Online courses

There are so many options when it comes to online courses it’s hard to know where to start. There are 3 premier options, each with multiple offerings for a large variety of topics. These 3 are Coursera, Udacity, and EdX.

All 3 of these offer certificates for a modest fee that most HR departments will recognize, however, there are some differences between these alternatives as well. Coursera and EdX offer classes that have been developed by partner universities. Udacity offers classes that have been created with partners from business. Each of the three offer certificates for individual courses and certificates for groups of courses that constitute a more comprehensive program. These groups of courses are called different things (nanodegree, micromasters, specialization), but really amount to the same thing. The difficulty ranges from course to course in each program, and I will try to discuss particular courses in a moment. Due to its partnership with businesses Udacity is able to offer job guarantees on some of its programs. Coursera and EdX cannot do this.

PYTHON CLASSES: If you’re just getting started it’s probably a good idea to learn a little about computer science first. There are 2 options that I would recommend, and I’ll briefly discuss each of these.

The first and easiest option I’ll mention is the Coursera specialization Python for Everybody from the University of Michigan. If you need to learn the basics quickly you can start with the first and second course in this specialization. The 3rd and 4th courses are useful too because they cover web programming and database programming. The 5th course is a capstone project that gives you practice with what you’ve learned and earns you the specialization certification. Each of the courses is just 2-4 hours a week for 6 weeks.

The second option is also more advanced, but this Intro to Computer Science class counts toward a Udacity data analyst job guarantee. If you are interested in completing a full data analyst certification and don’t mind relocating, this is something you should really consider. Udacity is serious about the job guarantee it offers because they lose money if you don’t get a job when you finish. If this sounds interesting scroll down the page to find out more.

COMPUTER SCIENCE CLASS: If you’re really interested in computer science and don’t mind a challenging course, you might be interested in Harvard’s Intro to Computer Science course offered by EdX. This is more difficult than the python computer science classes, but, it’s a Harvard course. If you finish you’ll have experience with a variety of languages including C, PHP, JavaScript and SQL.

MACHINE LEARNING CLASS: There are a few good options for machine learning. The first is the most well known. It is a class from Stanford professor Andrew Ng that was one of the first two massively open online courses taught in the Fall of 2011. After teaching this course Ng founded Coursera where it is still offered. This machine learning course has now been completed by over a million people. It is a really good intro level course, that is accessible even for people without calculus and linear algebra experience.

Udacity also has some great courses on machine learning. They actually offer a nanodegree in machine learning with a job guarantee for the premium service. This course, offered by Georgia Tech, is good if you’re looking for something a little more challenging. There are also some more advanced options for those who are interested in the advanced resources area.

There are also options offered by EdX. I’m not familiar with any of these programs, but this one looks like a good basic program on machine learning for data science and analytics.