Error after Error on Brilliant Coursera

I just had to post this on the Coursera Gamification facebook group wall: “My complete second essay, edited with bold key words, all of my second essay peer review efforts (I have done all 5), and my self evaluation is completely lost in the system, after I submitted them days ago…???? The page is totally empty (not even the instructions are there). And I only noticed this, because I keep thinking that my data is NOT safe with Coursera. I had a look, and first I could not believe that it was completely empty (so I logged out and in again to see), and it is all gone, and now I see that it is all gone for many others according to the official forum (on Coursera). I read many comments, and I see that we should resubmit, but I do not think so! The data should be there. However, there is not even a way to resubmit. Its totally empty. (The first essay results are fine, and I can also display the third essay page with all the descriptions.) I mean, why are these materials not saved in two or three places at Coursera? Why are they NOT sent to us in additional e-mails automatically? And why is there no e-mail explaining that the essay and peer review and self evaluation is missing for thousands of people? I have done my best! Early! Now it is all gone and my efforts are measured as zero???? Now I have to do the entire thing again? Or what? And all of us? 76 000 people, because of one person? I saved my second essay, but there are so many things that I should save here… how am I supposed to know what Coursera is going to delete by mistake again and again? This becomes really frustrating after a while, especially the lack of communications. And there were several times, when it was clear that it was not an IT problem, it was human error (like the quiz with a new version, and old results gone… human error… and the results were there, only hidden for a while). Who is the human who deleted thousands of essays, peer reviews and self assessments? This is no joke. Even, if only one hour is needed to resubmit the second essay (if you saved it), to do 5 peer evaluations again and do the self assessment again, that is 76 000 hours of human work, for one human mistake. This is not a beta system issue. It is an incompetent developer in my humble opinion. Who is this person? How is it possible that all of the listed things disappeared altogether, and no word about it to the students? I love Coursera, but this right here is a management problem, or in fact a collection of management problems (HR and IT, data… and even lack of appropriate communications about the error… facebook would be much more efficient for error communications, because the forum on Coursera is a bit remote). Dear Kevin Werbach, please, help us settle this issue. Thank you! We love your Gamification course, and we love Coursera, but the errors are becoming a huge annoyance. I worked really hard on the second essay (too), and I submitted it properly. I deserve my good grade. I am sure this is true for tens of thousand of people in your course.”

Later I wrote:

“First I was unsubscibed from Gamification by the system (I remained calm, it will be fixed I assumed and did nothing, and it was fixed), next my quiz result was deleted (I know from professor Werbach that it was human error by Coursera and I expected it to be restored… it was), and I remained calm… But now I see that this keeps happening and in this latter case the forum is sending mixed messages, and this issue was not properly addressed since yesterday. On top of it, yesterday, some random people were told to resubmit, and were sent e-mails… Why not me? Why are they not posting an announcement: “Do not worry, your essay is safe if you submitted it, we are working on the system…” This would be basic interface design… Communicate with your beta testers. That would be the minimum, no matter what.”
Update: The second essay error was fixed by Coursera yesterday, our work reappeared (as I expected, all of my work was there, and still no idea why it was gone for a while… I also had my offline copy of my essay, but you can not manually save every nuance from the Coursera platform, for every class… it is not a realistic expectation). I am still in disbelief regarding the lack of appropriate and prompt communications from the Coursera team (no e-mail, no announcement, no forum post, no facebook group post, for a day). This is unprofessional to just simply keep silent until its fixed and only after the fix say “its kind of ok now, or something”. It is a basic interface design rule to communicate fluently and immediately to keep negative reactions under control.

Here is the post that appeared after the fix (below). This announcement is not even fully addressing the issue, and appears to be unaware of the nature of the fix…

“Written Assignment 2 Issues
We’re aware that some students are reporting issues with their submissions or peer assessments for Written Assignment 2. So far, about 40% of students who completed the assignment have been able to submit assessments, but we know others are reporting blank screens or missing content.We’ll post an update when we have further information from Coursera staff. We appreciate everyone’s patience with these technical issues. Wed 19 Sep 2012 10:33:00 PM CEST”


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