I Just Completed My First Coursera Course, and All I Can Say Is Wow

A few weeks ago I signed up for my first Coursera course – Introduction to Probability and Data, and today I was informed that I had successfully passed the course.

The course is part of a five-course Certificate, Statistics with R Specialization (R is a computer language focused on statistical analysis);

The other four courses are:

  • Inferential Statistics
  • Linear Regression and Modeling
  • Bayesian Statistics
  • Statistics with R Capstone

I came away quite impressed with the course and the Coursera platform.

The courses are taught by faculty at Duke University and use high-quality videos to explain the course concepts. There is also an online textbook (free) that can be used with the course.

The first course was broken down into five, one-week modules, with quizzes at the end of each module as well as a computer project. To move onto the next module, you need to pass the quiz and the computer assignment.

It was nice taking the course at my own pace; when I had time, whether it was early in the morning or later in the day, the course was always there for me to work on. If I had a busy week, I could take some time away from Coursera and focus on my other responsibilities. In fact, if you fall behind, you can reset the deadline to a future date so that you are not stressed by the deadline.

One of the features I liked was the occasional motivational message posted to your account.

The first message popped up almost instantly when I signed up for the course:

  • Learners who start within an hour of enrolling complete 28% more items than the average learner. Take less than 4 minutes to get started now and watch the first lecture!

How could I ignore such a statement; it was a course in stats, and it was using stats to encourage me to strike while the iron is hot, and I did.

I received another message as I was about to take one of the end of module quizzes:

  • Only 45% of learners pass this exam on their first try. Though difficult, it’s a great way to build and apply your new skills. (Based on data from 18.4k learners)

Again, how could I ignore such a challenge, and it made me study a little bit extra so that I could be part of the 45%

One other message I received related to the final project. The final project required the student to come up with three of their own research questions related to a large data file compiled by the U.S.Government.

I had been breezing along in the course, a little bit ahead of schedule, and then I encountered the final, which was a bit more challenging than I expected. I kept putting it off, and then I started seeing messages like the following:

  • You’ve already completed 89% of your course! Reset your deadlines so you can finish, the rest!

I decided to follow the recommendation, and reset my deadline so that I could give myself ample time to complete the module.

A unique part of the course is that the final project is peer-reviewed, by other students who have completed the course. In addition, as part of the final project, I had to evaluate three student projects.

The project was a good way to tie together some of the course concepts and to enhance my R capability.

The course has had over 127,000 students take the course, with a 4.7 (out of 5.0) rating, based on nearly 3,000 ratings. Not too shabby!

The only glitch I ran into is that I posted a question to the discussion forum regarding the final project, and after a couple of days I still have not received a reply. At that point, I had to move on, and just made my own assumptions and kept moving on.

The fee for Coursera is $49 per month, which entitles you to enroll in as many courses as you want.

So for now, consider me a highly satisfied customer. I look forward to completing the certificate and then exploring what else Coursera has available.

2 thoughts on “I Just Completed My First Coursera Course, and All I Can Say Is Wow

  1. Coursera has a lot of great FREE online courses too. I love them!
    You might try Yale’s Happiness class … it is Yale’s most popular course (in person and/or online) EVER.
    And now I see why,it is SO interesting.

    I love it! As you said about yours, I say about “my” class (not really “mine” and many thousands of people take it):
    I rate it a huge “Wow!” (especially since it is free too)


    1. thanks for letting me know about the Yale class – that does sound great. Maybe once I finish this stat stuff I’ll reward myself with the happiness class. And I’m glad I don’t have too many years left as a college prof. Coursera seems to be a much better option in most cases…


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