Coursera And Peer Assessment

Coursera classes can range up to 100k students. While scoring multiple choice exams is trivial, how do they handle grading essays written by that many students?

Part One of an essay assignment in a Coursera class involves, not surprisingly, writing the essay. You have a week, or two at the most.

Part Two, which can count for nearly as much as the essay, is how the problem gets solved. You are directed to assess up to five of your peers. You also have a week to do this.

So you write, then you grade. Everyone’s essay gets four peer assessments. And you get to grade yourself. At the end of the two week period, your score on the assignment is the aggregate of your four peer grades and your self-assessment, with credit given for doing your assessments.

Assessments are to be done based on a rubric provided by the professor; assessments are not themselves assessed, at least not yet.

There’s been something of a stir about it in each of the classes I’ve taken. Someone gets a bad grade. They go on the forums. They make a stink. “Oh the unfairness of it all”, “Oh the TAs should do the grading”, “Oh we should have machines doing the grading”. Etc. And I can understand what they’re saying. Nobody likes to feel they’ve been cheated.

But here’s the thing:

Often in our lives we will be assessed. By the boss, the client, the prospect. By friends, acquaintances and lovers. Seldom will these assessments be made by someone fully qualified to make that assessment! There’s an inherent unfairness to it, but you know what? That’s part of the living experience. Dealing with an imperfect feedback system.

AKA Rolling with the punches.

Garden As A Bubble

What is a bubble?

Merriam-Webster says: a state of booming economic activity (as in a stock market) that often ends in a sudden collapse

Wikipedia says (about the dot-com bubble):
The dot-com bubble (also referred to as the Internet bubble and the Information Technology Bubble[1]) was a historic speculative bubble covering roughly 1995–2000 (with a climax on March 10, 2000, with the NASDAQ peaking at 5132.52 in intraday trading before closing at 5048.62) during which stock markets in industrialized nations saw their equity value rise rapidly from growth in the Internet sector and related fields. While the latter part was a boom and bust cycle, the Internet boom is sometimes meant to refer to the steady commercial growth of the Internet with the advent of the world wide web, as exemplified by the first release of the Mosaic web browser in 1993, and continuing through the 1990s.

264. Garden As A Bubble

Garden As Bubble

Unsustainable growth!
overfetilized, overwatered
Exploitative circumstances
A cruel mistress comes at us with a hoe!
The tomatoes and the peppers
can spend the winter rotting
pondering the excesses they enjoyed
under summer’s sun



Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.