Coursera and Google Launch an Online Certificate Program to Help Students Become IT Professionals & Get Attractive Jobs

If you've so much as set foot in the realm of massive online open courses (MOOCs) — a list of which we offer right here on Open Culture — you've no doubt heard of Coursera, which, since it started up in 2012, has become one of the biggest MOOC providers around. Like most growing Silicon Valley companies, Coursera has branched out in several different directions, bringing in courses from universities from all over the world as well as offering certificate and Master's programs. Now, in partnership with Google, it has launched a program to train information-technology professionals for jobs in the industry.

Techcrunch's Ingrid Lunden describes Coursera's Google IT Support Professional Certificate program as "a course written by Googlers for the Coursera platform to teach and then test across six fundamental areas of customer support: troubleshooting and customer service, networking, operating systems, system administration, automation, and security. No prior IT experience is necessary." The global, English-language program "has 64 hours of coursework in all, and students are expected to complete it in eight to 12 months, at a cost of $49/month." This means "the typical cost of the course for full-paying students will be between $392 and $588 depending on how long it takes," which Lunden calls "a pretty good deal" compared to other IT training programs.

Amid talk of vanishing jobs across so many sectors of the economy, Coursera and Google are marketing the IT Support Professional Certificate as a promising path to gainful employment: "There’s no better example of a dynamic, fast-growing field than IT support," writes Google Product Lead Natalie Van Kleef Conley, citing statistics showing 150,000 IT support jobs currently open in the United states and an average starting salary of $52,000. Coursera notes that "upon completion of the certificate, you can share your information with top employers, like Bank of America, Walmart, Sprint, GE Digital, PNC Bank, Infosys, TEKSystems, UPMC, and, of course, Google."

If you suspect that you might share professional aspirations with young Edgar Barragan of Queens, whose testimonial video shows how he became a Google IT support specialist after participating in the program that evolved into the IT Support Professional Certificate, visit the official page on Coursera. There you can read up on the details of the six courses that make up the program and read answers to the questions frequently asked about it. Do you think you'd excel in a career amid the nuts and bolts of computers? With Google and Coursera's program officially opening next Wednesday, January 24th, now's a good time indeed to figure out whether it could get you where you want to be. Get more information and/or enroll here.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Cousera courses, it helps support Open Culture.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Free Course from Princeton

Quick fyi: Earlier this month, we tried to make sense of the Bitcoin frenzy in the only we know how--by pointing you toward a free course. Specifically, we highlighted a Princeton course called Bitcoin and Currency Technologies that's being offered on the online platform Coursera. The course is based on a successful course taught on Princeton's campus. And it's worth mentioning that you can find the actual video lectures from that original campus course on Youtube. (See them embedded above, or access them directly here.) Pair the 12 lectures with the free Princeton Bitcoin textbook and you should be ready to make sense of Bitcoin ... and maybe even some of the Bitcoin hype.

For more free courses visit our collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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170+ Courses Starting at Stanford Continuing Studies This Week: Explore the Catalogue of Campus and Online Courses

Quick fyi: I spend my days at Stanford Continuing Studies, where we've developed a rich lineup of online courses, many of which will get started this week. The courses aren't free. But they're first rate, giving adult students--no matter where they live--the chance to work with dedicated teachers and students.

The catalogue includes a large number of online Creative Writing courses, covering the Novel, the Memoir, Creative Nonfiction, Food Writing, Poetry and more. For the professional, the program offers online business courses in subjects like Project Management, Business Communication, Design Thinking, Creating Startups and Value Investing. And there's a growing number of online Liberal Arts Courses too. Take for example Drawing Inspiration: Developing a Creative Practice; The Geology and Wines of California and France; and Cyber Technologies and Their World-Changing Disruptions: Election Hacking, Fake News, and Beyond.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out the larger catalogue. Stanford Continuing Studies has 170+ courses getting started this Winter quarter, many taking place in Stanford's classrooms. Here are a few on-campus courses I might recommend: Leaders Who Made the 20th CenturyJames Joyce's Ulysses, and Stanford Saturday University: 2018.

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What Actually Is Bitcoin? Princeton’s Free Course “Bitcoin and Currency Technologies” Provides Much-Needed Answers

"Don't Understand Bitcoin?" asked the headline of a recent video from Clickhole, the Onion's viral-media parody site. "This Man Will Mumble an Explanation at You." The inexplicable hilarity of the mumbling man and his 72-second explanation of Bitcoin contains, like all good humor, a solid truth: most of us don't understand Bitcoin, and the simplistic information we seek out, for all we grasp of it, might as well be delivered unintelligibly. A few years ago we featured a much clearer three-minute explanation of that best-known form of cryptocurrency here on Open Culture, but how to gain a deeper understanding of this technology that, in one form or another, so many of us will eventually use?

Consider joining "Bitcoin and Currency Technologies," a free course from Coursera taught by several professors from Princeton University, including computer scientist Arvind Narayanan, whose Princeton Bitcoin Textbook we featured last year. The eleven-week online course (classroom versions of whose lectures you can check out here) just began, but you can still easily join and learn the answers to questions like the following: "How does Bitcoin work? What makes Bitcoin different? How secure are your Bitcoins? How anonymous are Bitcoin users? What determines the price of Bitcoins? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? What might the future hold?" All of those, you'll notice, have been raised more and more often in the media lately, but seldom satisfactorily addressed.

"Real understanding of the economic issues underlying the cryptocurrency is almost nonexistent," writes Nobel-winning economist Robert J. Shiller in a recent New York Times piece on Bitcoin. "It is not just that very few people really comprehend the technology behind Bitcoin. It is that no one can attach objective probabilities to the various possible outcomes of the current Bitcoin enthusiasm." Take Princeton's course, then, and you'll pull way ahead of many others interested in Bitcoin, even allowing for all the still-unknowable unknowns that have caused such thrilling and shocking fluctuations in the digital currency's eight years of existence so far. All of it has culminated in the current craze Shiller calls "a marvelous case study in ambiguity and animal spirits," and where ambiguity and animal spirits rule, a little intellectual understanding certainly never hurts.

Enroll free in "Bitcoin and Currency Technologies" here.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The 10 Most Popular Courses on Coursera in 2017 (and 2,000 Courses You Can Take for Free in January, 2018)

Back in 2012, Coursera started offering MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) to the world at large. And they've since amassed some 28 million registered users, a catalogue of 2,000 courses, and reams of data about what people want to learn. In the waning days of December, Coursera published a list of their 1o most popular courses of 2017. (Find below, and enroll in any of these courses for free.) From this list, it drew some larger conclusions about trends in education and technology.

The list shows, writes Nikhil Sinha, Coursera's Chief Content Officer, that "cutting-edge tech skills continue to be the most sought after in online education." Artificial intelligence--encompassing Machine LearningNeural Networks and Deep Learning--topped the list of courses. Meanwhile "Blockchain has also burst onto the scene, putting Princeton’s Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency course at number five on the list." But, Sinha adds, it's "not just technology skills that are trending." The "basic learning and information-retention skills taught in our popular Learning How to Learn course are extremely sought-after by people of all ages." The same applies to the problem-solving skills taught by Stanford's Introduction to Mathematical Thinking.

You can review the Top 10 list below, and enroll in any of those regularly-offered courses. You can also find (click here) a complete list of 2,000 free MOOCs getting started in January, pick the course that appeals to you, and start some new trends in 2018.

  1. Machine Learning: A primer from Stanford University on getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.
  2. Neural Networks and Deep Learning: Building on the course above, this course will teach you to feed a computer system a lot of data, which it can then use to make decisions about other data.
  3. Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects: The most popular MOOC ever, this course developed by Dr. Barbara Oakley gives you access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines.
  4. Introduction to Mathematical Thinking: Stanford University will teach you a style of thinking that will help you think outside the box and solve real problems in the everyday world.
  5. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: From Princeton University comes a course that explains what is special about Bitcoin, and how it works at a technical level.
  6. Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python): The University of Michigan offers a course everyone should take--a primer on the basics of programming computers, using Python.
  7. Algorithms, Part I: Princeton's course covers "essential information that every serious programmer needs to know about algorithms and data structures, with emphasis on applications and scientific performance analysis of Java implementations."
  8. English for Career Development: Created by the University of Pennsylvania, this course is for non-native English speakers "interested in advancing their careers in the global marketplace." Along the way, you'll learn about the job search, application, and interview process in the U.S., and also explore your own global career path.
  9. Neural Networks for Machine Learning:  The University of Toronto gives you the chance to "learn about artificial neural networks and how they're being used for machine learning, as applied to speech and object recognition, image segmentation, modeling language and human motion, etc."
  10. Financial Markets: Created by Yale's Robert Shiller (winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics), this course offers an overview of the financial markets, which allow human society to manage risks and foster enterprise. It includes an introduction to risk management and behavioral finance principles underlying the securities, insurance, and banking industries.

Those were the top courses of 2017. Again, find a list of courses starting in January 2018 here.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Coursera. If readers enroll in certain Coursera courses, it helps support Open Culture.

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The American Revolution: A Free Course from Yale University

When you have a little time, you can drop in on a free course that revisits a seminal moment in U.S. history--the American Revolution. Taught by Yale historian Joanne Freeman, the course explores how the Revolution brought about "some remarkable transformations–converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause." You can access the 25 lectures above, or on YouTube and iTunes. Also find a syllabus for the course on this Yale web site.

"The American Revolution" will be added to our list of Free History Courses, a subset of our larger collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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Need a Last Minute Gift? Give Online Courses Created by Cultural Icons Like Annie Leibovitz, Herbie Hancock, Werner Herzog and Many More

If you're looking for a last minute gift for a thoughtful person in your life, here's one option to consider. MasterClass lets you electronically purchase online courses and give them as gifts to family members and friends. For $90, you could give the gift of a single course. (The recipient gets to choose which particular course they want to take.) Or, for $180, you can give the recipient a year-long pass to every course in the MasterClass catalogue. You can get started with the gift-giving process here. And find a list of available courses below.

  • Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography
  • Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking
  • Frank Gehry Teaches Architecture & Design
  • Samuel Jackson Teaches Acting
  • Judy Blume Teaches Writing
  • Steve Martin Teaches Comedy
  • Jane Goodall Teaches Conservation
  • Herbie Hancock Teaches Jazz
  • Garry Kasparov Teaches Chess
  • Werner Herzog Teaches Filmmaking
  • Aaron Sorkin Teaches Screenwriting
  • David Mamet Teaches Dramatic Writing
  • James Patterson Teaches Writing
  • Hans Zimmer Teaches Film Scoring
  • Thomas Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques
  • Stephen Curry Teaches Shooting, Ball-Handling, Scoring
  • Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing
  • Deadmau5 Teaches Electronic Music Production
  • Shonda Rhimes Teaches Writing for Television
  • Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design
  • Usher Teaches the Art of Performance
  • Serena Williams Teaches Tennis
  • Reba McEntire Teaches Country Music

See the full catalog here.

Note: MasterClasss and Open Culture have a partnership. If you sign up for a MasterClass course, it benefits not just you and MasterClass. It benefits Open Culture too. So consider it win-win-win.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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