How to pick the best MOOCs: 6 tips from a Coursera junkie

another mooc consumer report, better than most


Feynman Liang will make you feel like a slacker.

The 21-year-old is pursuing a dual-degree program in engineering and biophysics from Dartmouth and Amherst, but in the last year or so, he’s also completed 36 massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, Udacity and edX. Right now, he said, he’s taking 10 courses simultaneously — while he completes a summer internship at Google.

When his friends go out for Thursday night parties, he said he often stays back to complete Coursera assignments due the next day. And, once, he spent 80 hours on a single assignment. But he said the MOOCs have helped him pass out of lower-level classes in college and even prepped him for his Google interviews.

“I get to gain a nontrivial understanding of a field,” he said. “And it translates into me doing a lot better in college.”

In the past year, MOOCs have attracted all…

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2 thoughts on “How to pick the best MOOCs: 6 tips from a Coursera junkie

  1. Interesting – maybe I’ll go for the “The Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behaviour” though some would say I don’t need much guidance there! It’s interesting too how MOOCs are catching on among the very well-motivated. I’m hoping this is rather like how innovations in the design of road vehicles (like heaters in my lifetime!) at first only for top range eventually become universal – Gordon

    • Gordon – I’d forgotten about bundling up on trips and taking along blankets when car heaters were special features. More recently and perhaps still in more memories, A/C. Personal computers too. Remember how expensive and fragile laptops used to be? That’s an advantage to mileage – even if not the same, processes and stages are close enough to compare stages. 

      I haven’t really considered “Irrational Behavior” – same reasoning – but I know quite a few who have taken it, and all recommend, give it the same kind of review. 

      Although probably more than ready for a break, I’ve been following writing courses, mostly with an eye to how they address evaluation and feedback on student writing. So far that remains a problem area but I’m keeping a hopeful watch. They are getting better, and I’d like to be able to recommend some and advise how to use them.  Even not up to being for credit, they could be very useful for advanced ESL (TOEFL prep),  pre-college writing prep for local high school students (placement tests), practice for GED tests, and so on for students who don’t have access to or can’t afford more the more personalized and labor intensive instruction. 


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