Coursera

Last week I shared my new year resolutions and my current progress with you.

This week I want to talk about Coursera.

I haven’t been on Coursera in years. Sad but true. Life happened and other stuff was more pressing / important.

This is one of the reasons I added Coursera to my goals for the year. I want to change that. There are so many things I find interesting and want to know more about. Some could/would even impact my career.

I finally came around to having a look around.

At first I didn’t login because things change and I wanted to get a feel for what awaited me ‘inside’.

I have to say as someone working with websites (as in what do we show on a page, how do we structure it and what needs special attention) I am not so happy with what I saw. Of cause things change and that’s great. And some things just feel strange when I still remember my last course.

But I find the information on the main pages quite limited. For someone new (or in my case re-new) there is nearly nothing about general procedures. When you dive in the course information is structured and clear but general information is either not there or so well hidden I didn’t find it.

I find it actually quite sad there is no ‘Coursera on-bording’ page. It could be a link on the start page: “New to Coursera? Here’s how we work” or something. It doesn’t have to be some really big thing but an introduction, some principles (or not – could also be help pages) and links to help pages would be cool.

What really interested me:

  • What courses are available?
  • Do I have to pay something? And if yes for what and how do I see that?
  • How does taking a course work?

Catalogue browsing is easy. I could do with more filters but it works fine.

New for me: Coursera now offers specialisations. When you open one you find that taking a specialisation will cost money. Okay. But what about not paying money?

I searched for a course and did not find any information about payments. Just the offer of financial aid. Which makes you assume in the first moment you have to always pay for this course. (I was wondering since when that was normal at this point.)

I then thought about using ‘Help’. Yay. And there is a link about changes for enrolment and grading at the top.

Of cause I missed it and started to check the written posts first. I think they do not have enough pictures. 🙂 While I normally skip videos and try to find answers in texts first, pictures are a nice way to help get an overview.

Using pictures helps especially if you have non native speakers trying to find their way around.

And while I eventually clicked the link at the top I am still missing a real introduction to Coursera. (What about really new people?)

The link sends you to a blog post about the changes Coursera made to earn money from this.

I like that Coursera is upfront about it and doesn’t try to hide (much). I can also see why they choose this. I read some comments and am now very curious how it will work. Some of the concerns sound valid.

To sum all of it up:

You have to pay for specialisations (a group of related courses) and then have time to participate in the courses of the specialisation you choose. They are also offering something like projects / practical applications for specialisations.

That sounds great and I find the pricing okay. I have some concerns about how long you can take these courses once you paid for them. Knowing my life I will probably never buy a whole specialisation as I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year.

There is the option to buy a single course at a time and then work through that one in 6 months. I like this option way more.

You can also access single courses regardless of specification.

And on course pages you have the option to try for a certificate (with payment) or not (no payment necessary).

I logged in around this point.

From the comments on the blog post I also learned that they options are shown when you click “Enroll”. Uh. No, not good. That was what I was looking for and I have to click enrol when there is a mention of payment beforehand? Not going to happen without prior knowledge.

What I also find a little irritating is the inability to go to a course mentioned in a specialisation. You have to search for them by hand…. really? Link them, please. Especially as single courses do link to their specialisation… I know you want to make money but that’s not nice at all.

I have now enrolled in several courses I found interesting and am very curious about the restrictions placed on no payment students. As I understood it I will not be able to access some things like quizzes and other grade requirements.

I’ll keep you updated about my progress.

Soooo Update:

(Can I call it an update if I haven’t published the post yet?)

Anyway as I found out while browsing for other interesting courses – the watch list feature doesn’t seem to be working.

I was a little bit miffed about it as I wanted to build a list of interesting courses without enrolling already. I went on and saved the course pages elsewhere.

But then I was looking at a course that starts today (but wasn’t open yet – still asleep over in America?) and got curios about a ‘related course’ tagged with ‘superuser only’.

I create web pages. I am a super user most days. You can’t fault me for getting curios.

So it turns out this course has no sessions – at least that’s how it looks, I probably just don’t have the needed permissions, I am no superuser after all – but there was an offer to watch list… So it could be this is an old course where watch list still works or maybe you can only watch list a course with no sessions? Who knows? I hope watch list comes back soon, as enrolling into too many courses is overwhelming and not productive – at least for me and saving them elsewhere is tedious.

I also went and deleted all old courses I enrolled in but didn’t take from my profile and am now working my way through my first course.

And I am really happy about the course. It’s sooo interesting. It’s called “Learning how to learn” from the University of California, San Diego and it’s so worth the time to take it. I think registration is still possible at the moment (course started on February 1st).

I am already halfway through – the first week was available before the course started – and will see if I finish it tomorrow or the day after. I am trying to space things out a bit but it’s so interesting I want to know what comes next…

Yes, well, go check it out I can totally recommend this course it’s great.

Shutting up now.

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