Did you know that top researchers and universties from all over the world offer their knowledge in structured and partly certified online courses? Well now you know! Those coures are refered to as MOOC which stands for “Massive Open Online Courses” and is for me one of THE digital discoveries of the year 2013. The three biggest platforms are currently edX, coursera and Udacity. I am following courses on all of those three and I really sometimes can’t believe how awesome this opportunity is.
Verified Certificate hot off the press
Now today I finally got my, yes, verified certificate for a coursera course on “Social Network Analysis” by Lada Adamic from University of Michigan. I am not big fan of those official records stating your skills squeezed into a one dimensional grading concept. I believe in transparency of skills regarding their application – which is essentially what this web-site is about. So be prepared for advanced network stuff on here in the future! But still it feels good to finish a months long studying period with something you have in black and white. The “verified” by the way means that you have to authenticate before you can submit anything that is graded in the end – like the weekly assignments and the exam. This feature is referred to as Signiture Track and not offered by all courses. It costs a few bucks but I think it is worth it because it increases the trustworthiness.
Social Network Analysis by Lada Adamic
Attending SNA for more than two months was a great experience during which I could extend my knowledge in graph theory and its applications using R’s igraph package, Gephi – which is great for visualizing and playing around with networks – and also NetLogo for simulating and visualizing network dynamics.
During the course one had to attend weekly lectures provided as videos and further readings. The information presented in there was then put to the test through weekly assignments (pencil and paper style, as well as programming tasks) and a final exam – all graded. If you succeeded to pass a given threshold, you are granted the certificate in the end. To get your hands dirty one also had to realize a project which was evaluated using a peer review process. I chose a small project about how words form a network when you connect all words with a specified maximum Levenshtein distance – I kept it simple and restricted the connections to words with a Levenshtein distance of 1. I won’t discuss this project here because I don’t think it is awesome enough but the graphs look pretty pretty and it was just right to tinker around with the newly gained skill set. But if you insist – the project is available on GitHub and its summary as a PDF.
I close with a big thank you to Lada Adamic, the professor of the course, and her team for offering this great opportunity!