Date: 27th February 2016
Background: I have completed 4 courses in the Coursera + Uni of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Cloud Computing Specialization -- Cloud Computing Concepts (1 & 2), CC Applications, Cloud Networking. I enrolled for the Capstone, but dropped out after 3 weeks.
I completed CC Concepts 1 in March 2015. So, this is a very long-range, retrospective review.
The syllabus covers a wide range of topics in Distributed Computing, some of which are ubiquitous in Cloud Computing (as practised by the major vendors - AWS, Azure, etc.), others not so much.
The instructor promised a "look under the hood" for Cloud Computing, i.e. "the physics relating to the internals" of a car, not a driving lesson. In that sense, the course delivers -- but, maybe a little more than necessary in some areas, less in others. More breadth, less depth.
I too found the instructor's style of presentation un-engaging. More like reading from a script. Specifically, the instructor is often painfully slow and laborious where the concepts are simple, but rushed when the concepts are more complex.
You get 3 attempts on the weekly quizzes/homework. The Mid-Term and Final exams are TIMED with 2 attempts. About 20% of the questions are tricky, not difficult. The rest are straightforward, if you've followed the videos. Several questions are worded badly enough to be unclear or ambiguous. Typically, from trying to frame the question in 1 long, garbled sentence, instead of 3 short sentences (or bullet points).
The "optional" programming exercise was highly recommended by the instructor. So, I decided to attempt it although I've never programmed seriously in C/C++ (dabbled 20 years ago). We were given a template of basically undocumented libraries to which we had to add our code. I spent 6 hours trying to set up the environment without success. So, I gave it up.
All in all, an interesting selection of topics in Distributed Computing, made somewhat troublesome by unattractive, unpolished execution.
How much it helps in architecting a Cloud (internals, not driving) or an Application that exploits state-of-the-art Cloud facilities I'm not so sure.
So, by itself I rate the course 3 stars.
Having done 4 courses in the Specialization and started the Capstone, my rating is 2 stars or possibly less.
Recommendation: Do the course for free, if you can. Don't bother about the verified certificate or the Specialization.
I plan to review the Specialization in a week or so.