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coursera - paywall for some content

 
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Coursera is going to charge for the graded quizzes and assignments. This was announced in October, but I didn't notice then.

In the past, they switched to charging if you wanted a certificate/statement of accomplishment. I paid for one course when they started that to support the course created. It was annoying because you have to verify by typing a sentence and taking a picture every time you do a quiz or assignment. I didn't want the certificate/statement of accomplishment so this tradeoff wasn't worth it. You want my $ and my time?

There is still the ability to audit courses for free. Paying costs $50-$100 per course. Most courses lately appear to run 4 weeks. (Either they used to be longer or the courses I'm sampling are shorter.) From a cost point of view, I think *some* of the MOOCs I've taken are worth $50-$100. Many are not. This is true of books too. Some are worth what you pay for and some are not. The difference is that I like taking MOOCs in the first session they are offered so there are no reviews yet. I feel there is a bigger critical mass of students taking it them which makes the forums more interesting. (not sure if this is true or not.)

I'm signed up for two courses that start this month. One I'm somewhat interested in the videos and wasn't sure if I was going to do the assignments anyway. (based on the prior course by the same professor, I wouldn't pay for it as I don't meet the course pre-reqs so a lot goes over my head. In fact, I had doubts as to whether even sign up for the second course.) The other I'm more interested in the forums than the videos or assignments. If the videos are really good, I'd consider paying to support it. I'm worried that the forums are going to be a very quiet place if people don't sign up because it is no longer free.

Which means the classes are losing some of the openness of a Massively Open Online Course. That makes me sad.

Thoughts?
 
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Interesting development - thanks for posting to remind us. It was probably inevitable anyway, as they've got to start earning money somewhere sooner or later. I've done several Coursera courses for free, and they were mostly pretty good. I would consider paying for some courses of this quality, but it's hard to know if you're going to get that quality when you sign up. Also, the whole process of registering for for the paid certificate etc looked kind of tiresome, so I never bothered.

I've also noticed that many of the courses seem to be shorter than they were. Maybe this is simply a way to boost their completion rates, as my impression is that no more than 10-20% of registered students actually finish a MOOC course, and many students simply try a course for a week or two then drop out if they don't like it. Also, there seems to be a common pattern of turning one or two modules into a chain of smaller modules on a "learning path" to encourage students to pay for the set. For example, the Johns Hopkins courses on data science were broken up into smaller units to create a "learning path" of multiple modules, where students could pay for a certificate showing they'd completed the whole set of courses.

I wonder what will happen with the MOOCs as Coursera, Udacity and EdX seem to be converging on a common model i.e. it's free to audit a course, but all the coursework and certificates have to be paid for. Personally, if I'm paying for a course, I'm probably going to focus on the ones that get good reviews and are delivered by providers with a strong track record and specifically relevant expertise. I would be less inclined to pay to take a punt on a new course if I didn't have this information available.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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chris webster wrote:it's free to audit a course, but all the coursework and certificates have to be paid for. Personally, if I'm paying for a course, I'm probably going to focus on the ones that get good reviews and are delivered by providers with a strong track record and specifically relevant expertise. I would be less inclined to pay to take a punt on a new course if I didn't have this information available.


Yeah, I'd probably pay for some. But not "hey, that sounds like it might be interesting" ones. I do like that they are letting you see the assignments before you choose whether to pay. Maybe this will get the assignments to be more consistently good in quality. I'm probably going to audit a couple courses first and see whether they still have enough of the "massively" part of MOOC in them. I've taken a couple classes lately that didn't have enough people in the forum to have good discussions. And a couple where the TAs didn't reply in the forum to problems with the assignments (not people understanding, actual problems).

One problem with showing the assignments but charging to grade them, is a lot of the assignments are peer reviewed. (with some classes having automated checks.) For the peer reviewed ones, I frequently get no/useless feedback. So I'm paying just for that?
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Hmm. So far I can see the quiz questions and assignments and just not submit them. That might change as time goes on. But right now, they ware saying that hit or miss peer review by fellow students is worth $20/week.
 
chris webster
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Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Hmm. So far I can see the quiz questions and assignments and just not submit them. That might change as time goes on. But right now, they ware saying that hit or miss peer review by fellow students is worth $20/week.


Not to me, it isn't!
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Chris: Same here. And so far the discussion in the forum has been very sparse as well.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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Update on this: I was signed up for two courses. One uses the old system where you can do the assignments for free. The other does not. I wound up dropping both classes.

The first class assumes a bunch of background knowledge in math - which is fine - except they don't tell you what it is. And it is very cumulative so if you fall behind, you are done. I don't have enough time to poke at it so I gave up in week two. That one was free. I wouldn't have paid money to try it out as I suspected that would happen.

The other class, I was just auditing because I was curious about the conversations. They were fine. But the Coursera nagging you to pay/sign up for a future course where you can do the assignments was annoying so I dropped it to.
 
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