Just sharing some observations about the social aspects of the course that I just sent to a friend:
talking about community as we did earlier today, there are definitively ways in which this course could be improved - even though I think the videos are great value. there could be much more social interaction integrated into the materials - ability to attach comments to specific times in the video, or even just have comments below each video (since they are so short, this would work quite well). they might not be doing that for fear of cluttering, having to moderate etc...
right now all the interaction - apart from the peer grading which is through an automatic system - happens in the forums. what's fascinating is that people went crazy during the first week to create all kinds of linguistic and regional forums. now, I actually think it's pretty exciting to see people discussing in spanish, chinese and rumanian about these videos (and there are even some efforts to crowdsource translations of the subtitles to the lectures). of course it would be great to have culturally appropriate top-quality resources in every language in the world, but that is not done in a day, and even if you had great rumanian resources, it's natural for many in rumania to want to see "the best in the world" from Stanford etc... and with slowing down the video, using captions etc, the English language material is accessible to many people who might feel much more comfortable to discuss in their own languages...however many of the groups are in English, and are more bound by area - people in Vancouver for example. now the cool thing about this is that you could potentially meet up in person.however, what I see so far (having clicked around a bit) is that there is a tremendous amount of introductions (one or two lines - hi I'm Nishant from India, I am studying HCI, interested to meet everyone), for page after page, and then... nothing of substance! :)I'm sure in a lot of the literature on online learning, creating a sense of community, identity etc is highlighted, but this is different when you're 15 people for 12 weeks, than when you're thousands of people for five weeks... i don't really care to see huge amounts of intros, I would be much more interested to see relevant discussions of the contents.
(and almost all the other more substantial discussions are about logistics - how to submit assignments etc, as well as suggestions on how to improve the site etc - which given the course's focus on HCI I guess you could say are "somewhat on task" but not really)...anyway just an interesting observation :)