Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python" MOOC sets the bar for future education

Coursera's "An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python" by Rice university received an overwhelming students' feedback: 900+ reviews in 3 days, and highest possible rating!

Why did this course stand out? Well, looks like all credits go to fantastic four:

Joe Warren

Scott Rixner

Stephen Wong

John Greiner

 They are sincere, entertaining, and caring teachers:
"The professors are sincere, amusing, imminently watchable and kept me interested through the entire 8 week course. Bravo!"
" The competency, enthusiasm, and earnestness of the professors offering this free course are incredible, and really motivated me to continue even when I felt like giving up. The final project in particular, for which the professors went to especially great lengths in getting art and sound assets, was well worth the trip."
"Really excellent teaching. Very useful material. Instructors obviously care about teaching and love their subject. Unlike some other MOOCs, they monitored forums and responded to students' concerns."
"Rixner, Warren, Greiner, and Wong made you feel as though you were right in their offices   and they were giving you personal instruction. I can not thank them enough and I consider them the new Rock Stars of online learning. The success of this course reflects positively on them and Rice University and I am personally looking forward to their next course. Thank you guys!"
 who put a lot of effort into creating high-quality course:
"The quality of the class has been excellent. The material and the manner in which the class has been taught shows the amount of effort the professors have invested in putting it together. Not only in putting the videos together, but in the structure of the material and it's presentation." 
"Great class, particularly the interactive tool Scott Rixner developed at . The professors defined fun and challenging projects that directly utilized class lecture topics." 
"the lecture videos, the unit quizzes, the project templates, and the CodeSkulptor documentation were all brilliant, and helped ensure my success at every step."
" Lectures were interesting and well done. Course material was released on time, every week. Coding interface (CodeSkulptor) was very good, and allowed for a lot of flexibility."
 "The format of video lectures, quizzes and projects was excellent. The relaxed and friendly nature of the lecturers was very conducive to learning. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to learn to code."
"What made this class was the whole package: the lectures, the quizzes, the development tools, and the forums. The instructors made the course fun and challenging, but kept the pressure on. The tools were fantastic: there were no major technical problems that I was aware of. I don't know how much of the infrastructure was provided by Coursera and how much by Rice, but it was seamless. The forums worked incredibly well. They helped people think through problems and gave them a nudge to get them over tough areas. They also provided a methodology for addressing development projects, which was done subtly but continuously."
made learning fun:
"Every time we had meetup where we were coding mini projects was always fun because there was always new thing to learn and discover!"
 "I think it was impressive how the professors took a subject that can be boring to beginners and did their BEST to make it fun and interactive. I really enjoyed the mini-projects. Teaching programming through video-game design is an AWESOME idea! I had lots of fun creating the games and I really got a sense of accomplishment having completed the course. This was my first time actively programming video games, and using OOP and the professors made it lost of fun!"
"Had a great time doing this class. Lectures were very informative and surprisingly funny (the showdowns between Joe and Scott were definitely worth the class alone), and the mini-projects were both challenging and fun at the same time."
"All through working on the last two projects, I found myself laughing out loud just at how much the class had taught me to do, and how much fun it had become. It's been fantastic." 
 taught students to respect each other and built a strong learning community:
"With 40,000+ students taking the course, peer assessment was definitely the way to go for the grading. The professors put together a grading rubric for every project that was comprehensive enough and worded just right. Each peer then graded, at a minimum, five other students' programs based upon the rubric's questions."  
"I took this class from beginning to end. There was enormous diversity in the student body in terms of language and culture, never mind math and programming knowledge. It taught students to be sensitive in respect of their fellows on the forums and grading."
" there was a great community of  students, communicating in the forums, helping each other"
"The professors/TAs and even the more advanced students in the community really do care a lot about this class and the material. There is a lot of help, 1o1 attention, group ideas, etc aside from the lectures."
"The peer evaluation and the forum discussions created a class community which provided even more help in the learning process ."
 engaged students and led them through the challenges:
"This class has been amazing. It took some time and hard work, but I had absolutely no programming experience before I took this class. I can't believe how much I've learned and what I can do now."
 "Clear explanations and step-by-step guides that really teach you how to program from start to finish."
"On the more difficult homeworks, Professor Joe Warren went out of his way to help me iron out a few bugs that enabled me to complete very satisfying games such as Blackjack and Asteroids."
"Fantastic class. Time consuming but the completion of the projects each week is very rewarding. The projects are challenging, yet they walk you though step-by-step, which keeps it from being overwhelming."
 gave sense of accomplishment:
"Two months ago I knew nothing about Python or about programming. Today I'm planning games and modifications of games"
"The weekly mini projects give a great sense of accomplishment as you have a working game at the end to show for your hard work. By the end of the course i feel i have a more then firm basis from which to start learning new python code by myself "
 "At the end of 8 weeks, there is no substitute to the feeling of achievement when you have a spaceship zooming around your very own game, blowing up asteroids."
 "Each of the mini-projects was a challenge, and it felt wonderful to hit that "Submit" button with a working version of every game throughout the course."
"This class was really fun because it incorporated game development into a basic programming class. It covered a lot in such a short time besides programming basics, such as graphical user interface programming and object oriented programming. Though challenging, the programming projects were not impossible to do because a nice template was provided as a starting point, and step by step instructions to accomplish the tasks were provided. The end result of the projects were fun games that you could actually play!"
 "The projects that you do not only teaches you go to program in Python but also gives you something visual and interactive that you can share and gives you a sense of accomplishment. You can see the practical application and it's not just theories or vague snippets of code that you must write, which is how I was taught mostly during school and university. This is a great and refreshing change, I haven't been this excited about programming in a long time!"
"this is one of the projects at the end of the class that I did."
" Week 6 BlackJack: 
 Weeks 7&8 RiceRocks:"
made students want to come back:
"This is the first weekend after the class is over and there are no more videos and I kinda feel sad. It was like one of those things which you would never want to end but alas everything ends. Thank you professors, hats off to your hard work and I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
 "I am going to miss this wonderful eco-system of teachers and friends."
"This course became a part of my weekly routine (*ahem* frantic Friday nights finishing up projects) and I really will miss it. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this amazing course."
"I asked Prof. Warren to strongly consider offering follow-up MOOCs. and was encouraged to hear that Rice University probably will. If so, I hope - and believe - they will continue in the tradition of this marvelous class."
 "It was my first coursera course, and all i can say is i'll repeat any course that these teachers give (if they give us the chance to do it)."
" I am really sad that the course is over, but looking for future opportunities to attend Joe and Scott's online free classes"
" If there is gonna be a follow up course, I'm in!"

set the bar for future education:
"I have had computer programming classes in the past in college, but this free course did the best job in teaching me proper programming techniques and concepts. Due to the peer review system, I had more detailed feedback and grading than I ever had in undergrad (where they just run your code through a program and check the output line-by-line). Thank you for offering this course and re-sparking my programming creativity."
"So far I have attended many online classes, but this one is the best course ever! Special thanks go to fantastic four. Guys! That was great!"
 "The framework at Coursera adds to the effect and in the end, makes possible a better learning environment than the classroom itself. This class changed my mind about online education.
 I think this sets a great bar for any MOOC class trying to teach such a wide range of students." 
"I have a MSc in Computer Science long time ago and I think this is the best CS course I have ever taken. Not to mention that it is Free!I used to believe that there is no Free Lunch, but now I believe there are real Free Courses!"
 "Excellent, excellent class! I've taken quite a number of classes and this was the best by far!"
 "Absolutely the best class in person or online that I have taken!" 
"Best class ever! Joyful, funny, very interesting, challenging and fulfilling class! Everyone should take this! The teaching team is superb and i highly recommend anyone remotely interested in learning a bit of python or game programming to try this course! It is an experience i won't forget!"
and made educators think about getting up to this level:
"As a teacher I was pleasantly surprised to see how much thought the authors put into designing the course. Even when you are not interested in Python but want to know how to design this type of courses it would be wise to have a good look at this example. In short: you learn Python and have fun, and it is an excellent example of MOOC teaching"
"I am a physics professor and a college Dean. I took this class to learn more about online classes and how they can be used to reach large audiences. Yes, we can always learn how to do things better, but I will say that these professors are some of the best instructors out there. The course was very well planned and delivered with style. Now I need to figure out how to get all of my instructors up to this level:-) Great job!"
To see reviews for this class go to
The course will be offered again starting March 24th 2014