Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Coursera course not going as planned...

I'm currently enrolled in Computational Investing, Part I, offered through Coursera, taught by Tucker Balch from Georgia Institute of Technology. I signed up for a few reasons; to learn more about MOOCs, to use some of the techniques and methods in my personal investing, and to learn a bit of Python.

We are currently in Week 5 (out of 8) and I just got this message:

Hello all,

Module 2 for Week 5 has been released. 

Due to our delay in releasing content, I've asked that the course be extended one week. Thanks for your patience in our content creation.

So far in this class we've had one assignment that the professor offered up in a video, and in the discussion forum, but had no way to collect it, other than email. There was some outcry by students about being confused as to how to submit the assignment. Over the next few days the assignment was fleshed out, and an assignment page was presented. I didn't attempt the assignment, it being a paper trading exercise, using the Sharpe Ratio, something I've played with before.

There are also supposed to be programming assignments in the course, using Python, and some custom software. While there have been videos demonstrating how to install the required software, there haven't been any assignments, and actual demonstrations of using the software have been minimal.

This is quite different than the Computing for Data Analysis course I took through Coursera, where the vast majority of content and assignments were ready ahead of time. There was a hiccup with the first assignment, but it was fixed fairly quickly.

In no way am I faulting Tucker Balch for the state of the course, but I do wish Coursera or GIT provided him an Instructional Designer, or a Project Manager to flesh out the course before it was offered. In my experiences teaching face-to-face and online, its clear that the content creation part of an online course is weeks, if not months, before that of a face-to-face course, which is usually in class. This is a fundamental paradigm shift, one I don't think was conveyed to Professor Balch.

One thing that has gotten progressively better in the course are his videos. They've become a bit more planned out, and it seems that he is editing his own videos giving him finer control, and making him more comfortable on screen. I do wish he would change out the songs each week/module.

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