Zombies Not Included

Khadija & Shaheer

(Editor's Note: The below article was written by Khadija & Shaheer, OSU MOOC students living in Pakistan)

Since we started taking interest in Physics, we came to realize that Classical Mechanics is not applicable in certain circumstances such as Black holes and quantum-level objects.  So to truly understand all these vast topics we needed to learn Calculus. 

Therefore we started browsing through coursera courses to find a calculus course. We found one course, "Calculus One by Jim Fowler" but unfortunately it was in its last weeks. Nevertheless we both decided to enroll in it just to have a peek at the video lectures, to our surprise the course was being taught in a very unconventional style. We instantly got hooked to it and even though the course was finished we completed two weeks on our own. 

Fortunately the course was being offered again. We kept counting days till its launch and then the day it was launched we just jumped in and started taking part in every discussion thread ever to be made. This time this course was offered by Bart Snapp along with Jim Fowler.

First video gave us an amazing surprise; it started with the Calculus song which was sung by none other than the amazing teacher Prof Bart. The song was amazing and it conveyed a really great message of enthusiasm in it. Unlike many other videos which start plain with an instructor saying hello. This groovy music got us into mood and gave us a positive feeling about math.

 Isn't it amazing to be dancing right before you get to do some tough calculus? 

The first lecture was about functions and when we saw how playful that example was, we knew that this was "love at first sight". The first example was about Bart's cat Roxie and it was amazing to see how he could explain everything so easily with everyday examples that you most probably would never see in a text book. 

Let us tell you about our love story with Calculus One. One of the most amazing things about this course was that the teacher was against zombies and he clearly expressed his distaste for zombies during a later video. Actually what we mean to say is that he would not stop moving in his lectures unlike others who sit like a zombie with an emotionless face staring at the camera, with an empty room behind. Our awesome professor used to bounce around and his background really gave the impression of being in a real classroom.  We could really relate ourselves with his teaching style, imagine someone talking to you with a background with nothing but emptiness, clearly his room where they shot videos was depicted otherwise. It is not easy to study in a null void. 

Of course being siblings, we both had many healthy competitions during this course. We always tried to be better than each other on the forums, get full marks in the least tries and also trying to do everything before each other. Winner takes all. 

The other most interesting feature of this course was the persistent involvement & interaction of the professors in the forum. They would comment on everything, regardless of the fact that it is funny or really related to the subject. This course really resembled a real classroom in every way we can think of. We were allowed to talk about anything under the sun and we were encouraged to learn new things while having fun. This was the first class which allowed us to socialize to the extreme; we made many new friends here and mostly interacted on the forums, helping each other out rather than on facebook. 

Another interesting & helpful feature was MOOCulus which consisted on exercises which would help us get ready for our homework. It had so many amazing exercises which really coincided with the lectures. The objective of MOOCulus was to make us understand the concepts of the week to such a level that we do all the questions quickly and correctly without making a single mistake. 

Week after week passed and we didn't even feel any pressure or any feeling that all that was being taught was hard. It actually got easier with each passing week. It was like only a day crossed and we were at our final exam. 

 This was the first course which really let us act our age, unlike other courses where we had to act composed and serious. On every goofy thread, Bart used to answer us and encourage us. Not one single moment in our course came where he discouraged us from being ourselves. Even one time Jim said, "I very much hope that the videos convey who we really are, at all times.". And that is what makes this course stand out from all other courses and even though the course has to come its end students are still looking at the forums helping others who are left behind. This course left us a very positive message and that was "Let's go do some more maths."

Khadija & Shaheer