Excerpts below from "Coursera looks to harness the free labor of its devotees...Wielding 'Power Users'" by Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, November 29, 2012
"..experiments in various MOOCs that seek to deputize certain students into the company’s instructional model. Professors have begun recruiting “community TAs” (teaching assistants) from its class rolls based on a combination of academic performance and activity in online discussion forums. 'This has been piloted out only in a couple classes so far, and we're still working on figuring out what works best before rolling this out more broadly,' says Andrew Ng, one of the co-founders of Coursera.
"The company is still feeling out what should qualify students to be TAs and what sort of administrative privileges they should get. The models have differed across courses, says Caporale-Berkowitz, but the most promising so far has been in a course on Probabilistic Graphic Models, taught by Daphne Koller, one of Coursera’s co-founders. That course has been held twice; the second time around, Koller selected 18 high-performing participants from the previous iteration who had also been active on the forums and appointed them community TAs.
In addition to an icon next to their posts in the discussion forums identifying them as TAs (as well as flags on discussion threads to which they have made contributions), those 18 students also had an exclusive channel to Coursera’s administrative team.
"The idea is to give these power users 'the sense that they’re contributing and helping build this with us,' says Caporale-Berkowitz. And there could be more perks in the future, he says. The company could grant TAs special certificates of achievement indicating that they have learned the content well enough to help teach it. As for courses with a peer-grading component, feedback from users who have 'shown proficiency in grading the way the professor might have graded' may get extra weight, says Caporale-Berkowitz."