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All good things must come to an end…

it is with great appreciation and some sadness that i write about the end of an extraordinary 10-week class that can only be described as a truly remarkable experience.

Coursera, is a for-profit educational technology company founded by computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University. Coursera partners with various top-tier universities around the world and makes a few of their courses available online free for a large audience. As of October 2012 more than 1,755,551 students from 196 countries have enrolled in at least one course.

My incredible journey was with approximately 33,000 other students who were simultaneous overwhelmed and enthralled by the Modern and Contemporary American Poetry syllabus offered by the University of Pennsylvania and led by the enthusiastic, exuberant and remarkably energetic Al Filreis.

“Higher education that overcomes the boundaries of geography, time and money!” is a student quote on the website’s main page. This perfectly sums up what Coursera offers. But in the case of ModPo, there was so much more. Rather than being merely an online class it grew into an incredible community. People cared about the subject because Al and the TAs brought it to life, but somewhere in there people came together — either from his enthusiasm (which is surely contagious) or because we were a collective of like-minded individuals — and formed a community.

This course was free, but make no mistake the work was from a higher education curriculum. It was serious, rigorous and at times difficult. There were readings, papers to write, and quizzes, but the video discussions is where everything happened, where the poetry and the course came alive. Al’s passion for poetry ignited all who viewed him. I think I can speak for my many classmates when I say we came away with an unsurpassed gift of knowledge and either a new found or deepened love of poetry.

I do not know how much longer these courses will be free, so take a look at Coursera and participate soon.