Over the past year, Coursera has offered courses in two different formats: self-paced (no start or end date) and flexible session-based (regular sessions that begin and end on specific days). On August 15th, we’ll be updating all courses to use the flexible session-based format.
The session-based format offers much of the same flexibility of a self-paced course. The biggest difference is the community – in a session-based course, you’re part of a smaller peer group working on the same schedule, so you can share ideas, discuss assignments, and motivate each other. You’ll see suggested due dates in session-based courses, but there are no grade penalties for missing a due date. If you fall too far behind or need additional time to complete the course after your session ends, you can move into a later session, and your work will automatically transfer with you.
We’re switching to this session-based format based on our observations of various course structures that we’ve tested over the past two years. Compared to learners in self-paced courses, learners enrolled in session-based courses are about 40% more likely to post in discussion forums, receive feedback on peer-graded assignments about 33% faster, and are about 60% more likely to complete the course – we’re making this change in order to offer those benefits to all learners.
If you’re currently enrolled in a self-paced course, you’ll see some changes between August 15th and September 19th as we make this transition. Here’s what you can expect:
1. Your course progress and assignment grades won’t be affected by the switch from self-paced to session-based format, so you’ll be able to continue in the course where you left off. Any posts you’ve made in forums will also be saved.
2. When you visit your course, you’ll see that you’re enrolled in a specific session with a start and end date. You’ll also see suggested due dates to help you complete the course by the session end date.
3. There is no penalty for missing due dates, but we do suggest submitting assignments on time so that you keep up with your peers. If you submit a peer-graded assignment too far past the due date, you may need to switch sessions in order to get reviewed by your peers.
4. You’ll receive due date reminders via email. If you want to stop receiving reminders, you can turn them off by unchecking “Reminders” for any or all of your courses in the “Email Preferences” section of your Account Settings.
If you have more questions about how sessions work, please visit our Learner Help Center. We’ll be continuing to improve the session-based format in the coming months, and we look forward to bringing you an even better learning experience on Coursera.1