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[Events] Want to help 50, 000 beginning Python programmers? Coursera Community TAs

Jessica McKellar jessica.mckellar at
Wed Oct 10 13:55:11 UTC 2012

Hi folks,

Thanks to an intro from Lynn Root, I've been talking with Coursera
about ways the PSF can get involved with Coursera's massive online
learning initiative. One thing they are trying out this semester is
engaging folks from programming language communities as course
helpers. The first course with Community TAs will be:

The generic deal is that you can sign up to be a Community TA, which
commits you to 2 hours of helping people in the forums per week.

In exchange, you get to see how Coursera classes work at scale from
the inside and, if you want, develop new content including recording
videos for the class, experiment with new learning/practice formats*,
and have access to some of the data generated by their courses. The
ability to impact 50,000 beginning Python programmers is pretty

If that sounds interesting to you, the full description is below,
including a link to a short form to complete to register your interest
with the professors. Please fill out this form by October 12th. The
class starts on the 15th.

Please pass this along to anyone else you think would be interested
and who enjoys helping beginning programmers while being patient and


*Example: the course staff developed for
students to use during the class. Love it, hate it, want to extend it,
wish it were open source? Have a say as a Community TA.


Dear Python enthusiasts,

I'm Norian, a member of the course operations team here at Coursera, a
platform which top universities around the world are using to offer
their courses entirely for free to anyone who would like to take them
( We currently have more than 1.6 million students
from 196 different countries taking 200 courses from 33 top
universities. Each of these courses is an enormous international
conversation and learning experience where students can interact with
each other and with experts in the larger community.

The Python Software Foundation is exploring working with Coursera on
several projects, and I'm writing to ask if you'd like to apply to
become a Community TA for our introductory Python course taught by Joe
Warren and Scott Rixner at Rice University, which is starting on
Monday, Oct.15th. To apply, please fill out this mostly informational
application form by Friday Oct. 12th:

58,000 students are currently signed up for this course, and this is
an occasion to make an enormous impact on the way Python is learned
and used around the world. You can take a look at the course here, and
you can even get a sneak preview of the class itself if you already
have a Coursera account:

As a Community TA you will have the following simple responsibilities:

Support student learning by clarifying points, explaining concepts,
and addressing misunderstandings with Python in the class discussion
Spend a minimum of 2 hours on the forums every week.
Flag forum abuse, maintain forum norms, encourage appropriate behavior.

In return, you will have the chance to help shape our massive online
experiment in the way Python is taught online. You will have the
opportunity to teach and mentor students, and to optionally create
supplemental written/video resources for teaching Python which you can
share with this massive nexus of learners and enthusiasts. This is the
first time outside experts have had the chance to help teach students
inside a Coursera course, and it will be a landmark in helping us
connect teachers and learners worldwide, even outside traditional
classroom settings.

We at Coursera are extremely excited that Profs Warren and Rixner have
agreed to help pilot this experiment, and we hope you will take this
unique opportunity and run with it. This is a way to make an impact on
and have a direct connection to tens of thousands of students-- class
starts on Oct. 15th and we hope that you'll join us!

--Norian, on behalf of the Course Operations team at Coursera

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