildly and enthusiastically telling me to check out Coursera.

So, with my new found excitement for the growth of 'gamification', I signed up for Kevin Werbach's Gamification course on Coursera. Werbach is Associate Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. There have been reports recently about the elitism of Coursera, in only working with the best schools. Having now engaged with a course, I can completely understand why they want to maintain this stamp of quality, and I sincerely hope that every course is as excellent as this one.

I didn't really know what to expect. I was feeling a little concerned actually when two weeks beforehand I still hadn't any more information about the course than a one paragraph summary of what it was. As you may have guessed from my enthusiasm above however, I needn't have been worried. Leading up to day one, I had two email reminders. I was also asked to complete a course questionnaire, asking about my technology and Internet speeds. It gave me a really clear summary of what would be available once the course started and where to access the information.

Finally April arrived, and the emails landed with course information. I get at least one email a week updating me on when new course lectures are available, and providing me with reminders about assessments. The Coursera platform itself is attractive and easy to engage with, and the video lectures work really well. I've been able to watch all of them on my daily commute over 3G, which I wasn't sure would be possible. The only downside is not being able to download video to iPad, but it's a small limitation only.

The course itself? Wow. I am so excited by what I'm learning. Gamification is without a doubt something all businesses should be carefully analysing, and I'm going to be blogging a lot more about what I'm learning and how it might apply for PR and publishing...