Learning about audio and electronics with Coursera

I’ve recently revived my college punk band and discovered some interesting things such as: I can’t play any more, I look really old, jumping around with a guitar looks silly if you can’t actually get off the ground. But I also found that it’s pretty difficult to set up a PA so that it doesn’t feedback constantly unless

    a. the singer is in another room or
    b. somebody gives the drummer a powerful sedative.

Why is this? How come the band down the pub doesn’t have this problem? I decided to find out. Obviously I couldn’t take the simple route of asking the band down the pub, oh no, I was going to do an online course.

I am a learning technologist, thus any online study serves more than one purpose. With a single stone I kill two birds:

    find out how to set up audio equipment properly and
    critically appraise somebody else’s course (what fun!) and build an amp.

Three birds in fact, which just proves what a good idea this is.

I’ve studied with Coursera before, and even completed one course. In my experience, what works well with Coursera is that they have some fairly undemanding content which is well supported by videos and text and then use MCQs as a way for you to check your learning. This is supported by discussion boards, but so far I have found these unusable. As Stephen Downes says, “numbers change everything” – several thousand people on the same discussion board leads to a kind of solipsistic chaos, and where students use pseudonyms, some pretty unpleasant trolling. I’m keen to see if Coursera have found any tricks to fix this problem, surely they’ve been working hard to make student to student interaction more reliable and useful?

Well, we’ll see…

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