I am glad that Coursera is willing to introduce fixes into an ongoing class! Today I noticed that there is an automated announcement on the course homepage to alert people to upcoming deadlines, which is not something we had before:
And there is also now an honor code declaration that we mark when we turn in our writing:
I still think that they need some actual plagiarism resources online to help people who are truly not clear on the difference between plagiarism (either verbatim or "patchwork") and original writing - but at least this is a first step in the right direction!
Update: There is now also a way to flag "inappropriate" content in the forums, but there is no definition of just what is inappropriate content. For example, there is currently a very active discussion thread which consists of making fun of other people in the class - making fun of people with poor English skills, making fun of people who ask questions about the assignments... and yes, people do ask obvious questions sometimes - it would be surprising if they did not! Of course, almost all of the postings in this thread are by the "anonymi" (who knows how many of them there are; there is no way of telling one anonymous from another). I'm not going to say it is something to flag as inappropriate, but there is a lot of sheer mean-spiritedness at the discussion forums for this class, something that came as a real surprise to me. I wonder if that is true at all the Coursera courses.
Tomorrow we will get our fourth batch of essays to review. I hope there will be a flag available there now too, or a zero score option, for essays that are blank, spam, for the wrong novel, etc.
Most importantly, I wonder if there will be a flag for inappropriate feedback. There is plenty of mean-spiritedness, even viciousness, in some of the feedback people have shared at the discussion board... and the feedback is all anonymous, which I increasingly think just does not bring out the best in people. Between the rudeness in the anonymous feedback and the rudeness in the anonymous posting at the discussion board, I am not impressed. Pseudonyms are fine with me - but all this anonymous meanness is really troubling.