Interview with recent Penn grad Peter Barna
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July 21, 2018
Online Learning Initiative
By Megan Doyle
Today we are proud to feature recent Penn graduate Peter Barna, who just started working at Coursera!
Megan: Let’s set the scene. What did you focus on while working with Open Learning?
Peter: When I started at Open Learning in the summer of 2013, MOOCs were a really new thing so I started by exploring what the first courses looked like and how they were structured. That helped a lot when I started to outline the production process for creating Penn’s MOOCs. I also worked with TAs and some instructors of these courses, showing them “best practices” for using Coursera and for converting their traditional class to an online setting.
Megan: Tell us about the new gig!
Peter: I am officially I am a Specializations Associate on the Community Operations team at Coursera. That means I work specifically on Specializations — bundles of 3 to 5 courses with a central theme on anything from software development to music to video game design. My team is in charge of setting up the necessary milestones and checklists to produce a Specialization, and then executing them through the entire process. It’s great because I am in contact with so many teams and I get to understand the different aspects of Coursera, and startups in general.
Megan: What made you stick with MOOCs?
Peter: Looking back, it seems like a natural transition to go from Open Learning to Coursera. But in the moment I was exploring different paths that it didn’t really jump out to me until Amy Bennett (my awesome boss at Open Learning!) recommended I seriously look into it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after college exactly, but I knew I was sold on the idea of these online courses and how they can change people’s lives. So I applied, and things have worked out great!
Megan: What has been your most favorite MOOC experience so far?
Peter: It was definitely analyzing the data on who were taking Penn’s Coursera coursesall across the globe, and trying to figure out ways to increase Penn’s global reach. I got to clean and organize the raw data myself, and make sense of over a million data points. It may sound nerdy, but it was really rewarding at the end, like I had built something from scratch. And it was great for me because I studied globalization as part of PPE(the Philosophy, Politics and Economics major), and this gave me a view of globalization in action.
Megan: Thanks Peter! Best wishes on your new endeavor.