By Barry Peddycord III. By the time this post appears, the first peer-graded assignment in Cathy Davidson’s Coursera MOOC, “History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education,” will have come and gone, and students will be well into the second. Unlike programming projects, algebra exercises, and multiple-choice questions that can all be reliably graded by a computer, Coursera offloads the task of evaluating essays to students. After the deadline for an assignment has passed, students have a week to evaluate five of their classmates’ essays using a rubric developed by the teaching staff. A student who fails to evaluate his or her classmates does not get a grade for the assignment, and in our course will not be able to achieve the statement of accomplishment “with distinction.” Whether students see that as a chore, duty, or opportunity, the necessary assessment is eventually done—for better or for worse. More...