My Coursera Experience: Day One


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?



9 thoughts on “My Coursera Experience: Day One

  1. I’m so excited that you are taking this course. I too have signed up for a free online course, but I’m taking it through Udacity. It’s an entrepreneurship course that starts next Monday. I think it will greatly enhance my final month of courses at Full Sail. In fact, before deciding on my masters degree program, I plan to try an assortment of courses through Coursera and Udacity. Your course sounds fabulous. Enjoy it.

  2. Thanks for the little review Alex. I’m also taking ModPo and loving it (day 3). Three Dickinson poems (doing one a day: reading, watching video, and putting up a few paragraphs of commentary) and my whole perception of her has changed. Enjoying doing such a close reading. Might be a little less close when we get to the longer poems of Whitman tomorrow.

    • Hey Magdalena! It’s nice to “meet” a fellow ModPo classmate. Which Dickinson poem did you enjoy studying the most? I haven’t started Whitman yet… Hoping to begin that this evening. So glad you reached out! Alex

      • I’ve just started Whitman too (there’s a lot!). I think my favourite Dickinson is “The Brain, within its Groove”, especially with the interpretation that the Kelly House team gave it around the power and impact of the digressive mind. I definitely got the feeling the poems became progressively more complex and rich (though I liked them all – and never have before).

  3. Just thought I would put my two cents in. I’m subscribed to Al’s Facebook feed and found your article. It excites me so much that education like this is free and available! When you watch the videos of him and his students, its like the epitome of a great discussion and education. Extremely grateful to be a part of ModPo and I feel my brain growing right now! Hope it’s going well for you. Just beginning to delve into Whitman!

    • Hey Tyler! Thank you for your comment. I completely agree and really enjoyed this week’s study of Dickinson and Whitman. Let me know how you feel about “Song of Myself” after reading it! I will look for you on the ModPo discussion forums. Alex

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