Coursera Review

Posted by admin on June 23, 2012 under Review | 2 Comments to Read

Coursera reviewsIt seems as if staff members of Stanford University are on some kind of mission to revolutionize the educational system. It is clear that they recognize the fact that university education in the United States is simply too expensive. Students usually end up owing tens of thousands of dollars in bank loans and are forced to start paying it back within a short space of time. It can take years to repay these debts and certain academics are up in arms about the fact that debt is the main legacy of college education. Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller are computer science professors in Stanford University and have taken leave to launch Coursera.

Funding
The dynamic duo are the latest Stanford professors to leave the nest as they follow in the footsteps of Sebastian Thrun, co-founder of Udacity and former Stanford professor. While Thrun used his own cash to fund his venture, Coursera is backed by $16 million worth of funding which came from NEA and Kleiner Perkins. At the time of writing, Coursera is absolutely free and primarily involves computer classes like Udacity. However, medical courses, poetry and sociology are also on the curriculum. Even more impressively, Coursera have managed to sign up Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania so far as their partners. This provides credibility and additional teaching assistance.

Success
The first set of classes were launched on 23 April 2012. Ng was involved with the free classes offered by Thrun in the fall of 2011 and taught Machine Learning. For that course, Ng had more than 100,000 students and almost half the applicants completed at least one homework assignment. Approximately 23,000 students completed most of the class and 13,000 received their certificate of accomplishment. Around 12.5% of students received their certificate overall. While this may seem low, you have to remember that most people only applied out of curiosity. When Coursera and similar online platforms become better known, expect this rate to rise. Ng was delighted with the success of the course and will be offering it again on Coursera.

Cons
It is hard to be critical of Coursera. About the only downsides are the fact that there is no substitute for being in an academic environment and the fact that college courses involve a large number of writing projects. It is not possible to assign multiple writing projects to a class of over 100,000 students! None of this will be of any concern to those who do enroll as they get a once in a lifetime educational opportunity for free.

Verdict
The sky really is the limit for Coursera. With such widespread financial and academic backing, a large list of accomplished course instructors, an incredible level of interest and a free internet platform, it is hard to see how it can fail in its aim of making education available to everyone. Unlike Udacity which focuses on computer classes alone, Coursera has plans to introduce classes in biology, mathematics, business, social sciences and more. Koller and Ng have already spoken of their desire to implement an ambitious grading system for their thousands of students. This would be yet another remarkable achievement.

  • Oneota said,

    Well, I for one can be critical. I have signed up for a free Coursera course. There were two options: free or $49 for a certificate. Even though I signed up for the free option, I have to use some clunky typing-pattern recognition software. After many tries, I finally got through by not typing normally, but typing one letter at a time (which any-one could copy). Next, I was — only at this point — told that I needed a Webcam. I presumably have one (my computer guide says so), but I have not had any interest in using one before. You might argue that that’s my problem and I don’t deserve to take the course if I can’t figure that out, but I disagree. The only prerequisites were ” you should know how to download and install software and be able to make folders and organize files on your computer….” Coursera does tell how to set up a built-in Webcam, but the instructions refer to buttons etc. that simply are not visible on my computer. Another problem was that after I had registered and the course had begun, I was given a link to “start the course.” However, that link was just a general Coursera site, where I had to use a search function to find the course.

  • Anita Barnes said,

    I’ll ditto the above e-mail. You can’t pass the course until 4 people review your submissions. They told me to put a post in to advertise so others would review my writings. It sounds to me like they wanted me to get 4 peers to pay and review. With $16 million in funding, why are they trying to pop another $196 from my friends. I liked the course, but this BS causes me to tell my friends the truth of this scam.

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