New Emory Coursera Courses Launch

Kenneth Carter and Melinda Higgins

Beginning at the end of January, Emory University will offer two new massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Coursera. Participants can set their own pace through these five-modules courses. Each module contains two hours' worth of content, including video lectures, demonstrations, discussion forums, interactive and personalized assignments, practice quizzes, and other educational resources. The online courses are free, but those wanting to earn a certificate of course completion from Coursera can do so for a fee of $49.00.

The Psychology of Thrill Seekers is taught by Dr. Kenneth Carter, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology at Oxford College. Carter is actively involved in research and teaching, and has been a psychotherapist and researcher for more than 20 years. His work has garnered awards from the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the University of Michigan.

Sensation seeking is a trait we all have. It includes the search for complex and new experiences. Thrill seekers, people with high-sensation seeking personalities, crave exotic and intense experiences even when physical or social risks are involved. This course helps learners examine the remarkable world of the high-sensation seeking personality. It explores the lifestyle, psychology, and neuroscience behind thrill seekers.

Reproducible Templates for Analysis and Dissemination is taught by Dr. Melinda Higgins, Associate Professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Higgins has dual degrees in Chemometrics (PhD) and Statistics (MS) with 25 years’ experience in research, teaching, consulting, directing and managing projects. Her expertise includes programming/scripting languages (R, S, Pascal, Perl, Prolog) and statistical, mathematical, imaging, and geo-spatial processing software packages (R, SAS, SPSS, MATLAB, SYSTAT, ENVI, ESRI ArcView, IMAGINE).

There are a number of advantages of reproducible research principles and dynamic documentation workflows. One key goal of reproducible research is to eliminate manual data manipulations and processing steps which are prone to human error. Another advantage of a dynamic documentation workflow is to connect the data, analysis, visualizations, and reporting together to not only speed up the time to dissemination but also provide a complete audit-trail of all steps from data collection to final report. Many research funding agencies and scientific journals are now requiring an audit-trail supporting reproducible research. This course will cover the steps and resources necessary to set up the software and tools (R and RStudio and associated packages) necessary to build your own templates and utilize existing templates for reproducible data analysis, dynamic documentation, presentation, and dissemination. Each week of the course will address a key component in the analysis workflow process including: software and system set-up; building templates for creating different types of reports and formats; adding parameters to and modularization of the report templates making them useful for standardized reporting and batch processing; and finally covering tools for collaboration and dissemination (for example, cloud-based solutions using Rpubs, Github, and RStudio connect).

The Coursera initiative is a collaboration between the Provost’s Office, through the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE), and the Libraries Information and Technology Services’ (LITS) Teaching & Learning Technologies (TLT) academic production team. For more information about Coursera at Emory, contact Stephanie Parisi, CFDE assistant director of online education at

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