I have just peer reviewed the week 1 essays from six of my fellow students on the Coursera / Penn University course Listening To World Music. They were rather a mixed bag.
One essay stood above the others, the student has phrased his/her essay in academic language, the question had been thought about and looked at from two differing angles and it read through as one coherent whole. Another essay was pretty good, asked to comment on positionality and emotion within music the student chose the original song, and then three cover versions of the same to illustrate his point, clever thinking. The other four were hard going though, at least two seemed to understand only basic English, not one used any basic academic conventions and at least one seemed to be answering a different question. Or perhaps even a question from a different course.
This is where I feared the Coursera project might begin to fall down. I am going to be quite happy if the first two students read and score my essay, they have a good grip of what the course entails and understood the questions clearly. Judging by the standard of the other four essays, I wouldn't want any of them marking my work as they appear to have little or no idea of what is going on. Asking them to give scores based on academic conventions and whether or not the arguments are convincing and nuanced just won't be possible as they do not seem to understand these terms.
Fingers crossed then. I think I have written a decent first essay, not as well argued as my Open University work, but then it is a free course without a recognised qualification so I am not spending the research time on this that I would with the OU. I am the only person I have seen so far who has presented references and a bibliography, the OU have drummed that into me over the last year.
Week one scores will be out tomorrow, I have a very busy weekend next week so I'm unsure if I can manage to whole essay and peer reviewing business. It may depend on whether next week's questions really pique my interest.
Over in OU world, our collaborative wiki is coming on well, and I have made a start on next month's essay question - "To what extent has tourism transformed the meaning of religious objects?"