Saturday, October 06, 2012


I just completed my first Coursera Class.  Several months ago I heard about Coursera, and was intrigued by the opportunity to take educational classes taught by highly praised professors from top Universities (Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, etc...).   All of these classes are offered for free and tens of thousands of people are signing up for each class.

I enrolled in the Gamification course taught by Kevin Werbach (Associate Professor, The Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania).  I was interested in this class because of how gamification is impacting the ongoing discussions and changes in the meetings business.  There is a big push to find new ways to get attendees engaged at conferences, and gamification keeps popping up as a topic of interest.

The class was very well structured, and was by no means an easy endeavor.  It was clearly a college level course and required several hours each week to complete.  There were video lectures, quizzes, written assignments, online discussion forums, and a final exam.  The commitment to the class was more than I had assumed, but the educational value was high level.

The information was thought provoking, and I looked forward to watching the nearly two hours of lectures each week.  Professor Werbach made the topic interesting and the Coursera platform was excellent in how it made the entire experience challenging and rewarding.

The class did have a "pass / fail" element, and was heavily tied to the calendar deadlines.  Early in the six week period I did not realize that there was no gray area for a time to take a quiz or submit an assignment.  Somehow I thought the online elements of the class lent to more flexibility.  NOPE.

While the early work was not weighted as heavily on the final grade as later assignments, I missed two early deadlines because of my work related travel schedule - and that put me into a no-pass situation.  (While the final grade is not yet posted, my guess is I will miss it by just a few points... which would have been a non-issue had I not missed a quiz or the first writing assignment).  There was no way to go back and make up the work, and with 80,000 people enrolled in the course it was not as if one could to to the professor and ask for an extension.

However, I did not take the class to earn a "certificate".  I enrolled for the learning and to experience all that Coursera had to offer.  I wish I had better understood the importance the small stuff early on in the process, as not receiving the "passing" grade left me feeling as if I had somehow failed (I hate to fail)..  Yet there was no failure.  My Coursera experience was a success.  My grade on the final was 86% and I have a new understanding of what it takes to successfully engage game elements into a non-game environment.

I will be taking more Coursera classes.  I am a big believer in "life-long learning", and while I read a lot of books and attend many seminars, this class was a superior way to engage in a topic.  If you have not yet explored Coursera, I suggest you sign up for a class (But take the time commitment seriously and do not miss any deadlines!).

Have A Great Day

thom singer


Anonymous said...

Hello Tom. great summery of the course. i have not yet submit the final exam. i agree with your vision.
let´s keep going into continuous education.

Anonymous said...

There were extensions of the time to submit some of the assignments and the final exam.