Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week Ending 31 August 2014

Since I love reading Day in the Life of type posts when I saw that this week was   Day-in-the-Life Week over at iHomeschool Network I decided to write a post and link up. You can read about our Monday here. Not necessarily typical but it was a day.

Tuesday was a lot less enjoyable and productive from my point of view since I obviously slept oddly and woke up with a really sore neck and shoulder. I walked around all day with my head tilted to one side and a hot wheat pack draped around my neck. Miss 13 continued happily with minimum input from me, although she did seek help with a couple of algebra problems that she couldn't get to come out right. Thankfully Mr 16 was more productive than he had been the day before - completing physics, Duolingo, economics and vocabulary before lunch. He would have done statistics as well but Dh had inadvertently taken the statistics book into work with him. Miss 13 had a two hour trampoline class in the afternoon and Mr 16 attended Cubs, where he continues to volunteer. He did maths and history late in the evening and even came to tell me something interesting from the history video - I was in bed but (thankfully!) not asleep.

Wednesday was a beautiful day so Miss 13 sped through her work in the morning while I mowed the lawns (my neck was much improved). We were all planning to do Big History together in the afternoon but we changed our minds since Miss 13 and I wanted to go birding instead. The lake was full of bird life and we were most excited to see over a hundred wrybill. They migrate to the North Island in winter and have obviously started to return, resting at the lake before moving on to the braided rivers where they will attempt to breed. We also had great close-up views of skylarks but they were really skittish and the sound of the camera always caused them to fly off - leaving us with lots of shots of bare land, where a millisecond before had been a lovely bird!  I dropped Miss 13 at trampolining on my way home to make the dumplings to add to the beef casserole that was bubbling away in the crockpot. In the evening Mr 16 attended a Mountain Safety course. All up it is three nights in the classroom and then a two-day tramp.

Both kids got a reasonable amount of work done on Thursday in between copious games of Yahtzee that they are still keen to play at every opportunity. We even got to yesterday's history. Extra curriculars were trampolining as ever for Miss 13 and Scouts for Mr 16. He's actually aged out of the Scout section but helps out every now and again. Since they were watching The Hobbit tonight and he hasn't seen it he was keen to go along. In good news I got a call from the mechanic to say that the problem with the car could well be a lot more minor (and therefore cheaper) than I'd first feared. Fingers crossed. In other good news Miss 13 made chocolate sauce to have with ice cream for dessert. Chocolate is always good news!

On Friday Miss 19, Miss 13 and I went to a craft show. We've been going for years and were a bit disappointed by this one - a new management company has taken over and there were far fewer vendors than previous years. On the positive side our favourites were there . The girls got to stock up on card-making supplies and I stocked up on some delicious smelling soaps.



On Saturday I was surprised to see two largish parcels in the mailbox - one addressed to Dh and the other to me. Turns out we'd entered a competition a week or so ago and both won prizes -  DVD collections, thankfully different ones. We never win anything (actually I lie - I just remembered that back in  the days when we only had two kids I won a mountain bike - male of course but it served Dh well until it was stolen last year) so for us both to win from the same draw was particularly amusing.

Sunday was very relaxed - a trip to the library so I could stock up on reading material plus a stop at the book store so I could look at a new cookbook by my current favourite cookbook author. I have a bit of an addiction to recipe collecting and the aim was to prove to myself that I didn't actually need this book. And it's true - I don't. But seeing it made we want it all the more! I contented myself with placing a hold for it in the library system. Shame I don't have a birthday coming up any time soon though.

Linking up with Mary's Collage Friday and Kris's Weekly Wrap-Up

A Day in Our Life

5:45am - The alarm goes  off (I can't believe I'm having to type that) and Miss 13 and I get up. Normally I get up at 7am and Miss 13 around 8am. With the National Gymsports championships only five weeks away her trampoline coach has initiated an extra training session per week. It is optional and I wasn't keen - especially not given the time - but she wanted to give it a go so I reluctantly agreed. If she doesn't like it (fingers crossed) we won't go again.

6:20am - I'm home and it hardly seems worthwhile to go back to bed - although I am tempted. So I catch up on emails and blog reading, have breakfast, feed the dog, make Dh's lunch and do a few other things while everyone else is still in bed.

7:30am - I leave to pick up Miss 13. She's enjoyed the session - mostly ballet exercises and other core conditioning work - and is keen to continue so I'll have to get used to one very early start per week until the beginning of October :-(  We get home about 8:10am and everyone else is up -  a bit of a surprise since Mr 16 often doesn't appear until after 10am.

9am - Miss 13 starts with the last dictation passage from the Boomerang guide for Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. We also have a discussion based on some of the questions in the guide. Mr 16 disappears off to his room (pretty sure he won't be working yet) and Miss 19 heads off to university. Dh has already departed.

9:30am - Miss 13 moves on to maths. This is not her favourite subject but today's lesson obviously goes well. She prefers to work alone, mark her own work and correct any mistakes herself. She'll ask for my help if she doesn't understand the lesson or if she can't fix her mistakes. Today she says she got one wrong but it was a silly mistake and she corrected it easily. While she's working on this I pay some bills, hang a load of laundry on the line, and make a few phone calls - including one to the mechanic. I have a horrible feeling this one will prove costly.

10:15 am - Miss 13 is ready to watch a segment of A Brief History of Humankind. I join her for this since I find it fascinating. Mr 16 is also doing the course but prefers to work at night so he and I will discuss today's segment - daily life in the Stone Age - tomorrow morning.

11am - It's time to take Basil for a walk. We bump into a neighbour walking their dog but we decide to go another way. Their dog is small, Bas is big and he can never understand why it doesn't want to play with him. A lovely walk including a stretch along a stream bank with lovely bird call and large patches of daffodils getting ready to bloom.

11:45am - We're back and opt for an early lunch. Reading the newspaper leads to some discussion of current events - Syria, Ebola, the current political scandal in our country, and which way the kids would vote if they could (we have a national election next month).

12:30pm - Miss 13 begins her science. While she likes the programme - Real Science Odyssey's  Biology 2, today's lesson on fossil dating is not a favourite.  I go over a couple of things she's still a bit unclear about. Mr 16 is at his computer working on Duolingo. German conjunctions today.

1pm - Mr 16 decides to deliver some things to his grandmother. A good excuse to drive the car I think! Meanwhile Miss 13 spends some time on Duolingo. Even though she's decided not to carry on with formal French she still enjoys Duolingo for fun. Then she curls up on the couch with a book. I poach some chicken which I need cooked and cooled for tonight's dinner.



2:15pm Mr 16 returns and decides to watch 12 Angry Men (I've added a movie or two to his literature suggestions for the year). Miss 13 and I watch it too. Some great discussion during and afterwards - guided by a couple of free guides from the Teach with Movies site.

4pm. The kids are playing Yahtzee, reading and Miss 13 spends time on the computer working on some stories she's writing. She also reads over the assignment from our other history programme and makes a start on it. I email it to Mr 16 who groans (I had indicated we might skip this one since we added the Coursera history course into the mix  - however, it is on responses to disease and how they changed over time. With Ebola in the headlines it seemed relevant so I played my mean Mum card!) and says he'll get to it later! He is also on the computer but it seems to be Facebook and various computer forums.

5:45pm - The three of us decide to eat. Miss 19 took her dinner since she won't be home until late. Banh Mi sandwiches tonight - a relatively light and casual evening meal but the Vietnamese flavours are just what I feel like. We're not sure when Dh will be home but Mr 16 has a Scouting meeting to attend and Miss 13 and I have an ornithology meeting so we can't wait to eat with him.

7pm. - Mr 16 has already left and now Miss 13 and I head out, collecting an elderly friend on the way.

9:30pm - We return after a great meeting. Tonight's speaker is a fantastic raconteur and a great birder who gave two short talks. The first was on bird life in Christchurch post earthquakes. Take home message was that the quakes were a double edged sword for birds. While there were many fatalities (penguins entombed in their burrows by disintegrating cliffs being just one example) and some species have fallen in numbers, others just relocated slightly and the changes to the land structure has meant new naturally occurring habitats - although they do need to be well managed. He also spoke about his birding experiences in Indonesia. When we got back everyone else was home so we had a quick catch up before Miss 13 and I headed for bed.

*****

Reading back over the day really highlights the differences between Miss 13 and Mr 16. They both have work they are expected to complete by the end of the week but I leave it up to them as to exactly when they do it.  She likes to get it mostly done by Thursday. She had a very productive day making good progress on every subject, plus plenty of free time for her own interests. As is typical she does more bookwork on Monday than on any other day. Mr 16 did very little today but I'm (mostly) relaxed about it. It's very rare that he does not complete his work by the end of the week. He likes to spread it out, prefers to work at night (he's most productive between 9 and 11pm) and would rather do some work on the weekend than feel "too busy" on weekdays.  Mondays tend to be his least productive day - often because he is recovering from a busy Scout related weekend. It's not necessarily the way I would prefer him to work but I know he can work in a more traditional fashion if he has to.

Linking up to iHomeschool Network's Day-in-the-Life Blog Hop.



Saturday, August 23, 2014

Week Ending 24 August 2014

This was a pretty good week - lots going on. Among the highlights:

* Two birding trips for Miss 13 and me - and we even remembered to take the camera on one of them!
Clockwise from top left - Scaup , Pukeko, Muscovy Duck and Australasian Coot. 

Canada Goose on the left. Red billed gull, chaffinch, Black Swan cygnet and Mallard on the  right.


* Miss 13 finished her Latin course for the year.  She's pretty sure she'll do Latin again next year but right now is pleased to have it off her plate. French is also complete and she is looking forward to finishing other courses over the next month and moving into a low tide/unstructured learning phase for a while.

* It was Dh's birthday so we went out for a meal and a movie   -  The Hundred-Foot Journey.  We both enjoyed the film, not to mention spending time together. We grabbed coffee afterwards and ran into a friend who we haven't seen since she moved out of town years ago. (Our home used to be their home. When they moved we  initially rented from them until they decided to sell. At one stage I helped homeschool their daughter one morning a week.) It was great to have a quick catch up.

* Mr 16's had a busy week. First up was Scout week and his section was invited to different groups to promote themselves and run activities for younger sections. He spent a lot of time planning each evening . One of the events was a quiz night and Miss 13 helped him come up with some of the questions. Then he was out three nights in a row actually running the activities at different groups. I was glad he could drive himself there and back! On top of that he spent the weekend at an outdoor first aid course, which was apparently fairly hazardous to his health. At various times over the weekend he 'suffered' some gruesome looking hand injuries, hypothermia and even death! Clearly his fellow participants (and hopefully him too) were well trained since he looked in remarkable good shape when he returned home!

As a mother I'm glad these 'injuries' aren't the real thing.


* Miss 13 began Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. She's a murder mystery fan so was pleased when I discovered a free guide from Bravewriter to go along with the book - especially since it didn't have any pesky comprehension questions but was based on dictation passages instead.She even asked for a dictation passage over the weekend since she was so keen to finish the book and discover whodunnit. We don't own the book and borrowed it from the university library. Turns out theirs is an older version with a different - politically incorrect - title. Further investigation revealed the book had a second title - not as politically incorrect as the first but still no longer seen as acceptable - before the current title was settled upon. Interesting, unexpected learning opportunities right there!

* History is going really well. Both Miss 13 and Mr 16 are enjoying the Coursera course, finding it really well structured and thought-provoking. Mr 16 even voluntarily started taking notes - and he absolutely hates notetaking. While driving to his first aid course one morning we had a lengthy discussion about one of the segments - very philosophical in nature . It made me think I should investigate possible philosophy courses for him next year - preferably outsourced since he loves to argue/debate and I'm not sure it would be great for my sanity!

* A trip to a dog park with Basil. To say he loved it - especially the river - was an understatement!




Linking with Mary's Collage Friday over at Homegrown Learners.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week Ending 17 August 2014

Back to formal work for Miss 13 after her delayed two week break.

The most eventful thing  about Monday was history. All  three of us started a new MOOC - A Brief History of Humankind. I enrolled in it last year but never finished it. I didn't discover it until the course was well underway and trying to get caught up at a very busy time of the year for us just proved too much. So I was delighted to see it offered again, especially since I've felt our current history programme is a little lacking, although I haven't been able to put my finger on exactly what the problem is.  This MOOC ties in really well with what we are so - with not too much arm-twisting - I've convinced everyone that we'll continue with our current course and add this in as well.

Speaking of our current history programme..... When we went to log into the Big History Project course I was totally thrown. Since last week they have totally reformatted the site and rejigged the course, I'm guessing due to the new North American school year and possibly the spread of Common Core. Even though much of the content is the same, the new packaging totally threw me -  I wasn't able to operate on autopilot!  Looks like there are a few bugs too. The online quiz (a new feature) that we took had one question that didn't really make sense and none of the possible answers was ever marked right. But we'll persevere because I still like the concept behind the course...and we've only got a few weeks to go before we finish. While Mr 16 would have no problem bailing now Miss 13 is like me . We have to finish things!

Tuesday's highlight was a birding expedition in the morning to an old quarry site. Great company (we went with a small group) even if there weren't a lot of birds to be seen. Apparently Basil totally missed us while we were away, even though he still had company at home, and Mr 16 had taken photos to prove it. Miss 19 joked that they were going to have to text me to come home because he was missing his Mummy too much!

While we were out birding Basil spent all his time looking for us out the front door, out various windows and  out a convenient knothole in the gate.


Wednesday and Thursday passed in a routine blur of maths and Latin and more history and science and reading and trampoline practice.

On Friday Miss 13 was pleased that the results of the Animal Behaviour MOOC were finally released and she did achieve distinction as she'd hoped. I was really frustrated to have to cancel a group field trip I'd tried to organise. A local living history park runs a class for teens focusing on the women's suffrage campaign. I organised one few years ago that both Miss 19 and Mr 16 enjoyed - dressing up, role playing, experiencing the liberation of riding early bicycles, setting a printing press and signing a copy of a petition calling for women to be granted the vote among other things. We needed at least ten teens and, despite advertising among two different groups, not a single person was interested. I suspect it was seen as too frivolous and fun for the exam focused home schoolers and probably  too mainstream for the more alternative types. Still sad for Miss 13 who was really looking forward to it and an example of our not really fitting in with local homeschooling groups.

Weekend highlights included an informal class reunion for dh with a group he was at school with around the ages of 10-12. Something my kids will never experience, but then again neither will I. I can barely recall the names of my classmates from that age and have no real desire to catch up with those I do recall! Mr 16 had a day long Scouting leadership course and Miss 13 went to an iceshow with some relations. I took advantage of the quiet time to finish reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings. A nice mix of fact and fiction I thought.






Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week Ending 10 August 2014

This week was very much like the last for Miss 13 except the Commonwealth Games had finished and she and Mr 16 switched from playing Monopoly to playing Yahtzee.


Multiple games of Yahtzee were played every day this week.


A couple of the books Miss 13 has read this week.


There were a couple of highlights, however.

*We went birding at a local wetlands. Just recently our birding has felt a little flat. Winter probably has a lot to do with it - not as many birds around and they are not as active. So we hit on the idea of picking one spot to visit at least once a month. We picked this wetland since it isn't too far away, it is small enough that counting all the birds isn't too daunting a job yet  it still has a range of interesting birds. There used to be a housing subdivision bordering this wetland but the area was badly damaged in the earthquakes and has  been abandoned. In the past few months the majority of the houses have been demolished and the damage to the land means the area isn't likely to be suitable for rebuilding. So it'll be interesting to see how this impacts the neighbouring birdlife. Some of the highlights of this visit were ten Royal Spoonbills which flew in just as we were leaving , two Caspian terns hunting overhead, three Kingfishers, and a pair of Australasian Shovellers mating.  We're looking forward to seeing if they successfully raise any young.

* Miss 13 had a trampoline competition - the last one before Nationals in October.  I go to all her competitions but opted to skip this one.  The budget dictates I won't be going to Nationals with her so I thought this would be a good practice run for competing without parental support on the sideline. Apparently it wasn't her finest performance ever (I don't think my absence was the problem) but she still came away with a second and a third placing, which seems to be an accurate reflection of where she is this season. Hopefully the kinks can be ironed out over the next few weeks.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week Ending 3 August 2014

The first of a two week break for Miss 13 and I this week. We both clearly needed one since neither of us has done a lot all week. It seems like Miss 13 spent the entire week in her pyjamas reading, watching the Commonwealth Games on television, or playing Monopoly with Mr 16. He was still working but is going through a night owl stage. I think he slept all morning, played Monopoly all afternoon  and then did his required work in the evening! I've done a lot of reading as well - I'm currently finishing Saree , which is the best of the books I've read recently although the ethnic prejudice and violence of Sri Lanka in the 1980s means its not always a pleasant read. I've also spent plenty of time on the net, gathering ideas and resources to perk up our homeschooling this year, and mulling over ideas and possibilities for next year.

Some other highlights:
* Attending the monthly meeting of our local birding group . It was an interesting talk on the use of DNA analysis and what it has taught us about the Kiwi and the Moa, both iconic New Zealand birds, although the Moa is sadly extinct.

* Ordering Miss 13's regional leotard for the national competition in October. This was a real drama since it is an entirely new team leotard meaning there are no samples to try. And she is obviously not of a standard proportion since different measurements (waist, torso etc) had her in four different size ranges. Hoping that we made the right choice since a badly fitted leotard looks (and apparently feels) terrible.

* Wonderful warm weather. We're still officially in the middle of winter but we had four days of summer temperatures. Nothing like plenty of sunshine to lift the spirit! The yard even dried out enough for me to do a little gardening. Mostly I was weeding - it is amazing how they grow and take over when nothing else is growing. I also discovered the delights of gardening with a doggy "helper". If he wasn't trying to run away with the hoe (that long handle looks just like a stick) then he was standing right in front of the hoe as I was trying to remove weeds! I was delighted to discover the daphne bush starting to bloom since I absolutely adore its fragrance. And the Livingstone daisies were putting on a real show, which was a surprise since they didn't do anything all summer and mine usually die off over winter due to the cold.




* Miss 13 and I enjoyed a great afternoon's birding. We didn't manage to track down  the elusive Golden Pheasant but there were plenty of other highlights, including large numbers of Royal Spoonbills and Crested Grebes.

* Lots of walks and games of chase the stick with Basil, although lots of exercise on a hot day was obviously tiring.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Homeschooling Using MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) can be a great addition to a homeschool programme for a highschool, or potentially even a middle school, student. Over the past year we've enrolled in six MOOCs  – four though Coursera and two via Future Learn. Mostly we've just watched the videos and enjoyed learning on our own terms in a fairly relaxed way, either to supplement an existing course of study or purely for interest. Recently through, Miss 13 enrolled in Animal Behaviour, a Coursera course from the University of Melbourne.  This dovetailed nicely with her passion for birding, so she decided to complete all the assessments and assignments in the hopes of earning a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction, which required a minimum grade of 80%. What follows is based on that particular course, although there is much similarity in the format of all the Coursera courses we've completed.

What You Get
The main component of the course – the guts of it if you like – was a series of videos. These were nothing flashy – just the lecturer talking to the camera , with some simple graphics included – graphs, illustrations, and some written text. However, the lecturers are experts in their field and we found the videos to be well organised and engaging. Many of the studies covered in the lectures related to birds, which was bonus as far as Miss 13 was concerned!  Rather than one long lecture per week, there were several (five to seven) shorter segments of between 7 and 22 minutes each. Once or twice during each video there was a multiple choice question for the student to answer to check their understanding. Multiple attempts were allowed and an explanation was provided. The questions weren't graded and you could simply skip them, but they were a good way to check the material presented was being understood.


We found the video lecture format to be simple yet engaging and effective.


The site featured a variety of  features to help students learn, understand and apply the concepts.
* A glossary – very helpful for checking those tricky technical terms.
* Discussion forums – One for each weeks' lectures, one for the assignments plus others on more general topics. This was a great chance to discuss things with other students, ask questions etc. Teaching Assistants are on the discussion forums to provide guidance as well.We never came across any discourteous comments or behaviour on the forums.  
* Weekly Study Guides – These laid out the key concepts for each week, provided suggestions for how much time each task would take, and provided links to recommended resources.
* List of extension readings – These weren't required for any of the assessments but were really helpful for in depth exploration of those topics we found especially interesting.
* Researcher Meets – Three discussions with active animal behaviour researchers. These were conducted via Google Hangouts so only a limited number of students could directly participate. But it was possible to submit questions beforehand and the chats were on YouTube for later viewing.




The site is easy to navigate. Links to everything you need - lectures, discussion forums, assignment instructions - are on the side bar on the left.

For those who wished there was a 10 question multiple choice quiz most weeks. The first one was a practice quiz and didn't count towards the final grade. The other six were worth 10% of the final grade. A student was allowed three attempts at each quiz and the highest score was the one that counted. I've been really impressed by the quizzes and the way they not only assessed knowledge but also helped in the learning process. Once the quiz was completed it was automatically graded and the student could see what they got right and wrong, along with a brief explanation. The really clever part came if a student decided to resit the quiz. While the topic of each question stayed the same sometimes the question itself varied a little and the possible answers often changed. In other words each quiz was slightly different. To score better on the second and third attempts you really needed to have understood the explanation provided after the first attempt, possibly reviewed your notes and the videos, and been able to apply the concept. You couldn't just memorise the correct answers.


I'm not normally a fan of the multiple choice format but I thought these questions were well designed. Students had to understand and be able to apply the concepts to do well. 



In addition there were two assignments, each worth 20% each. The first involved writing an article of less than 1000 words for a general audience, describing and critiquing discoveries about animal behaviour from a published scientific paper. The second involved observing a wild animal,  and keeping field notes of the observations. Based on those field notes students then has to come up with a question on animal behaviour, formulate a hypothesis, and design (but not actually conduct) an experiment to test the hypothesis. The assignments were peer reviewed. After submitting the assignment each student had to grade (guided by a rubric) the work of three of their course mates. Each rubric had several components and a students final grade was the total of the median grade they received for each individual component.

An extract from Miss 13's field notes assignment.

Pros and Cons
Overall this was a great experience for Miss 13. Initially she felt a little intimidated by the course. Not only was she one of the younger students but many others were far more qualified and experienced. Comments on the forums revealed for instance that one student was about to begin a Masters degree in Zoology and another was working in Africa on a well-funded project and had planes following herds of animals that she could use as the basis of the field work assignment! Definitely in a different league! But her confidence grew as she scored well in all the tests. Grading the assignments of others further proved she was not out of her depth, and this was confirmed by the good grades and positive comments she received on her assignments. The final results have yet to be confirmed but she should easily have achieved her goal of  a Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction. The material was challenging at times, but to be able to master it and do well was immensely satisfying and a great confidence boost.

If you were just doing the course for interest there would be a huge amount of flexibility since you could download the videos and watch them whenever you wanted, even after the course itself is over. You could also do as much or as little as you personally wanted. The quizzes had a small amount of flexibility since each student had two late days that they could use to submit a quiz late without incurring a penalty. After that there was a 10% penalty for each day the quiz was late and after the hard deadline (a week after the due date) the quiz grade could not be submitted for credit at all. With the assignments there was no flexibility at all. The sheer numbers of students in the class and the logistics of the peer review process made this impossible. Unlike regular university where you can always make an individual appeal to a lecturer in case of illness or the like. Since we only discovered the course a week after it had started  and Miss 13 was quite unwell for two of the eight weeks we weren't entirely sure she'd be able to complete the assignments to a satisfactory level to submit. She did manage it, but time spent on assignments was time that couldn't be spent on other things such as additional readings and researcher meets. However, even though the course is officially over we have downloaded all that we need to follow up these areas and continue our learning as time permits.

The peer review grading process can also be problematic. Even with a grading rubric Miss 13 sometimes struggled to know whether she was giving a fair grade and also struggled with the extent to which she should follow the rubric. Was it a guideline or a set of hard and fast rules? From the forums it was clear some students used it one way and some another. Some students also felt that had been marked unfairly and there was no appeal process and no way of discussing your grade with the markers (who are all anonymous) to find out exactly what led them to their marking decisions.  In both assignments Miss 13's grades were within the range she felt she deserved (in one case slightly higher but she is fairly tough on herself) but we saw how it could easily have been different. In one assignment she submitted a link to a PDF as allowed. However, one of her markers either didn't realise it was a link or couldn't open it. He or she commented that the assignment was empty and had no content. Therefore the grades from that marker were presumably all zeroes. Since the final mark received was a median of the three markers' grades this didn't unduly affect her overall mark. However, if one of the other two markers made the same mistake she could have ended up with a 0 for the entire assignment, effectively ending her goal of earning a distinction. Some way of flagging or appealing blatantly unfair or incorrect marks would be nice but, given the size of the course (over 20,000 enrolled although I do not know how many actually submitted assignments)  and the fact that the lecturers are not being paid to run these courses, this is probably unrealistic.

Overall, I've found MOOCs - Coursera's especially  -  to be a great addition to our homeschooling programme. They offer a wide range of higher level, high quality content,  best suited to independent learners in my opinion. Coursera courses are entirely free. Although you can pay for a verified certificate, the course content is available to anybody at no cost.  My main caveat would be that there is potential for the grading process to go wrong. If your student is robust enough to deal with this, great. If not just enjoy the learning process but don't necessarily worry about submitting assignments and trying to earn a statement.