Coursera Courses Compared

I’ve reached the halfway point for the online courses mentioned in a previous post, so felt it was about time I shared my thoughts.

Introduction to Art is very much a beginners course and feels aimed at people who want choice as to how little or  much they do. The materials are based on an iTunes U course and assessment is primarily in the form of quizzes, although there is the option of uploading assigned artwork for peer review. 
Courserians who upload at least 2 pieces of artwork, and peer review other student’s work, will receive a ‘Studio Track’ certificate at the end rather than just the ‘Standard Track’ for passing the quizzes.

Climate Literacy works in a similar way to Introduction to Art – a mix of readings and videos – but the reading is taken from a wide range of sources and the assessment (quizzes, assignments, peer review, final exam and forum participation) feels more rigorous. Where Introduction to Art feels like an evening class, Climate Literacy feels like an HE level module.

Climate Literacy also gave me the option to try Coursera’s Signature Track for a reduced fee. The Signature Track allows you to verify that it is in fact you taking the course, and while the module still doesn’t accrue college credits, and you can’t claim to have studied at the university in question (fair enough, I didn’t), it allows you to offer proof of completion if you want to include the module on your resume.

The asynchronous method of the forums for these courses makes it hard to gauge how many people have fallen away (a recent Guardian article estimates that less than 10% of students on moocs complete their courses), but the forums remain busy, suggesting that students are engaging with the topics even if they don’t have time to complete the assignments.

The timetable for these courses can be quite rigid – there is no option to catch up on an assignment if you missed a week – but the option to add a course to your watch list, and the frequency with which they seem to run, suggest this may be a minor problem.

These will not be the last Coursera courses I take – in fact I start Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention on Monday, and have a couple more lined up for September. I also look forward to experiencing FutureLearn – the UK based mooc that starts up soon.

Further comparisons to follow?



  1. jamal says:

    It’s an excellent opportunity to join for Free Online Courses with Certificate from World’s best universities.

    1. epalmerbrown says:

      Thanks I’ll take a look at it.

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