Impressions from the first Coursera conference

April 6, 2013, [MD]

This weekend, I attended the inaugural Coursera Partner's Conference at UPenn in Philadelphia. I attended both as a PhD student with an interest in MOOCs, open learning, and flipped classrooms, and as an institutional researcher for Open.UToronto, supporting internal evaluation of the UofT Coursera MOOCs.

Overlap with existing groups

I was delighted to see a bit of overlap with two other groups that I am part of. Gary Matkin and Larry Cooperman from UCI, José Escamilla from Tecnológico de Monterrey and Sukon Kanchanaraksa from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health are all old friends from the Open CourseWare Consortium, and it was great to catch up with them. Pierre Dillenbourg from EPFL is a well-known researcher in computer-supported collaborative learning, and I am really happy to see others from my academic field getting involved with research on MOOCs.

Otherwise, institutional support personell (from provosts and deans to instructional designers and offices of teaching and learning) seemed to be heavily represented, with only some professors who have actually taught Coursera courses present. There were also a few institutions represented who are still considering joining Coursera.


The sessions ranged from the initial sold-out Silfen forum with people like Thomas Friedman and Martha Kanter, to much more specific panels on flipped classrooms, learning analytics, inter-school collaboration, etc. (Full program)

I took extensive notes from two sessions, one on flipped classrooms and one on learning from data, both were really interesting and I will probably be in touch with some of the people on both panels to follow up. (It was also a great opportunity to use my iPhone/Researchr integration).

It was also fun to meet the very young, smart and energetic Coursera team. It's truly impressive what they have managed to create in a year (launched April 2012), and I'm very excited to see what they, and others (EdX, Udacity, etc) will come up with. Hopefully in the future, we will have a conference where people can meet across "divisions", from all these different platforms. There are initiatives at educational research meetings, such as MOOCshop, but normal faculty and instructional designers etc are not likely to attend those.

Stian Håklev April 6, 2013 Philadelphia, USA
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