Geodesign: Change Your World MOOC: I think I’ll keep my world the same for now.

I was so excited to see that Penn State was offering another MOOC this year, this time about geodesign. It’s been on my watchlist for the past few months, so when I got the email to announce that class was starting, I immediately checked it out.

After my last Penn State MOOC though, I was a bit more wary this time around. A cursory glance down the left pane showed me what I was hoping I would not find:Geodesign_PeerAssessments

I half-heartedly went through the course content after that, but I had already decided not to carry on. The peer assessment assignment is 40% of the grade for the course. I’ve mentioned here before that peer assessments in a MOOC are a dealbreaker for me. I learn best on my own. I enjoy working as part of a team, but on my own as part of a team.

This week I started with the two other modules I need to get into Hons. The one is about software engineering principles, while the other is about advanced database development using an old version of Oracle (why, Unisa, why). I’m quite excited about the SQL one, as it will give me more opportunities to flex my SQL muscles, and to get exposure to a different database platform (something other than SQL Server).

Basically, even if I wanted to do this MOOC now, I can’t. Best of luck to the Geodesign students, and hopefully with the next offering, they will relax the peer assessment requirement.

SPD1x Systematic Program Design Part 1: Under consideration

I have been very excited by the courses offered by edX this year. I completed DAT201x recently, and am almost finished with Delft101x. Three edX MOOCs and and one Coursera MOOC I have been eyeing have all opened up this week. Since I now have two months without any UNISA modules, I figure I’m going all in on these.

When I go into a MOOC for the first time, I look around for my dealbreaker: peer assessments. Of course, when I opened up SPD1x, a MOOC I’ve really been looking forward to because it will give me a good foundation for an Honours module I will be taking, it did not surprise me to discover this:

The Final Project will draw from all the material you have learned throughout the course. It will be peer-assessed based on a rubric and assessment tutorial video that will be provided after the project is submitted. The Final Project makes up the final 30% of your grade.

However, because the premise is promising, and because there are two more parts to the course coming up, I will be hanging around for a while and going through the lecture material. I doubt that I will be completing the project though.

DEV203x Introduction to Bootstrap: Uh-oh

I was very excited to see that Microsoft is now offering MOOCs through edX. I immediately signed up for Introduction to Bootstrap and Transact-SQL. Bootstrap opened up on 1 April, so I spent some time getting the videos, downloading the notes and preparing my OneNote section for it.

I idly clicked over to the first lab, which looked promising – a detailed assignment, clearly designed to test the knowledge gained from the videos and notes, with clear submission rules. I then scrolled to the bottom and saw this:

Peer assessments

I’ve mentioned in several previous posts that peer assessments in a MOOC is a dealbreaker for me. I’ve changed my opinion somewhat on the use of video lectures (just barely though), but making peer assessments a requirement is a bit much for me.

While my need to finish what I’ve started is strong, I have many other things to do as well, so for this one I may be content to just grab the content for self-paced learning/reference at a later stage.

Logic Language and Information 1: Looked promising, but no.

I signed up for the MOOC Logic: Language and Information 1 from the University of Melbourne over at Coursera a while back. I’m planning on taking a module in logic when I start my Honours, so I started downloading the lecture videos and notes (excellent quality by the way).

I then started looking at the syllabus and grading. Oops – peer assessments. I’ve mentioned several times by now how I cannot stand the whole “let’s discuss this work we’re doing” approach to things.


So I stopped doing assignments for the GEOINT MOOC. I know I said a short while ago that I was really starting to enjoy the MOOC, purely for the reading notes structure, but that has been overwhelmed by my intense dislike for discussing stuff on the internet.

Maybe I should define what I mean by discussing stuff. I’m totally cool with discussing stuff in a Q&A type way – in fact, I owe alot to this type of interaction for why I am so comfortable with coding today.

I just don’t like the general “let’s all go crazy around this topic for an hour before we move onto the next one” type vibe that most discussion forums have. That’s personal preference. I have absolutely nothing against the course/lecturer/institution, it’s just that the format did not work for me. So I’ll be keeping my Notebook with the notes in from the course for future reference, but otherwise, I’m out.

Mic drop


I’ve really started enjoying this MOOC. As I mentioned last time, the text-based notes are very nice, and this week has shown they are getting even better. The definitions are clear and concise, and the concepts are explained very well.

The assignments haven’t really been assignments though. I like assignments where you answer a bunch of questions and get graded on the answers (MITx on edX is particularly good with that kind of structure). This is why I don’t really have much to say about this MOOC.

I liked the refresher on remote sensing that this week’s notes covered. At one point I was considering specialising in remote sensing, since I felt that GIS alone was not challenging me enough. It only took a few weeks into my first GIS job to realise that what I was taught at university about GIS was laughable.


Week 2 has been better than Week 1. I’m still not too happy about having to post in the discussion forums, purely because I’m not a discussion kind of person, but it is making me think about the topic at hand.

I am thoroughly enjoying the lecture setup, where the text based lessons take precedence over video lectures. I’ve said before that I do not enjoy video lectures at all, because that is not the way I learn.

Much like when I was in university, when I would skip most of the classes in favour of self-studying with notes, I tend to skip most of the video lectures with MOOCs and rather go through the slides instead.