Saturday, May 16, 2015

I Took a Coursera Course…and I Finished It. Seriously.

Hey, guess what? I just completed a Coursera course. Seriously.

When I enrolled in the course I had the following thoughts. This time, I thought:
  • To hell with low completion rates.
  • To hell with my busy schedule.
  • I want to learn something on this topic.
  • And I want to see if I can complete this course, also for the sake of completing it.

“So,” I said to myself. "I am going to complete this Coursera course."

The course is offered by Northwestern University and is called: Content Strategy for Professionals 1: Engaging Audiences for Your Organization. As it turns out, this course is part of a 3-part specialization called “Content Strategy for Professionals in Organizations.” I am considering taking all three courses. There is a Capstone project in course 3 of the specialization that interested me as an exercise, but I imagine it would be a lot of work.

I am considering it. But I am not quite certain it is worth the money for a verified certificate.

Brief Description of the Course

It is a 6-week course that had several requirements that included:
  • Spending 2-4 hours per week (pretty steep considering my schedule)
  • Watching video lectures each week
  • Participating in discussion forums by topic each week
  • Completing an assignment and peer reviewing the assignment of 3 other students
 The topics in the course are very relevant to my new marketing role as ServiceRocket as head of content, so I do have a particular interest. We intend to change how B2B marketing is done, with an extreme focus on educating and entertaining buyers.

There Was Also a MeetUp

The course hosted a live meet up at Coursera office in Mountain View, which I found very cool. But the MeetUp was at the same time I was on vacation in April in Lake Tahoe. So I chose vacation. See:

Bill Cushard Skiing Squaw Valley

My Impressions

It started off rocky. Actually, I started late. I did not even log into the course until the end of week 2. I was very busy at work and home and did not have much extra time to spend in a MOOC. But I took a mini-vacation in mid-April and early in the mornings that first weekend, I logged in and started to catch up. By the end of my vacation I had caught up with the videos and most of the readings through week 3.

Whew.

The Discussion Forums Were Not Valuable

When you start a MOOC late, the discussion forums feel overwhelming. There were dozens of topics and scores of posts, and there did not seem to be any official discussion questions, but a free-for-all of people starting their own topics for very little thing. Many, it seemed, of the comments were light-weight, low-value support questions about the course.

I did not participate in any of the discussions, which is saying something because I am a huge fan of social learning and have written extensively about it, participated in it, and even implemented social learning projects in organizations.

The Lecture Videos and Readings Were Valuable

I enjoyed the lecture videos and found them a good use of time. They covered valuable, relevant content and gave e great ideas for how to structure and deliver content marketing services in my work.

The course offered downloads from several chapters from the text book, “Medill on Media Engagement.” I read two of the chapters, and used one chapter in particular to complete the assignment part about writing buyer personas and appealing content to a specific persona characteristic.

I have saved those chapters and believe I would use them as resources in my work. 

Final Thoughts

Overall, despite starting the course two weeks late, I caught up and found the experience enriching. I did learn some valuable things…things I will apply directly to my work, which is a huge bonus.

I would classify taking a Coursera course, or any other MOOC for that matter, with reading a book. If you want to learn something, you need to make the time and go through the steps of consuming the content, internalizing the content, and then putting it to work somehow, if applicable.




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