Teaching an old professor new tricks…

I’m taking a class this semester through Coursera.org (http://coursera.org), one of the growing number of university partnerships to offer massively online, open, free college-level courses to anyone, anywhere.

The course I’m taking is Gamification – applying game elements to non-game situations. In my case, I’m interested in finding new ways to make computer science more engaging, and I want to learn how to add some elements of fun, a sense of achievement, and some social components to computer programming at North Georgia.

Coursera Gamification Course Online

Gamification course in Coursera, one of the massively open online course platforms with over a dozen universities participating and tens of thousands of students taking courses.

I’m impressed with the quality of the course from several perspectives. First, Prof. Kevin Werbach from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business knows his topic, and teaches it with enthusiasm and authority. Second, the quality of the lecture videos, online assignments, even the web site itself  [https://class.coursera.org/gamification-2012-001/class/index] is outstanding, compared even to the course management systems we have available in the university system currently (Desire2Learn is about to improve that in January).

Of course, it’s impressive that I’m taking this course along with tens of thousands of people – massive open online courses (or MOOCs as they’re becoming called) do have a place in education, especially well-executed ones like Professor Werbach’s (Twitter: @kwerb).

Will this take the place of traditional classroom learning? I believe it will for some folks, especially for special interest topics like this one – there simply aren’t any Gamification courses being taught at college campuses in the state of Georgia, and it’s free to take the Coursera course, so it was an easy choice for me.

The course is challenging – even though the videos are in short segments, very well-done and interesting, it still takes a couple of hours a week to watch the course, do the homework, and a few more hours to read all the associated materials. It’s engaging enough, though, that it feels a bit like being back in college. And for an old professor like me, that’s a good feeling.



About Bryson Payne

Author of Teach Your Kids to Code, Speaker, and Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Georgia.

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