Saturday, April 27, 2013

Useful Genetics, three days in

Four days before our first lectures appear (Module 1: How different are we?), here are the latest stats:
About 1000 students have done our two surveys and the Preparation self-test.  These numbers are quite reasonable - it's well-established that most of the students who register for a Coursera course are just browsing.  We'll be interested to see how the numbers change once the lectures begin.

We're increasingly glad we opened the course a week early.  The night before last some students began reporting that they couldn't download or stream videos, though most students seemed to have no problem.  It took the Coursera engineers about 24 hrs to identify and fix the problem; I'll have to ask them whether it was caused by something that we did incorrectly or just some bug in their system.  But I'm really happy that this happened before the lectures start.  (One of my goals is to set a very positive tone at the start of the course, letting the students see that we're being helpful and responsive, so later they'll not panic when problems inevitably arise.)

There's already lots going on in the discussion forums.  We've inherited a self-titled 'Genetics Gang' from Mohammed Noor's Coursera course Introduction to Genetics and Evolution; they seem knowledgable and enthusiastic so I'm expecting them to be an asset to the course.

The file containing our DNA replication stop-motion animation is gone for good (lesson: don't create important new files inside a Dropbox folder).  I don't know if we'll have time to recreate it, so I guess I should provide an explanation for the students.  Maybe in the next 'announcement', when we announce the availability of the Module 1 materials on Wednesday.


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