I stayed up until midnight last night to prepare for the first day of my first Coursera class: Modern and Contemporary American Poetry with Al Filreis, a Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. After researching Coursera and watching co-founder Daphne Koller’s TED Talk, I became very excited about learning poetry with nearly 30,000 other students from around the world. Free higher education offered online certainly changes the way we view college, doesn’t it?
Filreis is known for his love of poetry but also for his love of technology in the classroom. His online course is well-developed and certainly shows off his love for both. Today, I watched an introductory video, read over several discussion forums, and did the usual syllabus and course at a glance check… carefully writing due dates and deadlines into my planner, of course. I’ll tell you this: Filreis has really created an amazing online experience. Not only will I learn a lot about poetry for the next 10 weeks, but I will learn so much about how to be a better online educator by taking his class.
His first 20 minute video was like the first day of class. It was professionally filmed and included a bit of personal information about him, basic course information, and video of a roundtable with the TAs. Each TA introduced his or her favorite poem that we’d be studying in the class. The roundtable ended with Filreis explaining how we would approach poetry in the course. I was overall impressed with my first day, and I set aside a big chunk of time on Wednesday to begin my reading, writing, and analysis.
Have you heard of Coursera? Do you plan to take any free higher education classes online?