Monday, May 13, 2013

Zeikow's comments on his first MOOC

Many people to whom I've bubbled (or babbled as the case may be) about Coursera have been a bit skeptical about how seriously students would follow a course they never bothered to pay for and for which they will not get a formal credit.  Frankly, so was I.

Professor Zelikov, who taught The Modern World: Global History Since 1760, provided some information in his farewell message now that the course is over.

  • 47,000 enrolled
  • 26,000 sampled at least some part of the class.  Since there's no money exchanging hands here, it's pretty easy to enrol on a whim and then not bother to participate.
  • 13-15,000 really 'gave it a go' in Zelikov's words
    • 5,000 earned Statements of Accomplishments
    • 5,000 audited the course seriously but did not get a Statement of Accomplishment.  This group would include me.  I followed all the lectures, took some notes, took all the quizzes and got almost everything right.  But I started the course late and never caught up, so I guess my quizzes didn't count, as I didn't get a Statement of Accomplishment.
It looks as if about a third of the people who enrolled actually took the course seriously.  For a course where a student had no 'skin in the game' in terms of a registration fee, this seems like an high rate of participation.  And it suggests they were all interested in pure learning, since even a Statement of Accomplishment probably doesn't buy you anything.  Yet.  Maybe sometime soon Coursera credentials will be worth something more than self-satisfaction.

Zelikov is clearly very gratified by his own participation in the course.  He's a busy man, a dean at University of Virginia, so I'm sure this represented a huge commitment of time for him. 

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