On March 11, one of Duke’s first Coursera courses, “Think Again: How to Reason and Argue“, wrapped up after twelve weeks. The course was taught by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, and Ram Neta Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The course taught students how to understand, assess, and construct arguments.
A full report on the first run of the course is being prepared and will be posted soon. Here is a quick overview of some statistics and notes from the course.
- When “Think Again” started in November 2012, it had the largest enrollment of any Coursera course offered up to that point, with 226,652 students signing up.
- More than 132,000 unique students accessed at least one video during the course, with the number of unique students watching lectures in a single week peaking at almost 128,000 students. Viewing of the videos varied through the course as it progressed with between 43,806 and 62,403 students watching the video lectures in week two, between 15,176 and 16,068 watching lectures in week nine, and between 2,800 and 3,000 watching the lectures in week twelve.
- An average of approximately 5,000 students watched each of the lectures. Over 2,400,000 streaming and nearly 1,850,000 video downloads were recorded in the course.
- Over 9,300 participants in the course created almost 28,800 posts almost 5,000 threads in the course forums.
- During the course, 70 homework quizzes, each associated with a particular lecture video, were offered for student practice. A total of 81,169 of the students attempted these homework exercises. In the first two weeks of the course, 22,528 to 78,369 students attempted each of the homework exercises. In the last week of the course, between 4,567 and 5,202 students attempted the homework exercises.
- There were four graded quizzes in the course, each offered in multiple parts. The first quiz was attempted by 16,721 students and the last was attempted by 5,675. After the first four weeks of the twelve week course, an average of 3,243 students took each of the three remaining graded quizzes.
- At the end of the course 2,274 students earned the minimum grade to receive a Statement of Accomplishment in the course. Another 3,048 met the requirements to receive the more rigorous Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction.
There were several Facebook groups that students set up for the course.
- Think Again: How to Reason and Argue – 1,501 members
- Think Again: How to Reason and Argue (2nd group) – 317 members
- Think Again (Closed Group) – 131 members
- Think Again – Indonesia Group – 52 members
- Think Again – Vietnamese Group – 19 members
- Think Again – Spanish Speaking Group – 14 members
In the last few weeks of the course, Walter and Ram invited students to post a text or YouTube video-based argument to the forums and asked the students to vote on the posts. During the last week of the course, Walter and Ram took the best posts and created video lectures analyzing the arguments. A total of 533 posts were submitted by the students and twelve were chosen by the instructors for analysis in the lectures.
During the summer, Walter and Ram will be revising videos, practice exercises and quizzes in “Think Again” with a new offering of the course in Coursera in Fall 2013. Walter, who teaches the same course at Duke, plans to “flip” his classroom by using the videos and other resources created for the Coursera version.
Randy A. Riddle consults with faculty in the Humanities and Social Sciences on integrating technology into teaching. He has been a CIT consultant since 2000. His professional interests include e-learning, social networking, online productivity tools, video and multimedia, and visualization. Randy's current work includes management of the CIT's Faculty Fellows program, consulting on Coursera course design and exploring areas such as e-textbook authoring. His other interests outside of work include restoration of vintage recording formats and broadcasting and film history. He volunteers for the Old Time Radio Researchers Group and maintains an ongoing blog on radio history research.
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