Thursday, August 30, 2012

An OER Model for College-Level Courses: Coursera

Coursera combines the time-length constraints of a traditional course with the expertise of experts, professors, and peers in the open education community.  Through Coursera, sixteen colleges and universities offer non-credit certificate courses in sixteen different categories.  The categories offer some similarities to Saylor’s areas of study (ie. they both are similar to majors a four-year degree would have), but Coursera doesn’t offer course sequence map or degree program suggestions. 

I particularly like the Honor Code that students need to accept before entering every course for the first time.  It’s a nice confirmation that even though it is a free online course, academic integrity still applies. 

Reading deeper into the terms of usage, I found that the course materials aren’t covered under a CC-BY.  Their policy states, “You may not otherwise copy, reproduce, retransmit, distribute, publish, commercially exploit or otherwise transfer any material, nor may you modify or create derivatives works of the material” (Terms of Use).  Every open education organization is defining what it means to be “open” a little differently.  Coursera’s offers free, massive open (enrollment) online courses (MOOCs) for non-credit certificates. 

Although there is an instructor, the peer community is just as important.  If you live in a major city (New York, London, Moscow, San Francisco) you can sign up for a face-to-face Meetups with fellow “Courserians.”  There isn’t anything close enough to me, yet, but the one in NYC has an event in two weeks with 42 people attending.  Those are better numbers than some traditional face-to-face courses.

I’m enrolled for “Gamification” taught by Kevin Werbach from the University of Pennsylvania.  I think I will just be auditing the course for now as I’m already taking a for-credit course at the University at Albany for my PhD, but I may try to finish a few of the quizzes.  It’s also making me wonder if I would want to do an independent study in Gamification and Education for my degree.  The course content is fantastic.

I think that I would complete even more if there wasn’t a time limit.  This is why it’s great that there are so many models; every student has slightly different needs.  I can see where having a time limit would keep me from procrastinating.  For example, when I sign in there is a great timeline that shows how far along I am in the course to remind me I need to get to work.  So I will!


  1. Thanks for sharing, I always love searching online courses for my kids. I usually do research some websites or visit link that features different articles.

  2. A college lever course, especially if offered as one of the free online college classes, would be a big hit. :)

  3. I totally agree with you on that Liza. I guess that is what also has to say.