I discovered Coursera in late 2012 after retiring from my paid work. My husband had done Andrew Ng's Machine Learning course and, knowing my interest in Astronomy, thought I might like to look at Introduction to Astronomy (no longer available) in all my free retirement hours.
I enrolled and while waiting for the course to start, took Computers 101 (also no longer available), which I found very interesting.
When the Astronomy course started, I quickly realized I was way out of my depth. The mathematics and physics I had learned at school nearly 40 years earlier were too rusty and I was unwilling to spend my precious retirement hours brushing up on equations and complex calculations. After struggling through the first week's quiz and giving up on the second one, I spent the rest of the course watching some of the lectures and taking the interesting parts on board. I ignored the rest.
Soon, though, I discovered courses that suited me better. Nutrition, Think Again: How to Reason and Argue (much to my husband's amusement) and various other biology topics. Later I branched out to courses on writing and discovered the science behind climate change. And, after dropping a second astronomy course, I finally hit upon The Science of the Solar System, which was both riveting and challenging. Finally, I managed to pass an astronomy course!
A watershed moment was discovering the Learning How to Learn course. I'm a huge fan, and have recommended it to people time and time again.
So, how has my Coursera learning turned out differently from how I expected? I expected to learn astronomy. I have learned some astronomy, but have also learned much more. I have started a blog about online learning. I have even landed a part-time paid job in the online learning field.
Have you joined Coursera expecting to do a particular course or improve your knowledge in a certain field, only to discover your path lies elsewhere? I would love to hear your story!