These ModPo hacks were enumerated and supplemented by ModPo’s fabulous Community TAs—but the main author and compiler is T. de los Reyes.
So there are lifehacks, and then there are ModPo hacks—how-to’s on productivity and making your ModPo experience easier (and more manageable!) Here are things that helped me get by as I was studying and navigating ModPo these past few years.
P.S. This has been existing since 2013/14, but is updated for 2018, with new tips and tricks. It is quite a long read, but I promise it’s worth your time 🙂
P.P.S. I have exceeded the character limit, so other parts will be in the form of comments (View them from Earliest) in this thread. Hope you can follow along!
HOUSTON, I HAVE A PROBLEM
Having trouble with anything technical? The Tech Help Forum is the place to ask. Below are some general information/troubleshooting advice as well:
1. Frequently asked questions
See FAQ and audio guides here. It answers questions about quizzes, peer reviews, office hours, and more.
2. Follow or subscribe?
You can follow a thread discussion and get notifications to subsequent replies to that thread. Meanwhile, you can subscribe to a forum and get notifications to new threads being made in that forum.
3. Is it better to post a new comment than a reply?
You can choose to post a new comment if you’re replying to the original post (the post that started the thread), as a response to their idea or question, or to further the conversation.
If you want to respond directly to a particular comment within the thread, you can choose to reply so that your post will fall under the ‘tree’ of replies for that particular comment, and you can follow a conversation that way, which can exist amidst all the other comments in the same thread. (previously)
4. How to view your own activity
Hover your mouse over your avatar (or your initials that are in a circle) beside your name and click. It will lead you to your own profile page that displays your “Course Activity.” Under “Forum Activity,” you’ll see the total number of posts that you have made so far.
On the right side, you’ll see “Recent Threads,” which show the threads you have created, as well as “Recent Replies,” which show the replies you have made in other threads.
5. Earliest, Top, Most Recent
From Al: “Earliest means the oldest posts within a thread. Latest means the most recent within a thread. Top means the most upvoted within a thread. These should re-organize only comments (not replies) within a thread. The comments will be re-ordered but the replies to comments will be mixed.”
6. Watching ModPo videos offline
Click on any ModPo video (e.g. “watch video on William Carlos Williams’s “Smell!” 15 min”). On that page, see the right-side column under the video, labeled “Downloads.” You can download the “Lecture Video” in mp4 format, as well as the subtitle and transcript.
7. What about privacy?
Note that any links to the forums posted outside of Coursera and shared elsewhere (like on Twitter or on a blog, for example) will only be accessible to those who are currently enrolled in the class. So rest assured that all discussions can only be viewed by your fellow classmates.
STOP THE EMAIL FLOOD!
So you’ve happily followed a thread with an interesting discussion. Heck, you loved a forum so much, you subscribed to the whole thing! But there’s a catch—you didn’t expect the side effect of your inbox blowing up. Keeping up with all the replies suddenly became more of a chore than a joy.
How do you manage email notifications coming from forum posts and control what’s coming to your inbox?
1. Use filters and folders
This automatically identifies mail coming from the ModPo forums and allows you to easily find them. While at it, I also recommend putting them in a separate folder to help lessen clutter, and even skip your inbox.
- How to use filters: read how-to or watch how-to
- How to use labels (labels act as folders): read how-to or watch how-to
- If you’re using the app: how-to on iOS or how-to on Android
- How to use filters: read how-to or watch how-to
- How to use folders: read how-to
- How to use filters: read how-to or watch how-to
- How to use folders: read how-to or watch how-to
Native MAIL app on iPhone or iPad
- How to create folders: watch how-to
2. Use conversation view
This groups emails together, especially if these are replies or part of an ongoing thread. This is especially useful if you are subscribed to a particularly chatty forum but don’t want to miss out by unsubscribing.
No, really. If it gets too much, you are not under any obligation to follow a thread or forum. I recommend that you bookmark the links instead so that you can come back to it at a later time. That way, you still know where to go but you don’t have to drown in a deluge of notifications. Simply go back to the thread in question and click “Unfollow”. You can also choose to change your Coursera email settings.
I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT TO ENJOY THIS
With a thriving community and a discussion forum that is on 24/7, it’s not unusual to feel that you can’t keep up, that you are being left behind. Sometimes it can also be overwhelming, trying to decide how to approach the videos and poems for the week.
Here are some tips (from 2015!) from Al, Julia, and Matthew Corey, fellow CTA that I feel still works today:
“Each day, read a new poem. Watch the video discussion. Look for the poem-specific subforum about that poem and read a few of the comments there and perhaps post one comment yourself. Then the next day – do the same!”
“My favorite tip for reading is to actually to use writing. Print the poems out if you can, and underline, circle, write definitions or associations of words in the margins. Pick a phrase you like and write a response to it.”
“…choose at least 2 chat forums to participate in for each poem if you can – one that is much harder, and one that appears to be much ‘easier’. The harder forum is a way to challenge yourself, to learn new things from others, while the ‘easier’ forum will be a chance for you to share your knowledge with others and feel like you’re contributing (which you might not be doing much of in the ‘harder’ forum). This way you’ll learn but also feel a part of the greater whole – I did that when I took ModPo and think that its a good way to go, especially when time is tight.”
BECOMING A DISCUSSION FORUM NINJA
I often have way too many tabs open when browsing the discussion forums. (Eh, I like to click, and click I will!)
Besides, there are a lot of fascinating conversations going on + I often look up things and other links to aid me. You know how it is — you start with one tab, and the next thing you know, you’ve got 6 windows and 86 tabs open (no kidding, this is my normal usage, ha).
This is when browser extensions, apps, and other tricks come in handy and are awesome! Below are some of what I use often and swear by.
(Please note that I am a Google Chrome desktop user. I tried to find a Firefox and Safari equivalent if possible, but cannot vouch for it. And if you are using Internet Explorer, oh man, please don’t)—
1. One Tab • Chrome | Firefox | watch demo
This extension reduces clutter by converting your tabs into a list. For example, I have a group of tabs related to Week 1 Chapter 1, which I want to come back to later. I will save that as a session and reload at a more convenient time. This beats bookmarking all links and opening them all one by one (and saves memory, too).
2. The Great Suspender • Chrome | Firefox (alternative) | watch demo
A lot of open tabs eat up memory, but this extension helps with that. It puts all your other tabs to ‘sleep’ if you’re not currently browsing them, thereby freeing some much needed RAM. You can just reload the tab when you need it.
3. Grammarly • Website | Chrome | Firefox | Safari | watch demo/review
Want to check your spelling and grammar? I recommend this extension. It proofreads while you type. It also shows word definitions upon double-click of a word. There is a web version here, so you can just copy and paste your text.
4. Google Translate • Website | Chrome | Firefox (alternative) | Safari (alternative) | watch demo
Translates the whole webpage or selected text to a language of your choice.
5. Text to speech converters • Read Aloud (Chrome) | TTSReader (Chrome) | Text to Voice (Firefox) | Text to sppech on Mac
Converts text to speech. Especially useful if you don’t know how to pronounce a word.
6. Better History • Chrome | Firefox (alternative)
Had a really good time browsing forums yesterday but forgot what those threads are? This extension manages your browser history and shows you what tabs you opened on a particular day.
7. Sync tabs across devices • Chrome | Firefox | Safari
Just in case you want to transfer from your PC to your laptop to your phone
8. Pin your tabs • Chrome | Firefox | Safari
Do this if you want certain websites to be always open. When you close your browser, it’ll still be there the next time.
B. Taking notes
1. Microsoft OneNote • Website | Chrome (Web Clipper / Send to OneNote) | iOS | Android | Video tutorial for desktop | Video tutorial for iPad
I love taking notes for ModPo. I write them all down and get hand cramps, but they’re worth it! Nevertheless, a digital notebook can make things easier. This is great for keeping all of your stuff in one place. OneNote allows you to create sections and tabs just like a real notebook, and it syncs across all devices, too. I can look at everything I jotted down on my phone and then open them on my computer as well. Very neat.
2. Writer • Website | Chrome | Firefox (alternative) | Safari (alternative)
This is online notepad and can live in your browser. Have you ever typed a really, REALLY long comment here on Coursera then when you pressed submit nothing gets posted? You click the back button, and it didn’t save your stuff? If you recognise the agony, then I recommend using this browser extension, my friend. You can type here first and it automatically saves your text. It’s in your browser so you don’t have to open another application. Shut down your computer and come back the next day and it’s still there.
3. Awesome Screenshot • Website | Chrome | Firefox
When there’s an interesting comment that I want to save for later, I either save them to OneNote or take a screenshot. I like this extension because you can capture and annotate, then save in your computer. There is an option to capture just part of the page, or the whole webpage, which is nifty!
For Windows users, there is also a built-in Snipping Tool. I suggest pinning this to your Start Menu so you can access it right away.
For Mac users, you can use CMD+SHIFT+3 (fullscreen) or CMD+SHIFT+4 (target area) to take snapshots of your screen. This gets automatically saved to your desktop.
C. Saving and bookmarking threads
1. Bookmarks bar • Chrome | Firefox | Safari | iPad
If you are bookmarking specific pages in the forum and want to get to them quickly, you can choose to display the bookmarks bar on your browser.
2. Save as PDF • Chrome | Safari
If you want to save the discussions in the forum as a viewable page (for offline reading, for example), simply use CMD/CTRL+P then select a destination (save as PDF).
3. Pocket • Website | Chrome | Firefox | Mac | iOS | Android
If you want to read articles or other links for later, I recommend this service. It lets you save content and syncs them across all devices. You can also tag them for better organisation.
4. Google Drive • Dropbox • Microsoft One Drive
Speaking of keeping things in one place, these online storages let you access your files anywhere. You can save all your ModPo files in the cloud so that you can work in both your computer and your phone with everything intact. No need to make manual transfers via USB or other device.
D. Other apps that I enjoy and use
1. If This Then That (IFTTT) • Website | Video tutorial
This tool optimises my online activities. You create a ‘recipe’ that integrates two services, and they will perform an action as needed. For example: whenever Al sends an email about the live webcast, I can set it to create an event automatically on my Google Calendar.
2. Google Calendar • Website | Chrome | Firefox | iOS | Android
I keep myself updated with the upcoming ModPo live webcasts by plotting the dates on my calendar.
I don’t live in Philly, and this is a great tool for me to see what the equivalent time is the live webcast on my own timezone.
4. Trello • Website | Chrome | Firefox | iOS | Android
This is great for managing daily tasks and keeping me on my toes. It also has an app so you can sync on all devices and work seamlessly. This can be used to remind yourself to do the readings, submit assignments, etc. It’s more than a to-do list — it enables you to simulate an agile workflow, which is nerdspeak for “I really like getting things done.”
5. Pushbullet • Website | Chrome | Firefox | Android
Working at multiple devices all at the same time? This service connects them all and allows you to share files and whatnot from one device to another.
6. Feedly • Website | iOS | Android
Discovered new websites that you would like to read often? Save their feeds and be updated when new content is up.
Aside from the loveliness that is the forums, social media is also another way to connect with fellow ModPoers in a more personal way that the other platform can’t do.
I personally use this instead of the native Twitter client because it allows me to have streams aside from my own personal feed.
2. ModPo on Twitter
- Official Twitter account: @ModPoPenn
- Official hashtags: #ModPo and #ModPoLive (for the live webcasts)
- A list that I’ve compiled and you can follow: ModPo Community. It’s not complete nor comprehensive, but if you want to be included, feel free to @message me.
3. ModPo on Instagram
- Official Instagram account: @mod_po
4. ModPo on Facebook
KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS HOORAH
(Replace CTRL with CMD if you’re on a Mac)
- CTRL + C = copy
- CTRL + V = paste
- CTRL + Z = undo
- CTRL + F = find a word on the page
- CTRL + TAB = switches to the next tab on your browser
- CTRL + 9 = switches to the last tab on your browser
- CTRL + SHIFT + T = reopens the last tab you closed
- CTRL + T = new tab
- CTRL + W = new window
- CTRL + HOME = moves to the top of the page
- CTRL + END = moves to the bottom of the page
- ALT + TAB = switches windows
- Spacebar or SHIFT + Spacebar = scroll pages faster
- If you press and hold the CTRL button and move your mousewheel (scroll button) up or down, it will zoom in or out the screen.
- If you click the scroll button on your mouse (or the middle button if there’s one), it will open the link in a new tab automatically.
When I’m not doing ModPo, poetry is still a big part of my life, whether it’s through reading or listening or writing. Here are some extras that I’d like to share, too, to take you further down the road of possibilities.
1. PennSound • Website | Radio
This is a treasure trove of all things good and holy. I could live here forever.
Among the many I subscribe to are:
- Poetry Magazine
- Poem Talk
- Poetry Off the Shelf
- The New Yorker: Poetry
- The Writer’s Almanac
- Poetry Now
I often listen and stream poems being read aloud. There are playlists like this one that’s interesting and worth a listen to.
I also subscribe to the following channels:
This is usually where I buy my books. It ships free all over the world.
Whew! Hope this all helps. I’ll add to this if I think of any more. For now, here’s a hug because you read until the end. Yay!
Please note that you are not obliged in any way to use or follow this. This is not a commercial endorsement. The opinions and recommendations expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the management 🙂