First Impressions: Wharton’s Coursera Intro to Accounting

Perhaps it’s too early to judge? (I’m only in Week 2 of 10)  Perhaps accounting is just that boring?  Either way, so far Wharton’s Intro to Financial Accounting course on Coursera pales in comparison to the UVA Darden Business Strategy Coursera class in almost every way.  Let me explain.


First, the Accounting class’ video lectures are simply a combination of text-heavy PowerPoint slides with a voice-over, and occasional web-cam-from-my-office appearance of the professor.  To make matters worse, a mock-classroom with virtual classmates chimes in every now and then with questions for the professor.  See image below:

Screencap of Wharton's Intro to Accounting Coursera class

Screencap of Wharton’s Intro to Accounting Coursera class

Yes, it’s that bad.


Although this does make for a more realistic dialogue-ish classroom dynamic, it’s pretty hard to get past the ridiculous text-to-voice accents with which the virtual students robotically speak.  If you can look past that, have the endurance to make it through the excessive length, and can ignore the fact that this professor has essentially written a screenplay set in a classroom in which he is all the actors for each lecture, the actual material isn’t so bad.


To be fair, this is my first accounting class, and it seems like a dry topic.  In addition, I have no underlying passion for or interest in accounting in general.  I do give the professor credit for trying to liven things up a bit, but at this point it’s just not working.  I’ll carry on with an open mind, and hopefully things get better over the next few weeks.  After all, it is a 10-week class…


OR, maybe the Accounting class just seems bad in contrast with the Strategy class which consists of concise, professional video lectures with high quality graphics cleverly produced by the Darden media team.

StrategyPic1In the Strategy class the videos are engaging, entertaining, and to-the-point.   They add to the written material and PowerPoint slides.  Did I mention they are short?

Screencap of Darden's Foundations of Business Strategy Coursera class

Screencap of Darden’s Foundations of Business Strategy Coursera class

Although I don’t plan on following its lead, at the end of every Accounting video lecture, my virtual classmates all dance around and celebrate making it through the video (as seen below).

Screenshot of my Accounting classmates celebrating the end of the video

Screenshot of my Accounting classmates celebrating the end of the video

This hokey, albeit kind of endearing, final hoorah claws back some of the points I so ruthlessly docked from this class earlier on, and just might end up winning me over with time.  Probably not, but maybe.


    • Thomas on October 17, 2013 at 9:30 am
    • Reply

    That seems… interesting. It appears there is a right way and a wrong way to convert a classroom lesson into a Coursera lesson, and this is the wrong way. I hope to see some examples of good teachers and courses soon so I can decide what to take while making my homemade MBA. Thanks for the posts, cool website, cool idea.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      I couldn’t agree more! With Coursera there are so many great potential features, and this class isn’t taking advantage of them. Interestingly enough, Wharton’s Intro to Marketing class is the complete opposite of this – it has professionally made videos shot at a studio using a green screen and animated graphics. I guess even inside Wharton the approaches vary quite a bit.

      Thanks for the comment, and stay tuned for my reviews of all of these courses. Good luck with your homemade MBA – let me know how it goes!

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