In the last installment of Coursera for Your Career, “Find the Best Course for Your Professional Development and Advancement”, we walked you through the process of navigating Coursera’s course catalog to find a course that fit your professional goals. In this post, we focus on how to set yourself up for success when taking your chosen course.
Once you choose the right course to develop the job skills you need, it’s time to focus on how to maximize your course efforts into influencing your career advancement.
First, have a conversation with your boss about the course. Talk to him or her about Coursera, why you’re taking the course, its key features, and what you hope to gain from it. Describe how you choose the course, exactly what you will learn (via the posted syllabus), and how it will position you for professional advancement (e.g., a promotion, raise, or lateral move). Explain how the course ties into your professional development short and long-term plans, and how it will ultimately benefit your company.
Second, earn your Verified Certificate. By earning your Verified Certificate, you will earn a university-branded, identity-verified certificate when you complete the course. Fees for a Verified Certificate are usually $50 USD or less, but ask your employer if they will reimburse you for it (FYI - many top companies, like Mastercard, currently reimburse their employees for Verified Certificates!) Verified Certificates add credibility to accomplishments, and will strengthen and validate your motives.
Third, if possible, create a project that ties together or represents material learned. Projects are tangible artifacts to add to your portfolio, signaling what you learned and showing off your new skills. Make the projects relevant and practical to demonstrate the impact of the course, and your newly acquired competences, to your manager.
Fourth, recruit colleagues to be involved in the course as well. Recommend the course to people you work with, and if they join you, start a support team to keep yourself and each other accountable. Balancing deadlines and lectures with work responsibilities isn’t easy, but having co-workers alongside you will encourage you to finish assignments on time. Or, use your co-workers as a resource, asking them for guidance when you have questions on certain topics or areas (you might find a new mentor out of the experience!)
Follow these tips to make the most out of your Coursera experience for your professional development!
The Carlos Slim Foundation, one of Mexico’s top philanthropic organizations, is Coursera’s major partner in the Spanish-speaking world. Our partnership aims to improve access to education among Spanish speaking learners, as well as support opportunities for career development and employment throughout Latin America.
Earlier this week, August 12th, The Carlos Slim Foundation unveiled Acceso Latino, (taken from their Press Release): “a free website created to provide U.S. Latinos easy access to tools and content about education, healthcare, job training, culture and more. This site will serve as a valuable resource to help Latinos succeed in the United States.
“We’re proud to launch Acceso Latino, a completely free website that can provide Latinos access to better opportunities through education, learning English, and job training,” said Carlos Slim Helú. “Acceso Latino will put valuable knowledge at the fingertips of everyone who wants to learn new skills and engage with their community. It is a simple but powerful resource that can potentially help millions of people improve their lives.”
At over 40 million people, Latinos make up the largest ethnic minority in the United States. That’s why Acceso Latino was created: to provide a support network for this growing and developing community. Today, 80% of adult Latinos say that they are able to connect to the Internet. Yet many of them still struggle to find access to high value information that they can use to improve their lives and those of their families.
The Carlos Slim Foundation has identified a number of areas that are most associated with long- term success. Acceso Latino will provide content, free of charge and in Spanish, in each of these critical areas:
Acceso Latino displays information in an easy-to-use format on each topic, complete with videos that walk users of any skill level through a step-by-step process. Acceso Latino is a collaborative effort with organizations that work with the Latino community across the United States.
Dr. Roberto Tapia-Conyer, CEO of the Carlos Slim Foundation, explained how anyone can access the website. Dr. Tapia said. “Acceso Latino was designed with everyone in mind. No matter your nation of origin, age, level of ability, or ultimate goal, the website has something for you.”
Visit the website at accesolatino.org”
About the Carlos Slim Foundation
Created in 1986 to impact the most vulnerable populations, the Carlos Slim Foundation has directly benefited millions of people. With a marked sense of social responsibility, efficiency, and proven results, the Foundation has programs in various fields, such as education, employment, health, nutrition, social justice, culture, human development, support during natural disasters, protection and conservation of the environment, and economic development. These programs help improve the quality of life for populations of all ages, fostering the development of human capital and generating opportunities for people, their communities, and their countries.
No one wins when a modern world allows human trafficking to persist.
Human trafficking is deplorable and rampant. Unfortunately, it is not well understood. Passive observers argue that the number of trafficking victims is “inflated” and “incalculable” due to its clandestine nature.
My rebuttal is simply this: “Even ONE slave is too many!”
Unrestrained, illegal, barbaric: human trafficking forces, frauds, coerces, exploits or induces children, women and even men into selling or relinquishing their skills, bodies or body parts. Trafficking dehumanizes and victimizes by making people into objects, currency, pleasurable gadgets or machines. In an effort to expose this violation of human rights, Ohio State University is proud to offer a new course, Human Trafficking, to provide Coursera learners an opportunity to become more informed and engaged agents of desperately needed change.
Human Trafficking is a free, four-week, intensive course that examines domestic and global trafficking from both a conventional and social-work perspective. The purpose of the course is to offer and share information, and to engage in candid, thoughtful discussions related to trafficking between thousands of enrollees worldwide. The assessments are designed to test your knowledge related to the issues, and provide an opportunity to create and share an impactful Public Service Announcement (PSA)! The goal for each of us–separately and together—is to significantly increase awareness related to the epidemic of human trafficking.
As a learner in Human Trafficking, you are not simply watching a news piece passively about a child forced into becoming a sex slave, or discussing the atrocities of deadly working conditions among a group of friends. In this course, you are collaborating with a community of like-minded peers that are eager to make a change for the better. This course empowers you to join a movement in making your community and the world a better place.
Imagine: if the work accomplished in this course leads to even one person escaping victimization, it is worth it.
The course serves as a unique platform to examine human trafficking from a global perspective, discuss anti-trafficking efforts, generate solutions and serve as one prong among many in the fight to eradicate human trafficking. Ultimately, our shared goal in the anti-trafficking arena is to obliterate human trafficking—to expose it and to force the criminality of it so far underground that the system collapses from its own weight and the weight of the masses who demand justice.
Trafficking is a lose-lose situation for the victim as the trauma inflicted on trafficking victims is so potent, that even trafficking victims grow confused about whether or not they are being trafficked. Their oppression, isolation and marginalization result in long-term biopsychosocial consequences that demand the attention and help of those committed to a slave-free world.
I invite you to a global discourse on human trafficking, where not only will your personal voice be heard, but your voice will speak and fight for those who cannot do it on their own.
Seventy thousand years ago, there were at least six different human species on earth. They were insignificant animals, whose ecological impact was no greater than that of jellyfish, zebras or chickens. Today, there is only one human species left: Us. Homo sapiens. But we rule this planet.
The course, A Brief History of Humankind, takes us on a breath-taking ride through our entire human history, from its evolutionary roots to the age of capitalism and genetic engineering. It focuses on key processes that shaped humankind and the world around us, such as the advent of agriculture, the creation of money, the spread of religion and the rise of the nation state. The course invites us to question the basic narratives of our world. Its conclusions are enlightening and at times provocative. For example:
History began when humans invented gods – and will end when humans become gods.
Editor’s note from Coursera: Consider our minds expanded, Dr. Harari…
There will be almost a million unfilled information communications technology (ICT) jobs in Europe by 2020, according to the European Commission (EC). This predicted skills gap might prove a major problem for Europe’s economy.
One of the EC’s proposed solution: open online courses. They believe courses (such as the ones on Coursera) will “foster the talent of ICT and web entrepreneurs, and create new jobs that benefit both the European economy and society as a whole.”
In its research, the EC found that web and app design, Android and iOS) programming are the most sought after skills amongst employers. They also found that over a third of IT professionals consider the #1 way to learn these skills is through open online courses (even more so than traditional education or on-the-job training).
Coursera helps bridge this looming skills gap by providing courses with Verified Certificates or Specialization Certificates in areas that are highly sought-after by employers (starting at about $50 USD). So browse the course catalog today; it’s never too late to go back to school!
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A typical corporate training program for Brian Buckley, Vice President for Enterprise Architecture at Dublin-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, consists of taking time off work, flying to London and spending thousands of pounds on expenses–all for an excessively expensive program that squeezes in too much material in too short a time.
He’s not a fan.
“We just can’t do that,” he said, explaining that executives like him cannot afford this sort of a disruption to their schedule on a regular basis. He thinks corporate training, in its current form, is inflexible and antiquated.
After frustrating experiences with traditional professional development programs, Brian choose to independently take a course on Coursera. He chose Stanford University and Andrew Ng’s Machine Learning to learn about a topic important to his software job. In fact, he was in the process of negotiating contracts with companies providing machine learning services for Houghton Mifflin. Admittedly, he was not well acquainted with the nuances of machine learning, and joined the course as a way of familiarizing himself with the processes and applications each service offered. “It was very hard on those due diligence calls for me and for architects and engineers to say ‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’,” he reflects.
Brian was ultimately thrilled with the results. After the course, he saw “a much more equal dialogue with partners, which was absolutely fantastic”. Describing a particular module of the course, Buckley said, “if this was a traditional course, it would have taken at least a week…and there’s no way in the world I could have taken a whole week off.” He was impressed with the “spectacular” quality of the course, and its flexibility. Brian feels he’s proven professional training doesn’t need to be regimented and inconvenient, and Coursera is a viable alternative: “I really do think this is the future of learning”.
As a result of Machine Learning, he can look past marketing and promotional-jargon to deeply understand exactly what each service promises to provide. “I’ve had much more intelligent conversations with people when we’ve discussed relationships and the business. For me personally, I can look at their marketing, and can ask very good questions to them, and that dialogue becomes much more open.” Stanford’s Machine Learning helped him get an advantage in the deal and he was able to secure more competitive rates.
Brian is now a Coursera evangelist, promoting the platform to his colleagues and talking to different stakeholders in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to implement Coursera courses for training in other parts of the company.
Big thanks to Brian Buckley and best of luck from all Courserians!
Join University of California San Diego’s “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects”, starting August 1st.
Over 100,000 learners have already joined Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski new course, “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects”–which is not surprising, considering we are Courseraians, after all! The aim for the course is to teach people how to learn more effectively, in any type of study or topic. In the course, Professor Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute as well as a Professor at UCSD, provides up-to-the-minute perspectives from neuroscience related to learning. Professor Oakley provides far-reaching and practical insight not only from neuroscience and cognitive psychology, but from decades of practical experience teaching tough university-level courses. She notes that in this course, learners will “peep under the mental hood” and understand the way in which people process, assimilate, and ultimately learn information and gain new knowledge.
Professor Oakley’s commitment to mastering effective learning comes from her own struggles with academics. In a recent interview with Popular Science radio, Professor Oakley explained how during middle and high school, she failed math, and therefore invested her time in learning languages. Ultimately, after a stint in the US Army as a Signal Officer, she decided to take on engineering as a second bachelor’s degree to learn more about the systems she with which working with.
Her most recent book, “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science, Even if You Flunked Algebra”, draws on her own experiences in learning challenging topics. To eventually obtain her Ph.D. in Systems Engineering, she had to overcome her earlier experiences with failing math, and forced herself to develop a framework in which to succeed. Her book and the course include advice and techniques on how to study well, and–as importantly–how to avoid bad, detrimental study habits.
Below are Professor Oakley’s “10 Rules of Bad Studying”, adapted from the book. We hope apply them to your studies on Coursera!
Ten Rules of Bad Studying
Avoid these techniques—they can waste your time even while they fool you into thinking you’re learning!
- Passive rereading. Sitting passively and running your eyes back over a page. Unless you can prove that the material is moving into your brain by recalling the main ideas without looking at the page, rereading is a waste of time.
- Letting highlights overwhelm you. Highlighting your text can fool your mind into thinking you are putting something in your brain, when all you’re really doing is moving your hand. A little highlighting here and there is okay—sometimes it can be helpful in flagging important points. But if you are using highlighting as a memory tool, make sure that what you mark is also going into your brain.
- Merely glancing at a problem’s solution and thinking you know how to do it. This is one of the worst errors students make while studying. You need to be able to solve a problem step-by-step, without looking at the solution.
- Waiting until the last minute to study. Would you cram at the last minute if you were practicing for a track meet? Your brain is like a muscle—it can handle only a limited amount of exercise on one subject at a time.
- Repeatedly solving problems of the same type that you already know how to solve. If you just sit around solving similar problems during your practice, you’re not actually preparing for a test—it’s like preparing for a big basketball game by just practicing your dribbling.
- Letting study sessions with friends turn into chat sessions. Checking your problem solving with friends, and quizzing one another on what you know, can make learning more enjoyable, expose flaws in your thinking, and deepen your learning. But if your joint study sessions turn to fun before the work is done, you’re wasting your time and should find another study group.
- Neglecting to read the textbook before you start working problems. Would you dive into a pool before you knew how to swim? The textbook is your swimming instructor—it guides you toward the answers. You will flounder and waste your time if you don’t bother to read it. Before you begin to read, however, take a quick glance over the chapter or section to get a sense of what it’s about.
- Not checking with your instructors or classmates to clear up points of confusion. Professors are used to lost students coming in for guidance—it’s our job to help you. The students we worry about are the ones who don’t come in. Don’t be one of those students.
- Thinking you can learn deeply when you are being constantly distracted. Every tiny pull toward an instant message or conversation means you have less brain power to devote to learning. Every tug of interrupted attention pulls out tiny neural roots before they can grow.
- Not getting enough sleep. Your brain pieces together problem-solving techniques when you sleep, and it also practices and repeats whatever you put in mind before you go to sleep. Prolonged fatigue allows toxins to build up in the brain that disrupt the neural connections you need to think quickly and well. If you don’t get a good sleep before a test, NOTHING ELSE YOU HAVE DONE WILL MATTER.
We hope these rules will help you study better on Coursera. Join Professor’s Oakley and UCSD’s course “Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects”, starting August 1st, for more studying and learning wisdom.
Studies show that 71% of the US labor force is actively seeking or open to new a job, over 65% of American workers switch jobs every 1-5 years, and of those that stay, almost all employees want a promotion or raise. Taking a Coursera course is not only a way to learn a new skill; it’s also a great way to show that you’re self-motivated, knowledgeable, and intellectually curious. To properly showcase these characteristics, it’s essential to find exactly the right course to signal your aptitude and abilities to employers–for now and for the future.
With more than 700 courses offered across 25+ categories, the options seem endless, and making a choice can be tough. Choosing the right course specifically for professional development can be even more challenging not only because of the sheer number of options, but also because of the distinct nature of individual courses.
If professional development is your aim, when faced with this choice, it’s helpful to think about courses through the lenses of professional goals and skills.
Lens 1: Your Goals
Understanding and clarifying your career goals will help you in the decision-making process. Ask yourself: How do you want advance your career?
When browsing through the Course Catalog, answer these questions as they relate to your goals:
When the answer is yes and aligns with your end-goal, then you have probably found the right course for you (though there might be many, so let’s narrow in more!)
Lens 2: Skills You Need
Now that you’ve narrowed in on your professional goal, think about the skills to obtain or develop to attain the goal. If you know what eventual end result you want in your career, you can properly hone in on the courses that will teach you the skills you need. We host top-tier courses from the world’s best universities and educational institutions–many of which can help you reach your professional goals. Focus on skills that shows employers that you are ready for new challenges and responsibilities in the field.
If you are looking to develop….
…and beyond, Coursera is your ultimate learning resource.
It’s not only about identifying the course that will teach you the right skills; it’s also about making sure you can show employers easily and convincingly that you have those skills. When you are investigating courses, check if the course offers a Verified Certificates, or if it is part of a Specialization.
Employers value these certificates because it proves and signals acumen. During the course, see if you can create or add to your professional portfolio, as well (including completed assignments, Capstone Projects, etc.) So before clicking the “Join for Free” button, consider if this course will tangibly show employers and colleagues you’ve learned the topic by earning a Verified Certificate.
Once you understand what your professional goals are, as well as the skills you want to cultivate, you’re on the right track to finding a course that fits your needs.
We want to hear from you, and allow other Courserians to learn from your experience!
Share your story with us!
Comic Con 2014 is this week in San Diego!
If you are there basking in the celebrity appearances, or even if you skipped the conference this year, we hope the festivities inspire your own graphic art creativity. Here we list some fantastic courses to bring out the storyteller and artist in all of us:
Coursera for Your Career: 4 Courses to Build Computer Science Foundations and Advance Programming Skills
Computer scientists are some of the most in-demand professionals in today’s job market. Hundreds of thousands around the world are pursuing careers in computer science, but the field is constantly changing, where important programming languages today may lose their relevance tomorrow. Teaching computer science, and teaching it well, is a core value at Coursera (especially because our first courses were Machine Learning and Probabilistic Graphical Models).
Since then, Coursera has worked with professors at the top of their fields to offer learners the chance to acquire knowledge and skills in this fast-moving and diverse career field. Whether you’re looking to write your first line of code, build Android Apps or advance the next breakthrough in robotics, there is a class on Coursera that can help you get there.
Feature Your Verified Certificate On Your LinkedIn Profile
1. An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python, Rice University or Programming for Everybody (Python), University of Michigan
Python is the most popular coding language taught in top US universities at the introductory level, having recently overtaken Java. These two classes offer both theoretical and practical knowledge of Python, so it’s ideal for beginners. As a bonus, the Rice University course includes projects building fun games like Pong, Blackjack, and Asteroids!
Also, learning how to code won’t only land you coding-specific jobs. One of our learners, an undergraduate student in India, learned Python through Coursera. When interviewing at a consulting firm, he impressed his interviewer with his understanding of the programming language and got the job. Aspiring coders can take these courses and impress employers with both their new knowledge and problem-solving abilities.
2. Designing and Executing Information Security Strategies, University of Washington
An Information Security Analyst is one of the fastest growing and lucrative jobs in the computer science market, with the demand predicted to grow by 37% within the next eight years. Professor Mike Simmon’s course out of the University of Washington uses real-world case studies to help learners understand, design and deliver strategies for information security with a broad applicability. The course does require some prerequisite knowledge of cybersecurity and modeling.
3. Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems, University of Maryland
Mobile has become the most important and widely-used medium for accessing computing services, and Google’s Android OS has the largest smartphone foothold in the world. This course, which is the first of a Specialization, is aimed at helping learners become an Android developer. The series is a collaboration between University of Maryland and Vanderbilt University, and puts an emphasis on both software engineering as well as user experience.
4. Internet History, Technology, and Security, University of Michigan
For learners looking for a broad overview of the field, look no further than Internet History, Technology, and Security taught by one of Coursera’s most enthusiastic professors (who, fun fact, has a Coursera tattoo!).
“Dr. Chuck”, as his students call him, regularly hosts “office hours” all over the U.S. whenever he travels. He holds these sessions in local coffee shops and invites all interested students to attend. One of our learners in Shreveport, Louisiana was so inspired by Dr. Chuck’s enthusiasm for the material that he decided to go back to school after a 25-year hiatus. He will graduate this fall with an associate’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology!
We want to hear from you, and allow other Courserians to learn from your experience.
Share your story with us!