Writing is not only a duty for the students in humanities and social science majors, students in sciences at different levels all face the challenge of good writing. As a librarian in a science and engineering library, I often receive questions on this matter. A hands-on course with quality examples and practice may address this need.
Starting tomorrow, Sep 24th 2012, Kristin Sainani, a professor at Stanford University and also a health and science writer, will offer an online open access course on Coursera, Writing in the Sciences. As the introduction says, “this is a hands-on course that focuses on examples and practice. In the first four weeks, we will review principles of effective writing, examples of good and bad writing, and tips for making the writing process easier. In the second four weeks, we will examine issues specific to scientific writing.” Read more at Writing in the Sciences.
Coursera recently announced that it had signed on with more than a dozen major educational institutions worldwide, including U of T, the only university from Canada. Coursera was created by two computer science professors at Stanford University earlier this year. The plan of Coursera is “to partner with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free”. The creators “envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions.”
The courses on Coursera contain lectures, forums, quizzes, assignments, and exams. The students will be able to join online discussion with classmates everywhere on the earth, submit their assignments, and get grades for free. Coursera has now 111 courses available which are categorized in Biology & Life Sciences, Business & Management, Computer Science, Engineering, Sciences, etc. Below is an example of a Coursera course, Software Engineering for SaaS, which is currently offered by Fox and Patterson, professors from UC Berkeley.
Other than Coursera, edX and Udacity are also known for offering MOOCs. The most influential MOOC so far is Stanford University’s computer science professor, Sebastian Thrun’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence which drew more than 160,000 students who eventually received detailed grades and a class ranking.