A little while back, I talked about what PMI NanoCertificates may look like. The post was based on Udacity’s Nanodegrees which are hyper focused courses developed with the help of industry leading companies like Google and AT&T. Most of the courses focus on web development and programming. I wanted to find the same type of hyper focused courses but which focused on topics more relevant to project managers from all over the world. What would be even better is a capstone course in each class that is directly linked to relevant industry experience and topics.
What I found were Coursera’s Specializations. Each specialization is about 16 – 20 weeks long and consists of four courses, a capstone project, and a certificate. In some cases, you may be able to work side-by-side with real world companies interested in your ideas about what you think will help them succeed and grab more market share.
There is a bit of financial investment required, usually around $500 - $700 total depending on the institution but considering the quality of the institutions providing the instruction, I think it is well worth the investment. Also it aligns wonderfully with the Project Management Institute’s Talent Triangle. They recently came out with a fantastic one page flyer to show you what topics align with the three different areas of the triangle; strategic & business management, leadership, and technical project management. Check it out!
If you are trying to learn about operational functions of a business to be more skilled in strategic & business management, then you can sign up for the Business Foundations Specialization offered by the University of Pennsylvania. If you are interested in data gathering and modeling on the technical side of project management the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign offers a specialization in Data Mining. If you struggle with leading different personalities on your project team, check out University of California at Irvine’s specialization on Conflict Management.
Coursera is a fantastic resource with institutions from almost every major continent. When you compare the specializations they offer to topics that align to each part of the Talent Triangle, Coursera may offer one of the best learning resources for project managers anywhere.
PMI is asking project managers to adapt and evolve with a profession that sometimes feels like it is moving at the speed of light. Resources like Coursera can help us keep up with the evolution and possibly travel even faster.
In order to succeed in project management, we have to become lifelong nerds. Hyper focused courses are a fantastic idea but what is even more powerful is hyper focused curiosity. I have been a slow reader most of my life. When I tried to learn how to read faster, the teacher told me the trick is not to read faster, it is to develop an unmatched level of curiosity.
To keep up with an evolving profession, we have to become more curious so we can take advantage of opportunities like Coursera’s Specializations.
Keep learning and don’t forget to have fun :)
Even though the origins of MOOCs are under debate in my opinion the idea started in Canada with the work of George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and David Cormier (shout out to all my favorite Canadian friends, you know who you are), the "Big 3" though are usually credited as being the first MOOC providers. This also started to create a stereotype that all MOOCs are just focused on North America which as you will see is definitely not the case. The following ten MOOC providers are spread all over the world which makes me so happy because the simple idea of open free education is a worldwide concept that must be shared. I created this list a little over six months ago so I am sure there are more out there but this hopefully provides you a solid beginning to find more resources that will help you grow as a project manager and servant leader with world class strategic business skills and technical skills that are second to none.
The simple beauty of this list is that is represents MOOCs in almost every major language on almost every continent. In Africa, nonprofit organizations like Generation Rwandaare taking full advantage of their internet connection to provide students opportunities that some people in America are taking for granted. Generation Rwandais providing seed funding for Kepler University. The goal there is to provide students an opportunity to live and work together while they earn a bachelor’s degree online using MOOC material accredited by U.S. and European universities. The school is based on a blended-learning modelin partnership with Southern New Hampshire Universityand will only cost $1,000/year. This is similar to Coursera’s Learning Hubswhere students have a physical classroom to access Courseramaterial alongside other peers and colleagues. Spire is a similar program in Kenya which is currently under development. Also along the same lines as Kepler Universitya business incubator and arts center built in downtown Bangalore, India is home to Jaaga. The goal is to develop computer programmers so they can jump into the job market after one year of intensive studies. Students will study MOOC content in partnership with volunteer facilitators and online mentors from around the world.
The goal of PM Nerd is to show you alternative resources where you can study and grow in your project management career. Hopefully this posts shows you that if students in Bangalore or Rwanda can use MOOC content to launch their careers, what could happen if you look beyond the standard PDU requirements and used MOOCs to design your project management career? Organizations like PMI do a great job providing us the framework to focus our efforts on leadership, strategic business, and technical skills. MOOCs then provide the resources for you to study almost any subject so you can become a more effective strategic servant leader at a very affordable rate.
If you know of any other MOOC providers not on this list, please share them in the comments.
Thank you for sharing this moment and I hope you have a fantastic day.