Votes and cookies

Every morning, like brushing my teeth, I dutifully vote 10 times for Razia jan on CNN’s heroes page. She is one of 10 people selected who are now vying for the top spot. I don’t know what the prize is but I am sure it will benefit Afghan girls and that is what matters. Please cast your votes here.

I am back in Pretoria for the home stretch. Today I finished the design, after having run it by the chief last night over dinner. For the retreat we are returning to the same fantasy place (Illyria house, Chinese room) where we were 7 months ago.

Since the business center (a chair with a computer and a printer) at the hotel was not functional (empty ink cartridge) a colleague was so nice to come and get me and installed me at her home office while she was preparing dinner. When I was done I joined a little Dutch boy in baking cookies – the same boy who I had met, with his parents and 5 siblings, two weeks ago. We are good friends now, especially since we got three times the expected number of cookies from the dough and we got to taste them to make sure they were alright.

I am trying to catch up on my two Coursera courses and dutifully do my quizzes at the end of the week. One of the courses has a feature called SSC (screen side chat) with a doctoral student or lecturer reviewing the four topics that got the most votes on the discussion forum. Imagine having to comb through posts from 100.000 students every day.  He acknowledges the authors of insightful questions and manages to make the course feel quite intimate. At the end of each week we are asked to answer questions about whether we believe the teachers care about us (yes!), whether it feels as if he is present (yes!) and such.

I am beginning to suspect what the business model might be and it is all about learning. Imagine getting all these real life stories from 100.000 people – there must be at least 1000 research papers hidden in the discussion forum.

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October 2012
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