I wonder how much longer these services are going to stay free. I like to download all the content just to be sure that it's not taken away when they eventually go to paid models.
I also download everything. I'd hate to want to reference a lecture later only to find it missing.
Last I heard, Coursera was still searching to find a revenue model. I've noticed their "resume" section expand, and you can now opt in (or is it out, by default?) to job hunter searches. Which makes me curious as to what Coursera's revenue-generating product is going to be. Is it the database of people with certified(-ish) skills, or will it be the content they provide?
I've been thinking that a viable model that would keep courses free might be to use a kickstarter crowdfunding model to launch a course offering. If I did it, I'd set it up so that the threshold was high enough to make sure that the course was profitable, then make the course available to contributors first (and they'd get certificates), after which it would be freely available to anybody who wants to take it. You'd have to work out how to do the advertising efficiently so that it didn't eat your time and profits, which is probably a huge problem with the idea. Personally, I'd happily contribute to something like that on a regular basis though.
Periodic relaunches could also be set up for certificate track stuff. You'd get the professor back in to answer questions and all that, but the video content could be left the same so it should be much less expensive to operate existing courses.
I bet the end goal (for all these MOOCS) is to become the de facto source for web based courses offered, for pay, through the current university system. You're right, they're also trying to become a recruitment tool for various industries, but they'll make the most money by switching on the revenue steam once universities become dependent on them and there's no turning back.
On the practical side, once you download the videos, I can heartily recommend the SwiftPlayer iOS app — it lets you vary the speed at which the videos play, which is very practical for lectures. I watch easier sections (or ones that I just want to repeat) at 1.5-2.0x, going down to 1.25x or 1.0x when things get tougher. Easy FF/RW in 10 or 30-second increments and bookmarking are very useful as well.
I got so used to SwiftPlayer that I can't bear to watch lecture videos in the web browser anymore.
Is this just me or do others really find video superior?
It's those "aha" moments where someone with a deep knowledge of the material clears up some misconception I've had for decades with a few sentences, or an off the cuff remark.
1) Join the HTML5 trial http://www.youtube.com/html5
2) Open Chrome inspector, select the <video> element
3) In the Chrome console, type $0.playbackRate = 2.0 ($0 refers to the element you've selected in the inspector)
This also works for other sites that use the HTML5 video element, and allows you to go faster than 2x if you prefer.
YouTube's HTML5 interface also has a menu option (gear icon) which has a speed control, but the Chrome inspector trick works with any HTML5 site.
I've noticed this before MOOCs, actually. Take web development tutorials, for instance. A few colleagues of mine loved video tutorials from (e.g) lynda.com; I found it utterly boring and inefficient.
The common one I've seen referenced is the VARK model: Visual, Auditory, Read/write, Kinetic. Though as that wiki page states, there are several other theories.
"...as a condition of accessing the Sites, you agree not to...(c) use any high-volume, automated or electronic means to access the Sites (including without limitation, robots, spiders, scripts or web-scraping tools)"
I was actually going to write such a script myself as an exercise (I'm new to programming), but this language dissuaded me.
EDIT: Could someone please explain to me why this simple statement of fact would be downvoted?
I can see clear ways to automatically exploit the website for the purpose of scraping their content. However, I have had a legitimate use for this in the past and, instead of just doing the smart automatic thing, I did it manually.
My take is this: for personal use, a low-volume, automated tool would not violate the spirit of online education. The presence of that clause is probably intended to protect against exploitative uses.
After posting my initial comment, I saw further down that HN user pamelafox is a former Coursera employee. I would love to know whether she or anyone else has insight into how Coursera views tools like this.
If DTA can't find the link to the content for some reason (it happened to me on youtube a while ago), you can use an addon like LiveHTTPHeaders to sniff HTTP requests and figure out the link for the video.
edit: I forgot to mention that DTA will lag the entire browser like hell and kill your battery, so only use it when plugged in. This happens on Windows + Linux, and idk about OSX.
Anyways, that's a great thing to be able to download simply.
Also, and more importantly, isn't it a bit strange that there needs to be tool like this at all? Is it still going on where Coursera pulls old course material off when the course is finished? If it is, can we have a discussion on that?
But it's not so convenient.
I'll have to try this in future.
curl $url_that_has_cookies -c -
That will save the cookies to stdout, and IIRC you can pipe them to curl. I've done similar stuff with wget along the lines of just saving the cookies and then loading them within a single command.
coursera-dl -u username -p password -d pathToLargeHD course_name
and only download pdf lecture notes to the smaller one
coursera-dl -u username -p password -d pathToSmallHD -n mp4,pptx course_name
I tried that over here, worked great.
Some schools prefer students don't download course materials. I succesfully downloaded Machine Learning and Algorithms courses from Stanford but could not download this one, it says "now downloadable content found":
Will keep probing, but if anybody has experienced something similar and has a handy solution, I'd greatly appreciate the tip! (And I'm sure the author would appreciate a PR)
but hey who needs that when there is
I wrote this thing in one evening because I prefer to watch these videos on a big screen. What surprised me was how popular this quick hack became. There were people using it to download videos and share them with others in countries that blocked YouTube. I think at its peak there were a few thousand installs.
Would "adult ed" students be willing to pay some nominal amount--say $25-$50 for a course? Probably yes in some cases but remember the pricing discussions that take place here all the time. Getting from free to paid (in any amount) is a big barrier to get people over.
Arguably the case would be different in certifications actually meant something. After all, people and their companies spend lots of $$ on various software certifications. But that's a whole other topic.
As for the pricing question, the price of a can of coca-cola isn't the same in the U.S. as it is in Sudan. Once these MOOCS establish a brand, it will be easy for them to adjusts their prices to maximize profits.
Another example, I live in the East European xUSSR country, where average School teacher's monthly wage is $200 (not a typo). But the prices of milk, meat, bread, MacDonald's, coca/pepsi, ... are the same or more, compared to e.g. Switzerland.
Last time I checked, the meat was more expensive here than in San Diego.
So not everything is adjusted by income (in case of my country, housing and renting can be stated as significantly cheaper than in Switzerland).
I genuinely wonder how they get by. (Especially with multiple family members to worry about.)
In the future, if you want people to be sure it's not a typo, you can just say the words "Two hundred dollars", then your meaning will be absolutely unambiguous.
Generally speaking, they don't. The teacher profession is treated as a hobby. Like they prefer to go to the School and teach rather than sitting a whole day at home (unemployment is the Big problem here, outside IT field). So you better have some other member of the family doing some other work.
People in such conditions (quite many), just buy less goodies. They don't have ipads/iphones, new cars or similar...