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What a mess!

  • 11 March 2019
  • 35 replies

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Userlevel 3
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Your explanations are truly appreciated and enlightening. I am starting to understand the system. And of course no-one can be forced to take a course, just to review my assignments, I would not want that anyway. I hope that students as passionate about the subject as I am, will be kind enough to review it sooner or later.

However the system does not deal with the problem, that I am paying to wait for reviews, and if this happens more than once during the 16 weeks, then I may end up having to pay much more than I anticipated. And I live on a small pension, with very little leeway in the budget.

I do see, that non-paying students are not at fault, and it is simply caused by a lack of enough paying students. In courses like mine, however, there is a distinct advantage to have everyone start and finish at the same time. At least we did not have any problems with peer reviews in the previous courses I have taken. And the old platform with set start and stop, meant that the paying students were bundled together, giving a better chance that your assignment was reviewed on time.

And if there was any problems, there were Mentors we could contact, this course does not seem to have any, whether it is because of changes to the set-up, or simply no-one wants to do it, I cannot say. I have myself taken the course for mentors, though I did not quite finish it.

Once more thank you for taking time to adress my frustration in a kind and empathetic way. It probably means more than you can imagine.

Best wishes,


Festina Lente
Userlevel 3
Badge +3

As you conclude yourself, the kind of courses I take, rely heavily on group participation where everyone is at the same level. In other words it is not suited to the, 'Finish at your own pace' concept. What I don't understand is, how Coursera cannot see that not all subject matters fits into digital algorithm's. Surely it cannot be for a lack of intelligence.

The 'Finish at your own pace', may suit fact based courses, where there are definitive answers to questions in a quiz or a test with multiple answer choices, where two and two makes four. There you would in a sense not even need peer reviews.

I am now in the situation, that I am preparing my 4th assignment, without having been graded on neither 2nd or 3rd assignment, and with no apparent view to ever having them graded. My first assignment only received one peer review, which gave a pass, but lacked in every other aspect. So óne peer review over three assignments, where I should have received nine in all.

As I have tried to explain, the assignments and peer reviews in 'Creative Writing'; is the course!

Without peer reviews, three of them at every assignment, the whole course makes no sense, then I might as well sit at home by myself, writing to prompts. Then the courses here are a waste of time and money.

It is more than anything, assignments and peer reviews which is our learning curve. The readers view of an essay, their taste, how well they understood what you were trying to convey. How well they understood your writings.

If I do not very soon get reviewed, and not just one review per assignment, I will be forced to unenroll the Specialisation, as there is no indication, why I should get peer reviews in the next week or so, nothing which makes me believe I will. How could I believe it? I don't even know if I would be able to continue with the second course in the specialisation? And even if I could, what is the point if I still get no reviews?

I hope Coursera will, at least, take these matters into consideration. If not, the 'Memoir & Personal Essay' Specialisation, will be the first course I unenroll from and the last I have enrolled in. I am just asking Coursera to try to understand, that all courses are not just courses, and to use some common sense.

I want to study and learn with Coursera, not just now, but in years to come. But not under these circumstances.

Kind regards,


@Laura @Claire
It is more than anything, assignments and peer reviews which is our learning curve. The readers view of an essay, their taste, how well they understood what you were trying to convey. How well they understood your writings.

@Xamãma, yes, I fully understand why learners in your course need the peer review process. In other courses, quizzes and programming assignments are graded automatically, so learners would be able to do them on their own. As I mentioned earlier, the presence of some TAs could improve the situation.

If I do not very soon get reviewed, and not just one review per assignment, I will be forced to unenroll the Specialisation, as there is no indication, why I should get peer reviews in the next week or so, nothing which makes me believe I will. How could I believe it? I don't even know if I would be able to continue with the second course in the specialisation? And even if I could, what is the point if I still get no reviews?

Unfortunately, I'm in no position to do anything about it. I mean I cannot say whether you should unsubscribe or not as I'm not aware that how many reviews your ungraded assignments have received so far, but I appreciate your valuable feedback.

I hope Coursera will, at least, take these matters into consideration.

I hope so, too.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3
Thank you for understanding the difference in types of courses, and how they are evalutated. And how the 'Finish at your own pace' does not work for all coursera courses, unfortunately it is not a 'one size fits all'.

Please do explain to me what TAs means, I am not familiar with the term/abbreviation?

Kind regards,

My pleasure, @Xamãma.
TA stands for Teaching Assistant. I used it as an umbrella term to refer to Mentors, Teaching Staff, or any other person who can help learners in a course.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Thank you 🙂
Userlevel 7
Badge +13
We hear what you are saying, @Xamãma. The Coursera team appreciates getting feedback from learners like you as it helps us improve the experience. Thank you for your patience as we strive to meet the needs of a large and diverse learner community.

Thank you for sharing your insights, @Maryam.
Userlevel 3
Badge +3

Thank you. I hope you are able to convey it to those who can make the necessary decisions and change. Thank you.
Userlevel 1
I am very dissapointed.

When I started my first specialsation almost 2 years ago, the course forums were still lively functioning platforms with a social aspect to it.

Then Coursera decided, like almost every platform, to work with 'Facebook Connect', which killed the forums.

We were told that there would be a facebook page for the courses. Any of those I have not found yet.

Now there is a 'Community', within Coursera's homepage, which I believe one must be a computer expert (I am not) to find ones way around. Are Coursera aware that there are students, who were not born with a screen glued to their noses?

Yesterday, after some time, I managed to enter the community, and also write a comment, but today, I have been back and forth, for I don't know how long and have still not found a way in, except to write this comment.

One can hardly call Coursera a community any longer, I certainly have no sense of belonging to a community anymore. In this aspect I am deeply dissapointed.

Kind regards,



I like Coursera, but if you are looking for classes with more lively discussion forums and a start and end time, you could try EDX.org

I found the navigation tricky at first. Especially submitting assignments, I would suggest completing the first few assignments early so if you submit them incorrectly, you will have tome to fix that before the deadline.

Best of luck!
Oh man... on the "note taking" part of this discussion chain I am sorry but I cannot resist writing back... There are too many complaints like this and I simply don't feel them justified.

My story: One of the best things in my professional life when I was acquainted with Microsoft OneNote in 2015. Since then I have been much more organized, efficient, I can find anything in a blink of an eye - it really changed my life and I have used it on a daily basis ever since then, not only for work, it is a great help in my personal life as well (organizing vacations, tracking shopping lists, you name it). I definitely would not have been able to perform in 3 roles in parallel for 6 months if I had been carrying tons of sticky paper notes or different notebooks with me from meeting to meeting, running on the corridor. Even imagining it makes me laugh... I was leading teams and big projects and I am pretty sure I could not have been able to manage without a fast, efficient way of note taking and action tracking. It saved hours on a weekly basis for me.

As a project manager I had a colleague of mine, an old-school Russian technical person, whom I deeply respected for his decades long technical expertise, he is one of the most intelligent people I have ever worked with but his way of organizing his work were really old school... He used to take notes during meetings and phone calls with his pen into his paper notebook. Believe me he could not remember a thing better than I did from my electronic notes. When someone asked a question, he did not even remember if he had made any notes on the topic and if so, where had made them, on which part of his notebook. And he almost never remembered any details he had written before (numbers, dates, people's names, details of agreements with clients, next steps etc). So for him, it seems taking notes via handwriting did not really help improving his memory... All you could hear during calls with clients were his hands desperately turning pages over and over and over, back and forth, back and forth... it was a very embarrassing situation, him being the most senior person on the calls he was the one addressed the questions to reply.... Meanwhile I could find anything in seconds, a lot of times I silently helped him out via sending the necessary notes electronically to him so that he could reply (copying from my notebook to a chat window while he was still searching in his paper notes). And weirdly enough, I remembered which pages I made the notes because I had applied a quite trustworthy and consistent logic in structuring my section groups, sections, pages, subpages etc. Sometimes I even remembered some of the details of the notes I had earlier taken - without looking. So even if the built-in search function of the notebook had not been working for some reason (memory/indexing issues may cause that from time to time) I could still have a chance to find the pieces of info. There were dozens of colleagues like him, all boasting how neat and old-school is to have a paper notebook and a calendar with them. Then, after a few weeks' time joining the company I started to hold trainings on how to get better organized with OneNote to my colleagues. As a result, hundreds of people switched their old note taking habits to OneNote after my trainings. And no, I did not use to work for Microsoft and nobody is paying for me advertising their product here or anything, I just like it and I think it helps, that is it. I guess Evernote and the other tools on the market would also work just fine, I just happen to get to know OneNote.

Fun fact: I was already months in a new role when this old-school Russian ex colleague - who had never come to my trainings and he had said he would never throw out his paper notebook - called me asking if I could help him out a bit because he got stuck a bit in his new shared OneNote notebook he created. Then he confessed that when he had inherited my electronic work notebook as part of our handover when I left the role, he realized how much information I managed to collect and organize efficiently in a short period of time (much more than he did) and what a great tool OneNote was. So he ultimately gave up his old habits, probably he was the last one on the PM team doing so.

The only times when I was still making paper notes at work were: face to face meetings with my direct reports, business coaching sessions with my coachees and when I was interviewing someone. I am aware of the significance of the eye contact and full personal focus on the other person if the meeting is not 100% about business but personal matters as well - or getting to know better the other participant, like in interviews. Also, as I type quite fast and loud (I was trained blind typing at high shool on mechanical typewriters whose keys you used to press hard) it might be annoying if I kept typing during an interview. Still, AFTER these meetings I recorded most of my hand written notes into electronic format. Because I needed them later on.

I have also read psychological articles about the effect of paper notes vs electronic notes, I love reading books and articles on psychology, quite many on neurology recently, just for fun. On very high level I know some bits & pieces of the different parts of brain and how memory works (in fact, I even took a Coursera course on "Understanding Memory") . I'm not challenging all those survey results or studies as I am not a psychologist but I think it is a bit like unrealistic if we clinged too much on old ways of working on ALL areas of life - even where the modern way of living, the multinational work environments and expectations, the amount of work to be done simply do not allow all of us to remain slow and inefficient anymore. For those who do not have to be fast, those who can still peacefully take the time to search for information in their paper notebooks, those whom others are not dependent on regarding fast inputs or decision making so for those kinds of people and roles this old school paper note taking can still work and I do not mind if they stay like that forever. I really don't.

I am not a 100% technological geek myself, there are areas of life when I am a bit old school, e.g. I prefer reading paper books vs. electronic books but not due to the psychological studies on the advantages of paper books on long term memory (yes, I have read books and articles on this topic as well) just simply because I love the smell of paper books and I love the feeling of touching and turning paper pages - when I am relaxed and I'm reading for pleasure, when I have time to slowly digest information.

All I am asking from those of you who still prefer taking notes in their paper notebooks: please do not try to make fothers (who prefer doing it digital) feel embarrased or stupid and do not threaten them that their memory will weaken etc. etc. Even if this is the case, they may have a sound reason why they are doing it their own way. And if you do not like the new electronic notes feature on Coursera platform, just click on the relevant icon on the right hand side and hide it.

Live and let live. Please.