The Golden Age of MOOCs is over and Why I hate Coursera

At dinner last night with a friend we ended up discussing how the internet has made the society fairer. We talked about the Arab Spring, the maker movement and most importantly MOOCs. I have always been a fan of MOOCs since my first exposure. The option to learn from the comfort of my room and topics which are not even offered at my university is every nerd’s dream come true. Of late we have seen MOOC providers caring less about the students and more about the $$$. I know they have the right to and maybe they should if they want to sustain the great offerings. But to begin with, they should stop the game of telling people that they care for students and are here to “provides universal access to the world’s best education”.

This is not the first time I am pissed about some MOOC provider royally screwing up students. I remember Udacity disabling the option to submit assignments for Georgia Tech OMSCS Courses. I was upset but I understood that it may be due to the pressure from the university. Things got worse with the Nanodegree saga where they deleted the old forums in the name of cleaning spam. What followed next was the removal of course notes which were nothing beyond the transcripts + screenshots of the slides. What came next was crappy courses which were teaching you frameworks instead of teaching you Computer Science. I understand Udacity’s pain they had to pivot. Maybe the founders did not want this but the ones putting in the money did. In all even though the party was mostly over they had added good to the world in terms of the materials of the excellent early courses.

Before all this came there was the phenomena of scraping off the certificates. Frankly, I don’t mind. The reason is that most of what I am learning is because I want to and not because it will land me a higher paying job. But every time Coursera makes some change what came to my mind was “It can’t get worse.”

First, they did away with the free certs like everyone else. My reaction. Meh, who cares until I can learn the cool stuff. Next, they follow it up with disabling free access to quizzes and assignments. My reaction - Why?? Everyone understands that quizzes and assignments are where a very large part of the learning happens. How am I supposed to master an algorithms course without submitting solutions to the problems? Still, they were showing quizzes and just disabled submissions. I was unhappy but still, I thought it can’t get any worse. Finally (??), They are now removing all the courses on the old platform. This is what finally broke my heart. There are tons of courses that are not on the new platform. The courses on the old platform have problem sets and quizzes and this is what seems to bother them. The loss of material in the public domain as of now both that on the forums and in the quizzes and assignments is tremendous. And obviously, they were very generous to send out a mail reminding us of backing up our data suggesting this brilliant method.

Screenshots? Thank You!

** Update: Sunday, 12. June 2016 03:30 AM** - As of now, Coursera is not charging for quizzes in every course on the new platform. Some of the courses are still completely free to enrol with full course except the certificate. I hope they keep it this way.

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