Let’s face it. The theory of the “path of least resistance” implies that people will generally make the least effort to get their destination, whether it be a geographic location or some tangible goal state. However, for those of you willing to make an effort checking out the courses listed here, adding to your watchlists those currently not available, the payoff can be immense — life-changing, even. Collectively, taking these courses can give you skills and ways of looking at life differently, whether for personal purposes or professional. The resulting change will help you be a better decision-maker and problem-solver, communicate more effectively, manage your time more efficiently, and on the whole, open up doors to opportunities, and so much more.
Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.
We scanned nearly 200 “interesting” courses and selected 30 to highlight, across close to a dozen categories. Each category has at least one course and as many five highlighted. As well, we’ve recommended about another two dozen courses as supplemental choices with occasional. While not all the courses are currently available, many are archived and others can be added to your watchlist on the appropriate e-learning platform. These course are are valuable whether you’re in college, have not gone (yet), or have graduated. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll become the success that you want to become — that’s mostly up to you — you will gain new perspectives and likely some IQ points.
Without learning, you have nothing. You cannot progress or improve on what you have, what you have accomplished. It’s not surprising then that there is a saying to the effect of “learning is a lifetime process.” If you accept that, then you’ll probably be happy to know that you can learn to learn. That is, there are techniques that can help you learn more efficiently
1. Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects
“Learning How to Learn; Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects” from UCSD (University of California, San Diego) is available on the Coursera platform. It explores learning techniques that to all subjects — including difficult ones. Topics include learning modes and the brain, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and unlocking your potential,
The course is currently archived and has subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Ukraininan. It is taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski. Oakley (PhD, PE, professor of engineering at Oakland University) has written a book on excelling at math. Sejnowski (PhD, physics) is the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies at UCSD and has written a dozen books and hundreds of scientific papers.
Other related courses to consider are E-learning and Digital Cultures from University of Edinburgh / Coursera and Leaders of Learning from Harvard University / HarvardX (edX).
Communication skills are arguably the most important when it comes to general career success. It’s a skill that is commonly listed as a requirement in job descriptions. Now while people may write in their resume that they have good communication skills, the facts might be different from their beliefs. If you suspect that you are one such person, or simply want to improve your ability to communicate effectively here are several courses from which to choose.
2. Think Again: How to Reason and Argue
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3. Communicating Strategically
If hiring managers at companies are right, communication skills seem to be in short supply. So even if you good communication skills or just think you do, your ability to communicate effectively can be improved with a course like Communicating Strategically, from Purdue University / PurdueX, and especially aimed at professionals, scientists and engineers. The course covers reviewing your communications skills, understanding the value of communication, gaining confidence in your communication abilities, and bridging the communication gap between yourself and the people you must communicate with.
The course, which has archived content, is taught by Dr. Bart Collins and Dr. Melanie Morgan. Collins Director of the Online Master of Science Program in Strategic Communication for the Brian Lamb School of Communication, and has experience across multiple industries. Morgan is an associate professor at the same school, and is Director of Graduate Studies.
If you are interested in a deeper study of communication, University of Amsterdam offers the course Introduction to Communication Science through Coursera. It delves into theories, models and concepts in mass, interpersonal and intrapersonal communication.
4. Framing: Learn How to Debate and Create Powerful Messages
Whether you are pursuing a leadership role or not, debate skills can give you benefits such as confidence, which builds charisma. Of course there is the ability to win debates with solid arguments, which might come in handy depending on your career. The course Framing: Learn How to Debate and Create Powerful Messages, from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) / DelftX covers framing and reframing arguments, models, framing games, the study of videos of politicians for analysis, and how to win a debate.
The course, which had an active session at time of writing, is taught in English by Hans de Bruijn, Jet Pagnier and Bauke Steenhuisen – all of TU Delft. De Bruijn is a professor of Public Administration and has written severals boks on related topics. Pagnier has an MA in Cultural Anthropology, has taken acting classes, and has an acting career in Europe. Steenhuisen is an assistant professor in Research Group Policy, Organization, Law & Gaming. He won a TEDxDelft Award for winning an argument on why to write poetry.
5. Writing II – Rhetorical Composing
You’ve probably heard someone say “that was a rhetorical question,” when voicing a query yet not really expecting an answer because they were considering a theoretical situation. It’s the statement (written or verbal) that is more important, not any answer. The course Writing II: Rhetorical Composing from Ohio State University via Coursera focuses entirely on rhetorics – thinking, responding, arguing, seeing, researching and revising rhetorically.
The course is taught by Susan Delagrange, Scott Lloyd DeWitt et al, all professors/ associate professors at Ohio State. A supplemental course is First-Year Composition 2.0 from Georgia Institute of Technology (GATech) through Coursera, which covers written, visual and oral communication, rhetoric, critical thinking and digital media. While neither course had an active session (nor archived content) at time of writing, you can put both of on your watchlist.
6. The Bilingual Brain
Arguably one of the best ways to “hack” your mind is to learn another language than the one you were born into. Recent research shows that there are extensive benefits to being bilingual or even multilingual, which negates the attitudes of the past that suggested bilingualism was detrimental, especially to childhood learning. In general, learning another language gives you a different perspective on life. The course The Bilingual Brain, from University of Houston / Coursera, looks at how our human brain handles dealing in two languages, and focuses topics around the age of acquisition (of a second language), proficiency and control.
The course, which has archived content, is taught by Arturo E. Hernandez (PhD, Cognitive Science and Psychology) of U of Houston, a professor of psychology and Director of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience graduate program. While the course covers case studies about language acquisition, it is not a “learn language X” course. If you want to the concepts of this course to the test, consider learning Chinese — quite possibly one of the hardest languages, phonetically, for a native English speaker to learn. The course Chinese for Beginners from Peking University / Coursera focuses on providing a basic understanding of the Mandarin language – suitable for a casual visitor.
No matter our current level of success in life, we all have exactly the same number of hours in a day, week, month and year. Some people learn to use time more productively, others let the stress of life take them and waste time — a valuable resource that once gone is forever lost, failing the invention of a functioning time machine.
7. Work Smarter, Not Harder
The course Work Smarter, Not Harder: Time Management for Personal & Professional Productivity, from University of California Irvine / Coursera, looks at techniques, tools and methods for developing productivity in career and personal life. Topics include goal setting, task prioritization, scheduling and delegation and overall smart work habits.
The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Margaret Meloni (MBA), an instructor at UC Irvine, a certified PMP (Project Management Professional), and president of Meloni Coaching Solutions. She has contributed to the book “101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career,” writes articles for a project management magazines and is a blogger.
8. Becoming a Resilient Person
Survey the hidden dialogue on your favorite social media network and if you can read between the lines, you’ll likely notice that more and more people seem to be getting stressed. Fortunately, there is the course Becoming a Resilient Person – The Science of Stress Management, from University of Washington / UWashingtonX. Topics include understanding why humans get stressed, differentiating between values and goals, mindfulness and positivity, practicing gratitude to manage negativity, and enhancing your mental and physical health. The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Dr. Clayton Cook. Cook is an assistant professor in the College of Education at U of Washington, a licensed psychologist, and a writer and author.
Negotiation, Persuasion and Conflict Resolution
Whether you are looking to gain a tangible, wished-for object or a career advantage, negotiation and persuasion skills can go a long way towards acquisition The following threee courses cover either or both topics.
9. The Art of Negotiation
The course The Art of Negotiation from UC Irvine / Coursera focuses on negotiation. Topics include what negotiation is; strategy, tactics and processes; types of negotiation relationships; personal and behavioral characteristics of effective negotiators; empowerment, power and authority and their effect on negotiation and more.
The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Sue Robins (MS Ed). Robins is an instructor at UC Irvine and has extensive experience as a teacher, trainer, and workshop speaker. She is owner of Ascend Training Solutions, a company that develops employee training programs.
10. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills
The course Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills from University of Michigan / Coursera, like the previous course, also focuses entirely on negotiation. Specifically, it focuses on the four key stages of negotiation (planning, negotiating, creating a contract, performing the contract), negotiation analysis, ethics guidelines, sources of power and increasing them, psychological tools and traps.
The course, which is currently archived, is taught be George Seidel. Sediel is the Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration and Thurnau Professor of Business Law at U of Michigan. He has spent time in various “visiting” capacities (professsor, scholar, fellow) at Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Cambridge University. Seidel has also won a number of research and writing awards.
11. Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
The course Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Macquarie University / Open2Study covers negotiation and conflict resolution, as the title might suggest. Topics include thinking like a negotiator, the five phases of negotiation, conflict resolution theory and practice, and communication skills.
The course, which had an active session at time of writing, is taught by Dr. Andrew Heys. Heys is a lecturer at MGSM (Maquarie Graduate School of Management) / Macquarie University and a management consultant who focuses on development and training for organizations. He teaches a Negotiation course in the MGSM MBA program.
For any of the three courses above, consider the course Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato, from National University of Singapore / Coursera, which is a look at moral theory, moral psychology and the philosophy behind Plato’s three dialogues, and which points out that reason and persuasion go together..
Pyschology and Behavior
The previous category highlighted courses in negotiation and persuasion, but knowing how other people think is one of the greatest advantages that you can have. If you understand what and why they think as they do, or can predict how they might behave, you probably know more about them than they do. Having this advantage makes it easier to negotiate and persuade.
12. The Science of Happiness
Happiness. Most of us want it, some of us have achieved it, others struggle with it. This MOOC from UC Berkeley / BerkeleyX claims to be the first teach positive psychology, going so far as to be titled the Science of Happiness. Topics include social connections and contributing to a cause and their role in happiness; cross-disciplinary research into psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology; how habits and activities affect happiness; mindfulness, empathy, and gratitude. Renowned experts in these topics are guests in the lectures.
The course, which has archived content, is taught by Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, both of UC Berkeley. Keltner is a professor of psychology, founding director of Greater Good Science Center (GGSC), author of the bestselling book Born to be Good and two textbooks, a co-editor of an anthology, writer of over a hundred scientific papers, and winner of several research and teaching awards. Simon-Thomas is science director at GGSC and has presented a talk on the science of happiness and compassion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
13. How to Read a Mind
Ever wanted to know what someone was thinking? The University of Nottingham‘s free course How to Read a Mind, via FutureLearn, may help you. The course actually applies to fictional minds (characters in literature) and in fact is a study of “cognitive poetics.” It focuses on why we feel emotion for fictional characters; however, it may be of use to you in your daily life as well.
The course, which is currently unavailable, is part of a “How to Read” series that includes How to Read Your Boss. It is taught by Professor Peter Stockwell, a researcher in cognition, linguistics and literature. If you are interested in digging deeper into the human mind, on the scientific aspects of behavior, cocnsider the course Good Brain, Bad Brain: Basics, from the University of Birmingham / FutureLearn, which gets into neuroscience and can give you a better understanding of how your brain works.
14. Social Psychology
If you are interested in a broad look at human behavior, the course Social Pyschology, from Wesleyan University / Coursera, looks at why people do what they do. Topics include why we like or dislike someone, how prejudices develop, group behavior, personal attraction, persuasion, health and well-being and more.
This course, which the Coursera profile pages says is the platform’s largest, has archived material that is only available until Jun 1, 2015, despite its popularity. (So if you are interested, check it out as soon as possible.) Subtitles are available numerous languages and the course is taught by Scott Plous (PhD, psychology), wiht a variety of guest experts. Plous is a professor of psychology at Wesleyan, and teaches intro and advanced courses on social psychology. He has earned several awards, including for his textbook The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making, and for his teaching. He is also the Executive Director of the non-profit organization Social Psychology Network, dedicated to peace and social justice, amongst other goals.
15. The Mind is Flat
What shapes human behavior? The University of Warwick / FutureLearn explores this in the course The Mind is Flat: The Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology. Topics include how to make better career and private decisions, the psychology of ethical and political choices, the origins of human rationality and irrationality, the illusion of mental depth.
The course, which is currently unavailable, is taught by Nick Chater. Chater is a researcher with over 200 publications, multiple awards for research, and co-hosts the British radio series The Human Zoo.
16. Big Data and Social Physics
Social physics goes beyond social psychology, to devise models of how networks of people behave, as well as analyzing available “big data.” The MOOC Big Data and Social Physics, from MIT / MITx, explores the quantitative science of social physis and looks at how big data can be used to improve cities and government, as well as companies, while also respecting privacy.
The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Alex Pentland. Pentland is director of MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and Media Lab Entpreneurship program, sits on boards for Google and other companies, and co-leads the Big Data and Personal Data initiatives of the World Economic Forum. He was named one of seven most powerful data scientists in 2012 by Forbes magazine, is a highly-cited computational scientist and has contributed to wearable computing (Google Glass), modern biometrics, and other fields. His research work has been featured on various TV programs, and has written a number of books including “Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread—The Lessons from a New Science” (The Penguin Press).
A supplemental course for any of the five above to keep on your mental watchlist, so to speak, is Professor Dan Ariely’s popular A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior from Duke University / Coursera. It is not currently available, nor does it have a Coursera profile page. However, both Ariely’s personal story and the course are interesting. The course has a book bundle avialable for various digital reader devices/ software.
Critical Thinking, Reasoning, Decision-Making and Problem-Solving
17. Critical Reasoning for Beginners
Critical reasoning goes hand in hand with arguments and persuasion. University of Oxford Podcasts offers Critical Reasoning for Beginners. The course’s archived content is available in text (PDF), iTunes Audio and iTunes Video, with a total of seven podcast episodes focusing on the nature of arguments, types of arguments, identifying and analyzing arguments, determining what is a good argument, evaluating arguments are more. The course is taught by Marianne Talbot, director of studies in philosophy in Oxford’s Continuing Education department, and host of two highly-consumed iTunes U podcasts.
18. Unlocking the Immunity to Change
Want to achieve a personal goal but are not making any progress? Many of us have an immunity to change, and the course Unlocking the Immunity to Change: A New Approach to Personal Improvement,
from Harvard University / HarvardX, seeks to change that. The Immunity-to-Change process was listed on Oprah Winfrey’s 2011 Top Ten Things You Should list. Course topics include: a model of change (Immunity to Change process); identifying a self-improvement goal; completing an Immunity to Change map; self-reflection exercises; and overturning your “psychic immune system.”
The course is archived but enrollment is currently closed. However, some course materials can still be accessed. It is taught by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. Kegan is the William and Miriam Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and has written several books. Lahey teaches executive development program at Harvard and Notre Dame, and is Co-director of consulting firm Minds At Work.
19. Creative Problem Solving
Creativity is associated with the proverbial “thinking outside of the box” behavior that many of us wish we could do more often. The “Creative Problem Solving” course from University of Minnesota / Coursera looks at developing creativity, creativity models and theories, creativity and motivation, divergent thinking, escaping your comfort zone, creative methods such as mind mapping, observation, and developing multiple ideas for problem solving.
The course, which is currently unavailable and unarchived, is taught by Brad Hokanson, PhD (instructional technology). Hokanson is a professor of graphic design and Associate Dean for Research and Outreach, in the College of Design at U of M – where he has taught a cousre on Creative Problem Solving for close to 15 years. In addition to receiving multiple teaching awards, he is a registered architect and a published writer of journal articles.
20. Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making
Problem-solving is a valuable skills that are often not developed simply because people do not realize that courses such as Effective Problem-Solving and Decision-Making, from University of California, Irvine / Coursera, are available. Topics include critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, positive inqury, diagramming techniques, decision making methods, control charts and implementing decisions.
The course, which is currently archived, is taught by Rob Stone, M.Ed. Stone is an instructor at Irvine and a certified PMP (Project Management Professional) with Six Sigma certification.
Supplemental courses to consider are Logic and Critical Thinking from Saylor Foundation / Saylor.org Academy, and Critical Thinking in Global Challenges from University of Edinburgh / Coursera.
21. Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World
Decision-making is something many of do daily — whether something frivolous and relevant only to us, or something significant that can impact many people. The University of Gronigen / FutureLearn offers the course Decision Making in a Complex and Uncertain World, a course on how to make decisions, especially for leadership and entrepreneurship. Topics include the principles of complexity and uncertainty, tools and methods, graph theory and networks, emergent behavior, agent-based modeling, evolutionary dynamics, cellular automata and self-organization, complexity in history, heuristics and biases, and more. Guest lecturers will be part of the course, and there are two case studies – one on financial stability and crises, the other on the growth and development of cities.
The course (currently unavailable; register interest) is taught by Lex Hoogduin. Hoogduin is a professor in Complexity and Uncertainty at Groningen and was an advisor to the first president of the European Central Bank.
Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Leadership
If you learn all these new skills and ways of thinking, above, and develop your abilities, yet stay in a shell never applying what you’ve gained, then what good is the effort? While not everyone is going to suddenly become an entrepreneur or a business/ society leader, everyone can take opportunities to innovate in most of what they do. The following group of courses deal with entrepreneurship and leadership, as well as innovation, which can be practiced even if you are not an entrepreneur or leader.
22. Creativity, Innovation and Change
When you think of creativity, you might think of artistics endeavors, but it is also applicable to business and entrpreneurship. The Pennsylvania State University / Coursera offers the popular course Creativity, Innovation and Change. Topics include creative diversity, intelligent fast failure, CENTER principles, the paradox of structure,creative myths, defining value creation and generating strategies, the idea canvas, seeds of change, and becoming an agent of change.
The course, which covers around two dozen diverse subject categories, had over 130,000 registered users in 2013, but is currently unavailable and unarchived — so add it to your Coursera watchlist. It is taught by Dr. Kathryn W. Jablokow, Dr. Darrell Velegol, Dr. Jack V. Matson and Professor Elizabeth Kisenwether, all at Penn State. Collectively, they have won various awards for research and/or innovation.
23. Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship
Being entrepreneurial does not necessarily require innovation, but it’s a definite advantage. Innovation, and identifying and developing great ideas is the central focus of the course Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship, from University of Maryland, College Park (UMD/UMCP) / Coursera. Topics include entrepreneursial perspective; entrepreneurial mindset, motivation and behavior; industry understanding (knowledge conditions, demand conditions, industry lifecycle, etc.); and customer understanding and business models.
The course is part of the Entrepreneurship: Launching an Innovative Business specialization from UMD / Coursera — whose other courses are supplemental to this course. As of Oct 2014, this course was the #1 entrepreneurship and #3 business course on Coursera. There are archives from 2015 sessions, and an active session was running at time of writing. It is taught by Dr. James V. Green of UMD. Green is the Director of Entrepreneurship Education and the lead in the education activities of Mtech (Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute). He has won awards for entrepreneurship education, and is the author of “The Opportunity Analysis Canvas,” published by Venture Artisans Press (2013).
24. U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self
Have you ever wanted to be an innovator? The course “U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self” from MIT / MITx focuses on creating profound innovation. Topics include self-reflection, mindfulness practice, applying tools, transformative practices — all applied to business, government and civil society leadership.
The course, which has archived content, is taught by Otto Scharmer (MIT), etc al, Scharmer has written several books, including one on Theory U, a framework / methodology upon which much of this course’s content is based. He is the co-founder of Global Wellbeing Lab. Consider supplementing this course with Innovation and Commercialization from MIT / MITx, taught by Eugene Fitzgerald, Andreas Wankerl and Arne Hessenbruch.
25. Essentials of Entrepreneurship
If you are looking for the basics of being an entrepreneur and starting a business, consider the course Essentials of Entrepreneurship: Thinking & Action, from UC Irvine / Coursera, which focuses on key entrepreneurial characteristics and competency solutions. Topics include the process of entrepreneurship, risk and uncertainty, feasibility studies, financial equations, entrepreneurial skills and tools, marketing strategy, human resources and operations, starting a business, accounting, systems and technology, and more.
The course, which has archived content, is taught by David Standen (MBA). Standen is a business professor and entrepreneur. In addition to being part of a team that designed and launched reputedly the world’s first online MBA, he has developed numerous business plans and raised millions of dollars in startup funding for clients. His profile also indicates that he is a PhD candidate in Business Administration.
Supplemental courses for any of the above include: Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence from Case Western Reserve / Coursera and Inclusive Leadership Training: Becoming a Successful Leader from CatalystX.
Game Theory and Strategy
Game theory is, in a nutshell, the study of various systems in real life, with rules and roles, and the probabilities that one or a sequence of actions will achieve various outcomes. Game theory is an essential part of strategy, be it in life, business, war or diplomacy.
Gamification is a relatively new field where by game theory and game playing are applied to various processes to entice new customers / users/ students and to enhance the experience in a playful way. Gamification can be applied to education, marketing, and more. This is the focus of the course Gamification
from University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Wharton School of Business (Wharton) / Coursera. Topics include game thinking, game elements, psychology and motivation, gamification design framework, design choices, enterprise gamification, social good and behavior change, critiques and risks and more.
The course, which is not currently in session, is taught by Kevin Werbach of UPenn. Werbach is an associate professor in Legal Studies and Business Ethics and created this MOOC. He is the founder of Supernova Group, a tech consulting company, and has served as an advisor to various government agencies. He has been award the title of first Iron Prof for a presentation connecting the online role-playing game Warcraft to real-world skills. He has co-authored a book on using gamification / game thinking to revolutionize business.
Wharton also offers a number of free MBA-level courses on Coursera. If you’re looking for more gamification courses, check out Gamification Design from iversity, which had an active session at time of writing.
27. Competitive Strategy
The next step after game theory / gamification is to have a strategy. The Competitive Strategy course from Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) / Coursera. Topics include simultaneous and sequential game theories, eliminating dominating strategies, Nash equilibrium, Prisoner’s Dilemma, backward induction, credible threats, and taking care of your competitors.
The course, which is archived, is taught by Tobias Kretschmer. Kretschmer (PhD economics; MSc strategy) is a professor at LMU’s Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization. He also teaches the followup course, Advanced Competitive Strategy. Both courses have Chinese language versions.
Modeling, Mathematics, Statistics and Data Analysis
If you really want to channel your inner geek, modeling, mathematics, statistics and data analysis/ data science can give you a much a deeper understanding of much of the processes you will encounter in life.
28. Model Thinking
Models are a structured way to view the world. They provide a visual, structural and/or mathematical way to represent concepts,phenomena, data, and processes. The course Model Thinking from University of Michigan (UMich) / Coursera focuses on to think with models to makes sense of the world. The course has 20 sections, a few of which include Why Model?, Decision Models, Models of People: Thinking Electrons, Tipping Points, Economic Growth, Diversity and Innovation, Coordination and Culture, Networks, Randomness and Random Walks, The Colonel Blotto Game, The Prisoners’ Dilemma and Collective Action, and The Many Model Thinker: Diversity and Prediction. Each section covers several topics, and the course’s recommended background is basic algebra and at least the derivatives part of calculus.
The course, which has two sessions in 2015, has subtitles in Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese and Russian. It is taught by Scott E. Page of UMich. Page is the Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science and Economics at UMich. He is Director of the Center for the Study of Complex systems, has won teaching awards, and is published in various social sciences topics.
Theoretical models are fine but to simulate them typical requires a computer and some programming. If you’re interested in the non-programming facet of computer programming, that is, Logic, two courses that may be useful are Logic: Language and Information 1 and Logic: Language and Information 2 from University of Melbourne / Coursera. If you actually run simulations and collect a lot of data, you sometimes need metadata — or data about data, which helps provide structure. A supplemental course is Metadata: Organizing and Discovering Information from University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill / Coursera.
29. Effective Thinking Through Mathematics
Effective Thinking Through Mathematics from University of Texas at Austin / UTAustinX focuses on using puzzles and mathematics to learn effective thinking. Topics include mathematical ideas, applying effective strategies of thinking in a fun manner.
The course, which is archived, is taught by Michael Starbird, Donna K. Kidwell and Angela Torres Camarena. Starbird is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics at UT Austin and has won several teaching awards. Kidwell (PhD, business/ management) led a team that developed an online course to educate global innovators. Camarena is a director and a filmmaker whose films have won awards and appeared in international film festivals such as Cannes.
Supplemental courses include Introduction to Mathematical Thinking from Stanford University / Coursera, which tries to teach the cognitive process used by mathematicians. Another gentle and creative introduction to mathematical thinking for problem solving is in the course Street Fighting Math from MIT / MITx, which looks at problem-solving by guessing at answers instead of using exact calculation, and the use of six reasoning tools: dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, pictorial reasoning, taking out the big part, and analogy.
30. Introduction to Statistics: Descriptive Statistics
Introduction to Statistics: Descriptive Statistics from University of California, Berkeley / UC BerkeleyX focuses on an intro to descriptive statistics for the purposes of critical thinking and communication. Topics include the fundamental concepts and methods of statistics, interpreting graphical and numerical summaries of data, and understanding the reasoning behind statistical calculations.
The course, which is archived, is taught by Ani Adhikari (PhD, statistics) and Philip B. Stark (PhD), both of UC Berkeley.
Adhikhari is a senior lecturer in statistics and has won a number of teaching awards. Stark is a professor of statistics and helped develop the first online course offered by UC Berkeley.
Supplemental course choices are numerous:
- I “Heart” Stats: Learning to Love Statistics from University of Notre Dame / NotreDameX.
- Statistics – Making Sense of Data from University of Toronto / Courera.
- Data Analysis and Statistical Inference from Duke University / Coursera.
- Big Data for Better Performance from Open2Study.
- Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization from Knight Foundation.