My Coursera Experience

The Nutrition for Health Prevention Course I took ended last week. Here are my thoughts…

The video lectures were of great quality. The site was easy to navigate and materials easy to access. I like that videos and PowerPoints are downloadable. The work load was manageable, even though I ended up spending more like 4 – 6 hours instead of the 2 -4 hours stated in the course description.

Assessments are two-fold: weekly quizzes and peer-assessed assignments. The weekly quizzes are factual recall and required me to look through my notes from video lectures to answer the questions. The assignments were more applicable: track nutrition and food eaten over a 24 hour period, create a daily meal plan for some one with diabetes, and make a dish that is significant in a culture – analyze its health benefits.

It was definitely a different way to learn. However, it did remind me a bit of the large courses I took in college. Instruction was information-heavy and teacher-lead. It was hard to ask questions to the professor directly – you either have to attend office hours or see a TA. In the Coursera case, although the forum offers a way to bridge a gap between instructor and students, I found it very difficult to navigate through the plethora of forum posts. I would search for a topic that I had a question on, then peruse the comments in the thread. I did not feel comfortable or had the time to post regularly to the discussion forum.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I had been exposed to the content before through my undergraduate and graduate work. It was nice to hear recent research done in the field. Also, it motivates me to continue to be mindful about my eating habits and to make healthy choices.

First day with MOOC

When I found out that we would have to register/follow a MOOC for 6 weeks, I was flabbergasted as to how I will be able to fit it all into my already super busy schedule. I have heard a lot of MOOC in the news and from my husband who is currently taking his 3rd MOOC course. I was blown away when I watched Daphne Koller’s TED talk a few months ago on how online education is changing the paradigm for access to higher education. After I got over the fact that I have to do this assignment and just have to make time for it, I began browsing the Coursera website for a class that I could take.

I’ve been thinking for awhile about taking a computer programming class. But the reality is, I don’t think I can commit to the time to really learn it this semester with teaching and finishing up my masters thesis project. Then stumbled on The Science of Gastronomy, which sounds amazing. I love to cook and it would be neat to learn more about food science – but it’s not offered now. Hence, I decided on taking Nutrition for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  Personally, I’ve been struggling to the excess 30 lbs I’ve gained since I’ve had 2 children 7 years ago. I’ve tried dieting and exercising, but I’ve learned that I need to learn to eat healthier! So I’m hoping that this class with help me learn about proper nutrition while encouraging me to lead a path towards a healthier lifestyle. The other reason for taking this class is I hope I can glean information that I would be able to share with my students in Anatomy and Physiology. We spend a lot of time discussion different body systems, particularly the cardiovascular system and digestive system. And studies have shown that nutrition is heavily linked to the wellness and smooth operations of these body systems.

Today being the first day of the course, I started watching the video lectures (10 per week!). Luckily, I had a chunk of time today, so I plowed through the first 5. My initial reactions are:

  • Course is well organized and structured.
  • The video lectures are really well made – Prof speaks clearly, slides are informative but not too information heavy.

It looks like hundreds of people from all over the world have registered for the course from the Introduction posts on the discussion forum. It doesn’t seem as if I will interact with many or get to know any at all if I don’t participate in the discussion forum.

So far, most of the info presented from the lectures are review for me as I have taken 2 course in biochemistry in college, and I have taught Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy/Physiology. The assignments for the week is to take a quiz (based on the lectures), keep track of my caloric intake and physical activities for one day using Super Tracker (by USDA), and analyze my report looking at specific data. This seems doable for this week. I imagine that it’ll get much harder as time progress. I hope I am able to keep up!