Everyone Wants To Learn To Code, Few Actually Do

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the Coursera Software as a Service course to learn the full Agile Development process with Ruby on Rails. Although I was really excited about the course, I ended up tied up with work and couldn’t dedicate the time needed to do this course (I know, lame excuse!!!). I WILL learn Ruby on Rails though, I have another plan to make sure I learn it, but more on that later.

Anyway, I was not the only one who wanted to take the course. I got an email before the course even started with the following message:

“As this will be just the 5th online course ever with 60,000+ students, we are likely to run into some issues that we hadn’t planned for. We’re working hard so that you can have a good learning experience, but let us apologize in advance for any problems that occur.”

The course had over 60,000 sign ups!

Today, I got the last email from the course, which ended, with the following stats:

“Here are the stats of this MOOC:
· ~ 20,000 students watched at least one video
· ~ 10,000 students attempted at least one assignment or quiz
· ~ 3,500 students will receive a Statement of Accomplishment”

Well, at least I was one of the 20,000 of the original 60,000 who watched the first video. But it’s crazy to see that out of the 60,000 people who were interested in learning this material, only 3,500 actually finished. That’s about 6% of people who originally registered!

Actually, to be honest, I’m not surprised based on my personal experience. When I first started to learn to code, I started a 45 person study group of other people who wanted to learn with me. Of the whole group, only 2 of us actually went through the Stanford CS106A course (that’s 4.4%), so Coursera is actually doing pretty well. And just like with Coursera, most people in my group dropped off at the downloading software part and only a few actually tried doing the first assignment.

I was actually talking to a friend the other day, and she had the idea of charging for an online course and then returning the tuition if the student actually finishes the course. In this case, she would keep most of the tuition!

Anyway, just wanted to point out how steep the drop-off is for free online courses. It’s just too easy to quit.

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  • DM

    I went with it to the finish.
    all that convention over configuration is… bizarre to me, still will be until I sit down and read over all the details of what that entails.

    the TDD concept is a win… I had never before bothered with such. After this course I made my first use of JUnit to test java code.

    • Congratulations!!! It’s great that you were one of the very few who finished 🙂 What did you think about the course? Did you like it? It sounds like you’re still confused about some stuff? Would love to hear about your experience.

      • DM

        Well. Depends on what one expected to get when coming in.
        If the goal was to learn ruby, the goal was probably not reached, if the goal was to learn ruby on rails, the goal was most likely not reached — not with the limited scope of the assignments.

        I do think that was /not/ the goal however.

        This version of the course, which I assume is only ‘part 1’, since they speak about a ‘part 2’ course for later, does manage to give some insight on real life software development discipline.

        Agile, TDD, BDD in general.

        What I liked:
        – TDD… definitely a must-know concept.
        – The idea of ‘RESTful-ness’ (ie. on web links) is an interesting one; the formal concept of which, I was previously lacking.

        What I didn’t like:
        – It was easy. seriously.
        – It was lacking any mention of a lot of the boilerplate steps needed for rails apps. (I had to hit Google with a hammer ’till it gave me the answers…).

        …I should really be making this a blog post instead of a comment post, heh

      • Please do write a blog post on this!!! I was expecting to learn Ruby on Rails, so too bad the class doesn’t accomplish this. I haven’t found a really good RoR class online except for just Googling around. That’s too bad.

  • I had a similar problem (my day job) and could not keep up with the course, as you rightly said (a lame excuse!!!). Though I was able to watch upto a few videos and lectures and couple of quizzes. Also I think you can always download the videos, ppts, assignments etc and learn, practice by yourselves. 🙂

    • Yeah, I logged in and everything is there, so I’ll make sure to get around to it or figure out another way to learn!

      • The best way would be to pick up (or even create a new one) a small project or a task in Ruby/Rails and keep experimenting on it, thats how I prefer to dig in. 🙂

      • DM

        You should consider downloading the available content for later use, since the content may not be available later. … ( i did that for one of the other courses on coursera, the NLP one).

      • DM, thanks for the tip! I much preferred the Stanford CS106A course, since I could go at my own pace and access the content any time. I really hope Coursera keeps the content up.

  • Hey, just found your blog while searching for solutions for an cs106a assignment.
    I really like your writing style — read this and the Instagram post. Great job on being succinct and informative!