Good with Words: A Series of Writing & Editing Courses from the University of Michigan

We’ve all used words just about as long as we’ve been alive. This obvious truth, alas, has led too many of us into the delusion that we’re good with words: that we’re good speakers and, even more commonly and less justifiably, that we’re good writers. Yet anyone who’s seen or heard much of how words are used in the realms of business and academia — to say nothing of personal correspondence — does understand, on some level, the true rarity of these skills. Now, those of us who recognize the need to shore up our own skills can do so through Good with Words, a specialization in writing and editing now offered by the University of Michigan through online education platform Coursera.

Good with Words comprises individual courses on word choice and word order, structure and organization, drafting, and revising. Here to teach them is Michigan Law School Clinical Assistant Professor of Law Patrick Barry, of whose lecturing style you can get a taste in this Youtube playlist collecting clips of a writing workshop held for Michigan Law students in 2014. In the clip above, he takes on the common problem of verbal clutter, working from the definition originally laid out by On Writing Well author William Zinsser (whose ten writing tips we previously featured here on Open Culture). In other brief views, Barry touches on everything from the power of description and sentence flow to facts versus truths and zombie nouns.

In one workshop clip, Barry reminds his students that, in order to write good sentences, they must read good sentences. This point bears repeating, and indeed Barry repeats it in his Coursera course, the relevant excerpt of which you can view here. “A young writer must read,” he quotes Colum McCann declaring in the book Letters to a Young Writer. “She must read and read and read. Adventurously. Promiscuously. Unfailingly.” But taking a course as well couldn’t hurt, especially when, as with Good with Words, it can be audited for free. (Coursera also offers a paid option for students who would like to receive a certificate upon completing the specialization.) Barry offers plenty of example sentences, good and less so, but the true writers among us will never stop looking for their own, even after Good with Words‘ suggested four-month duration is over.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

A 10-Course Introduction to Data Science from Johns Hopkins

Data is now everywhere. And those who can harness data effectively stand poised to innovate and make impactful decisions. This holds true in business, medicine, healthcare, education and other spheres of life.

Enter the 10-course Introduction to Data Science from Johns Hopkins. Offered on the Coursera platform, this course sequence covers “the concepts and tools you’ll need throughout the entire data science pipeline, from asking the right kinds of questions to making inferences and publishing results.” The program includes courses covering The Data Scientist’s Toolbox, R Programming, Getting and Cleaning Data, Developing Data Products and more. There’s also a Capstone Project where students can build a data product using real-world data.

Students can formally enroll in the Introduction to Data Science specialization and receive a certificate for each course they complete–a certificate they can share with prospective employers and their professional networks. They’ll also leave with a portfolio demonstrating mastery of the material covered in the sequence. Hopkins estimates that most learners can complete the sequence in 3-7 months, during which time students will be charged $49 per month.

Alternatively, students can audit individual courses for free. When you enroll in a course, look carefully for the Audit option. Note: Auditors cannot receive a certificate for each completed course.

If would like to formally enroll in the Introduction to Data Science sequence, you can start a 7-Day Free Trial and size things up here.

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

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Google Data Analytics Certificate: 8 Courses Will Help Prepare Students for an Entry-Level Job in 6 Months

During the pandemic, Google launched a series of Career Certificates that will “prepare learners for an entry-level role in under six months.” The new career initiative includes certificates concentrating on Project Management and UX Design. And now also Data Analytics, a burgeoning field that focuses on “the collection, transformation, and organization of data in order to draw conclusions, make predictions, and drive informed decision making.”

Offered on the Coursera platform, the Data Analytics Professional Certificate consists of eight courses, including “Foundations: Data, Data, Everywhere,” “Prepare Data for Exploration,” “Data Analysis with R Programming,” and “Share Data Through the Art of Visualization.” Overall this program “includes over 180 hours of instruction and hundreds of practice-based assessments, which will help you simulate real-world data analytics scenarios that are critical for success in the workplace. The content is highly interactive and exclusively developed by Google employees with decades of experience in data analytics.”




Upon completion, students–even those who haven’t pursued a college degree–can directly apply for jobs (e.g., junior or associate data analyst, database administrator, etc.) with Google and over 130 U.S. employers, including Walmart, Best Buy, and Astreya. You can start a 7-day free trial and explore the courses here. If you continue beyond the free trial, Google/Coursera will charge $39 USD per month. That translates to about $235 after 6 months, the time estimated to complete the certificate.

Explore the Data Analytics Certificate by watching the video above. Learn more about the overall Google career certificate initiative here. And find other Google professional certificates here.

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

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MoMA’s Online Courses Let You Study Modern & Contemporary Art and Earn a Certificate

The labels “modern art” and “contemporary art” don’t easily pull apart from one another. In a strictly historical sense, the former refers to art produced in the era we call modernity, beginning in the mid-19th century. And according to its etymology, the latter refers to art produced at the same time as something else: there is art “contemporary” with, say, the Italian Renaissance, but also art “contemporary” with our own lives. You’ll have a much clearer idea of this distinction — and of what people mean when they use the relevant terms today — if you take the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization, a set of courses from the Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA) in New York.

Offered on the online education platform Coursera, the Modern and Contemporary Art and Design Specialization promises to “introduce you to the art of our time.” In its first course, Modern Art & Ideas, you’ll learn “how artists have taken inspiration from their environment and responded to social issues over the past 150 years.”




In the second, Seeing through Photographs (whose trailer appears above), you’ll explore photography “from its origins in the mid-1800s through the present.” The third, What Is Contemporary Art?, introduces works of the past four decades “ranging from 3-D-printed glass and fiber sculptures to performances in a factory.” The final course, Fashion as Design, affords the opportunity to “learn from makers working with clothing every day — and, in some cases, reinventing it for the future.”

You can view the entire Contemporary Art and Design Specialization for free, by “auditing” its courses. Alternatively, you can join the paid track, which costs $39 USD per month, which at Coursera’s suggested pace of seven months to complete (including a “hands-on project” for each course) comes out to $273 overall. Then, when you finish the specialization, you’ll “earn a Certificate that you can share with prospective employers and your professional network.” Whether you go the audit or certificate route, you’ll earn an understanding of “modern art” and “contemporary art” as they’re created and regarded here in the 21st century: the era deep into modernity in which we live, and one in which the boundaries of art itself — not just the adjectives preceding it — show no sign of ceasing to expand.

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

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

Become a Project Manager Without a College Degree with Google’s Project Management Certificate

As we first mentioned last year, Google has launched a series of Career Certificate programs that allow students to gain expertise in a field, ideally enough to start working without a 4-year college degree. This initiative now includes a Certificate in Project Management, which consists of six courses.

  • Foundations of Project Management
  • Project Initiation: Starting a Successful Project
  • Project Planning: Putting It All Together
  • Project Execution: Running the Project
  • Agile Project Management
  • Capstone: Applying Project Management in the Real World

Above, a Program Manager talks about “her path from dropping out of high school and earning a GED, joining the military, and working as a coder, to learning about program management and switching into that career track.” An introduction to the Project Management certificate appears below.

The Project Management program takes about six months to complete, and should cost about $250 in total. Students get charged $39 per month until they complete the program.

You can explore the Project Management certificate here. And find other Google career certificates in other fields–e.g. UX Design and Data Analytics–over on this page. All Google career courses are hosted on the Coursera platform.

Find more online certificate programs from an array of providers here.

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

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Introduction to Ancient Greek History: A Free Online Course by Yale Historian Donald Kagan (RIP)

Earlier this month, Yale historian Donald Kagan passed away at age 89 in Washington D.C. In their obituary, The New York Times writes:

Professor Kagan was considered among the country’s leading historians. His four-volume account of the Peloponnesian War, from 431 B.C. to 404 B.C., was hailed by the critic George Steiner as “the foremost work of history produced in North America in the 20th century.”

He was equally renowned for his classroom style, in which he peppered nuanced readings of ancient texts with references to his beloved New York Yankees and inventive, sometimes comic exercises in class participation, like having students form a hoplite phalanx to demonstrate how Greek soldiers marched into combat.

If you never sat in Kagan’s classroom, you can still experience his teaching style online. Recorded in 2007, Kagan’s course Introduction to Ancient Greek History traces “the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period.” You can watch the 24 video lectures above, or find them on YouTube. The lectures also appear on iTunes in audio and video. Find the texts used in the course below. More information about the course, including the syllabus, can be found on this Yale website.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History will be added to our collection of Free Online History courses, a subset of our collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Moralities of Everyday Life: A Free Online Course from Yale University

How can we explain kindness and cruelty? Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Why do people so often disagree about moral issues? This course from Yale University, Moralities of Everyday Life, explores the psychological foundations of our moral lives. Taught by psychology & cognitive science professor Paul Bloom, the course focuses on the origins of morality, compassion, how culture/religion influence moral thought and moral action, and beyond. If you select the “Audit” option, you can take the course for free.

Moralities of Everyday Life will be added to our collection of Free Psychology Courses, a subset of our larger collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Take 193 Free Tech and Business Courses Online at Udacity: Product Design, Programming, A.I., Marketing & More

Each of us now commands more technological power than did any human being alive in previous eras. Or rather, we potentially command it: what we can do with the technology at our fingertips — and how much money we can make with it — depends on how well we understand it. Luckily, the development of learning methods has more or less kept pace with the development of everything else we now do with computers. Take the online-education platform Udacity, which offers “nanodegree” programs in areas like programming, data science, and cybersecurity. While the nanodegrees themselves come with fees, Udacity doesn’t charge for the constituent courses: in other words, you can earn what you need to know for free.

Above you’ll find the introduction to Udacity’s Product Design course by Google (also creator of the Coursera professional-certificate programs previously featured here on Open Culture). “Designed to help you materialize your game-changing idea and transform it into a product that you can build a business around,” the course “blends theory and practice to teach you product validation, UI/UX practices, Google’s Design Sprint and the process for setting and tracking actionable metrics.”




This is a highly practical learning experience at the intersection of technology and business, as are many other of Udacity’s 193 free courses, like App MarketingApp Monetization, How to Build a Startup, and Get Your Startup Started.

If you have no particular interest in founding and running the next Google, Udacity also hosts plenty of courses that focus entirely on the workings of different branches of technology, from programming and artificial intelligence to 2D game development and 3D graphics. (In addition to the broad introductions, there are also relatively advanced courses of a much more specific focus: Developing Android Apps with Kotlin, say, or Deploying a Hadoop Cluster.) And if you’d simply like to get your foot in the door with a job in tech, consider such offerings as Refresh Your Résumé, Strengthen Your LinkedIn Network & Brand, and a variety of interview-preparation courses for jobs in data sciencemachine learning, product management, virtual-reality development, and other subfields. And however cutting-edge their work, who couldn’t another spin through good old Intro to Psychology?

Find a list of 193 Free Udacity courses here. For the next week Nanodegrees are 75% off (use code JULY75). Find more free courses in our list, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Note: Open Culture has a partnership with Udacity. If readers enroll in certain Udacity courses and programs that charge a fee, it helps support Open Culture.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, 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.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.