Tag Archives: online course

My MOOC Life (So Far): Part 6 – Why We Post Update

SoundCloud Podcast

The FutureLearn MOOC “Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media” has officially finished (although the course stays open). The creators of the course have shared a podcast in which they answer some of the student questions from the final weeks. This is a nice way to close the course (although I think I would have preferred a video – as this would have followed that way the previous content was shared).

The end-of-course email was a good touch. Not all MOOCs I have looked at do this. The email is an efficient way of reminding students of the various resources that they have encountered, as well as alerting students other educational options (upselling). With Why We Post, this was a link to the MSc in Digital Anthropology.


Innovative Advertising

Stukent Advertising

Open, and magically a video starts playing automatically.

I received a rather nifty package at work yesterday, one of the the more interesting examples of advertising I have seen for some time…

In the same way that some birthday cards play a message or tune as you open them, this mailer started to play an advertising video. A hidden magnet detects whether the cover is open or closed, and plays the video on a loop when open.


I was impressed.


The mysterious “Ad”

I don’t really have need of the service (stukent.com/special), but I started to experiment with the package. At the bottom of the mailer I could see a Mini-USB port. Connecting a cable allowed me to see that the device showed up as external storage (Ad), with a video directory. Providing I replaced the existing video file there with nothing larger than 97.4 MB, I could play my own videos on the device. Neat.

When I have more time to kill, I am going to cut away the cardboard exterior, and see how I can repurpose this. Possibly in a small frame. Could make for a clever animated wallhanging.

Thank you mysterious stranger for sending me this. I hope you get some business out of this…


After posting (yesterday) about the Coursera Social Network Analysis MOOC I received a form email that impressed me. It looks like the Coursera staff are monitoring the Web for conversation about this particular MOOC. The email was well crafted and balanced, conveying respect for those who wanted to blog about the course but reminding students of the honour code.

To summarize the email:

  • Posting solutions to quiz problems is not allowed.
  • Sharing experiences, ideas, and examples that go beyond the assignments is allowed.
  • Sharing/discussing assignments after the deadline is allowed, but this should not take place publicly (i.e. on a blog)

The email concluded with a reminder of the Coursera honor code:

  • My answers to homework, quizzes and exams will be my own work (except for assignments that explicitly permit collaboration).
  • I will not make solutions to homework, quizzes or exams available to anyone else. This includes both solutions written by me, as well as any official solutions provided by the course staff.
  • I will not engage in any other activities that will dishonestly improve my results or dishonestly improve/hurt the results of others.

I was impressed that Coursera is actively communicating and reinforcing the honor code. I have noticed that for other/older Coursera courses that some students have posted old quiz questions and possible solutions. Hopefully the reminder emails will limit the sharing of assignment information.

Coursera Screenshot

I am watching the Week 1 videos as I travel too and from work. Being able to download the videos to a tablet, and then watching them on the El has been very helpful. In my last course the instructor positioned the camera in such a way to capture footage of him working with a Wacom Cintiq display and splitscreen the results with Camtasia (on the Mac). This instructor is using a splitscreen that mixes PowerPoint slides with a talking head – the downside of this is sometimes the experience is akin to the “uncanny valley,” the instructors eyes and attention is directed away from the camera (towards off-camera notes) and the communication does not work as well. But when you get the “direct eye contact” the presentation comes across particularly well, and the instructors passion for the subject makes the topic come alive.

I definitely get the opinion that the Coursera MOOCs (and maybe all MOOC in general) are faculty-driven. The faculty are doing this because they love the topics and the idea of open education.

Coursea Course Statistics


I am in the final weeks of a Cousera course (Internet History, Technology, and Security), and the instructor has kindly shared the demographic data provided (via a survey) for the students in the MOOC. As Charles Severance says:

Of course the caveat is that it is not scientific, it is partial, incomplete, your results may vary, void where prohibited, etc etc etc. It is anecdotal at best but certainly interesting. This is not all the data but the other items like country need some coding as they were fill-in-the-blank and folks filled it in a lot of ways.

Is this your first online class?

  • 1611 Yes
  • 1942 No

Is this your first large, free, online course (i.e. MOOC)?

  • 2232 Yes
  • 1319 No

Which best describes your motivation for taking this class? Check all that apply:

  • 2677 General interest in the topic
  • 2215 Extending current knowledge of the topic
  • 442 Supplement other college/university classes courses
  • 203 Decide if I want to take college/university classes on the topic
  • 1539 Professional development
  • 1437 Interest in how these courses are taught

Are you currently a student in a school or college?

  • 972 Yes
  • 2572 No

What is your highest level of education?

  • 81 Some high school
  • 298 High school
  • 363 Some college
  • 207 Associate’s degree (2 years of college)
  • 1234 Bachelor’s degree (BA/BS, 4 years of college)
  • 1016 Master’s degree
  • 186 Doctoral degree
  • 174 Professional degree (MD, JD)

Are you currently a teacher?

  • 451 Yes
  • 3088 No

If you are a teacher, are you thinking about reusing some of the material in this course for your own course?

  • 510 Yes
  • 1496 No

What is your gender?

  • 2387 Male
  • 1121 Female
  • 31 Decline to state

What is your age?

  • 75 I prefer not to answer
  • 757 18-24
  • 1189 25-34
  • 621 35-44
  • 491 45-54
  • 420 55+

Power Searching with Google

Power Searching With Google

Power Searching With Google

I received my certificate for successfully completing the “Power Searching with Google” online course. I decided to upload to the site rather than following Google’s suggestion to print out the certificate and affix to my wall.

I was impressed with what Google put together. Essentially this was a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with short video presentations/tutorials immediately followed by short exercises to demonstrate learning. The element that I found less impressive was the use of Google Groups discussion boards – meaningful conversation was drowned out by the sheer number of participants. However, this criticism is endemic to MOOCS.

Also, Google did a great job at transcribing the videos. In some ways the written elements are an easier method to learn. Printing these out (or viewing them on a second screen) whilst watching the videos was a good way to learn.

Power Searching With Google

Google Power Search

Google Power Search

I have signed up for the “Power Searching With Google” course that starts in July. I am very interested in seeing what is covered, and the types of people who will sign up. The cynical part of me assumes that there will be a significant SEO / Internet Marketing presence (looking for ways to optimize their organic search listings), rather than ordinary folks looking to search smarter/quicker/better. Anyway, my understanding so far is that the course officially launches on the 10th July, with a series of one-hour asynchronous sessions:

  • Class 1 available: July 10
  • Class 2 available: July 11
  • Class 3 available: July 12
  • Hangout on Air with search experts: July 13 3:00-3:45pm Central Time
  • Mid-class assessment due: July 17 at 9:59am Central Time
  • Class 4 available: July 17
  • Class 5 available: July 18
  • Class 6 available: July 19
  • Hangout on Air with search experts: July 19 1:00-1:45pm Central Time
  • Final assessment due: July 23 at 6:59pm Central Time