Monday, April 26, 2021

A Tentative Conclusion About Coursera


I'm going to start off with an affiliate link. It gets you 50% off either a course or the first month of a specialization (and gets me 50% of one or the other as well).

I just started my second course at Coursera. The first one got me a certificate in COVID-19 contact tracing (speaking of which, I have some thoughts I need to blog some time on why that never took off and why it was probably never going to work) via Johns Hopkins University.

The second one is a basic course in Epidemiology via the University of North Carolina.

The first course was quite straightforward. The information was presented in a well-organized manner and the quizzes/tests stuck closely to that information and how it was presented. Its estimated completion time was 5-6 hours, and that's about how long I spent on it.

The second course suffers, so far, from one problem that I've always found annoying when it presents itself. There are inline single-question quizzes in each video lecture, and some of those questions are "gotcha" questions, in at least one case with a "correct answer" that appears nowhere in the lecture itself, and in another with the "correct answer" being one not nearly as correct as another answer option. I passed the week one quiz fairly easily, but it had a couple of questions of similar construction.

It seems to me that the point of the quiz questions should be to test whether the student is paying attention and learning/retaining the information, not whether the student is good at guessing.

I must tentatively conclude that Coursera's offerings are inconsistent in quality.

Fortunately, most if not all courses can be audited for free, with a charge only if the student wants a certificate of completion for use on a resume (or, in some cases, for conversion to credit in a degree program).


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