New features on Accredible: More Course Providers, Improved Course Finder and more!

Computer knowledge

At Accredible, we are constantly listening to your suggestions and improving the site. Here are the latest!

More Course Providers

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.20.44 PMCanvas provides mostly free classes from a wide variety of universities and subjects, including one on the World Cup and integrating data into journalism. Some classes are self-paced, while others have fixed start and end dates.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.24.03 PMOpenLearning provides lots of tools for students to aid them with their learning. From a personal blog upon sign-up to real-time data on how many students are enrolled in each class, the students are at the center. In addition, a “karma” system encourages forum and class participation.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.39.51 PMCodeschool provides programming courses in Ruby, iOS, Javascript and HTML/CSS. Their short courses include R, Git, Chrome DevTools and the Google Drive API. Get access to all their courses for just $29/month, or access the short courses for free.

More Course Details

  • In the Course Finder:
    • Sort courses by language, popularity and start date (in addition to the usual provider and subject)
  • On individual Course Pages:
    • Different information depending on the course
    • Recommended additional courses
    • Review courses (with a 5 star metric and a comment box)

 

In-Browser VideosScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 4.27.43 PM

In the Course Finder, when you click on a video, a pop-up window appears, making it easier than ever to see if you’re interested in a course without having to leave the Finder. This also happens on specific Course Pages.

 

Check out the new features on Accredible, and if you have a feature in mind that you’d like to see, let us know here!

MOOC News and Views Roundup (Week of 6/16-6/23)

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Welcome to the first installation on our “news and views” weekly roundup of MOOC news and happenings. On the menu today: training programs, the World Cup, and the Kindle Fire.

Training Programs

Udacity announced “nanodegrees“, which are year-long CS programs made up of Udacity courses and mentorship. What makes these unique is that the programs have been built in collaboration with technology companies, and as a result, they will recognize the resulting degrees.

Singapore has developed a training program based on a series of Data Science classes from John Hopkins University on Coursera. The specialization consists of 9 four-week courses and a Capstone Project. Meetups will be available to facilitate in-person interaction and spontaneous group learning, and a Verified certificate will be issued to anyone who completes the requirements.

New Courses

Udacity added another mini-course to its collection, bringing the total to 2: Make your own 2048 Game and Website Performance Optimization. Each consisting of 2-3 lessons, these are great courses to get started with if you’re new to programming. There are no prerequisites for the 2048 class, and for the Optimization one you only need to be able to read and write HTML, and know what CSS and Javascript are. Learn more about them here.

The World Cup has everyone in a soccer frenzy, madly cheering for their team in hopes of a win. If you need a more, shall we say, intellectual break from all the sports, head on over to the Canvas MOOC called “Mega Events: Inside the FIFA World Cup”. Taught by an urban planning professor, you can learn about the economic effects of hosting the event and every facet of the World Cup – political, historical, cultural, and more.

News

Starbucks announced a partnership with Arizona State University that will enable workers will be able to take ASU online classes for free or reduced tuition. As 70% of Starbucks employees are either current or aspiring students and 37 million Americans who start but don’t finish a degree, this program clearly has potential to help lots of students.

Coursera has released a Kindle Fire app. After seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to their iOS and Android apps, this new app includes all the standard features – browse and enroll in courses, watch and download videos, and view video subtitles, just to name a few.

What is Team Accredible learning?

Interested in startups? Then these two courses are must-take. How to Build a Startup and The Design of Everyday Things, both offered by Udacity, offer unconventional takes on designing companies. Check out engineering intern Joey’s review of them here.

The year is half-way over; how have you done on your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more? If you’re anything like me, you know you could do better but just need a little extra motivation. What better way to help accomplish your goals than by learning the science, psychology, economics, and more behind why you should be healthier. 8 MOOCs, all either recently started or self-paced, offer just that. Check out these 4 on personal health, and these 4 on global health.

Ever wanted to know (part of) the secret behind Foursquare and Khan Academy’s addictiveness? Gamification is your answer, and the OpenLearning course will teach you everything to know about it. If you’re hesitant about joining, however, our blog manager, Elizabeth, is blogging each week with the course. Check out the first week right here and let her know in the comments if you end up joining it!

New Features

Accredible has recently unveiled some new features, including video pop-up previews, customized info on course pages, and support for three more course providers. Head on over to the Course Finder to see them in action!

Learning Hacks

Battle procrastination with 3 killer tips and make MOOCs shine on your resume, and make your Accredible profile stand out.

Have a learning tip you think others might find useful? Tweet it to us and you could be featured in the next News & Views Roundup!

 

Happy Learning,

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MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the answer for the SMB? Part One

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MOOC

Pronunciation: /mo͞ok/ NOUN
  • A course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people:anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up

SMBs can face many challenges.  Creating business plans. Entering the world of Social Media.  Actually leaving work at the end of the business day.

Often times, those challenges are HR based.  Recruitment.  Retention.  Training & Development. Termination.  Each of those challenges are expensive, time consuming but extremely valuable.  What is a SMB owner to do?  We will be reviewing each of these challenges over the next week in this series on MOOCs and the SMB: Are MOOCs the Answer?

Determine your Target Audience

One key element for success would be identifying your target group of potential employees.  Are your available positions internships or entry level?  Are you a start up company?  Do you need employees with the most up to date education and training?  If so, you are looking for a Gen Y worker.  Which is great – because they are looking for you!

Most of Gen Y isn’t working for large companies. The highest concentration of Gen Y workers are at small companies with less than 100 employees (47%), followed by medium companies that have between 100 and no more than 1,500 employees (30%), and the fewest work in large companies with more than 1,500 employees (23%). “ (Payscale and Millennial Branding, 2012)

Various studies have shown that Gen Ys want to work for SMBs as a way to be a part of something.  They want to belong and make a difference.  You want them to belong and make a difference.  They want a challenge.  You have opportunities galore! So…how do you make the match?

Recruitment

When you are recruiting for an available position, clearly define the job and the benefits.  Benefits do not have to be expensive – casual dress, flexible schedules, staff social events or opportunities for training and development.  According to Software Advice, their study of 1,500 job seekers showed that over 50% of 18-24 year olds said access to MOOCs for professional development and training would positively impact their decision to apply at a company.

“I had my suspicions that younger workers might be more receptive to the use of MOOCs in the workplace, so this study more or less confirmed those suspicions,” says Erin Osterhaus, HR Researcher at Software Advice.  “Given the results of the survey, I think MOOCs present employers with an excellent and inexpensive opportunity to incentivize workers—younger workers especially—to apply to their companies in the first place. Employers seeking to leverage MOOCs in the recruitment process should be sure to emphasize access to these sorts of training materials on all their recruiting collateral, e.g. listing access to MOOCs as a perk offered by the company on their careers page, as well as within each and every individual job listing,”

As a job seeker, if a company offered professional development training via a free Massive Open Online Course, would you be more likely to apply?

As a job seeker, if a company offered professional development training via a free Massive Open Online Course, would you be more likely to apply?

Given that MOOCs, by definition are free (or at least low cost), providing opportunities on the clock for your employees to improve and update their skillset makes a lot of sense.  It’s a great ROI – Low Cost and High Return.  Imagine training an employee about Ruby on Rails for $0-$200 (not including their hourly rate) online in MOOCs or paying $900-$2000 for the same type of training in a classroom – which may also involve travel, hotel and meal expenses (costs not included).  For a budget conscious SMB, MOOCs could provide a great alternative to traditional, expensive training options.

When recruiting the best and brightest young minds available, it is in the SMBs best interest to advertise that they offer opportunities for T&D – and to consider MOOCs as a viable form of development.

Watch for our next article in the series which will cover retention and T&D – can MOOCs help you provide the necessary training to keep your staff up to date and satisfied?

 

Being a Productive Learner (Or Entrepreneur)

Below are a series of infographics from Funders and Founders on how to be a more productive entrepreneur. However, I think it is worth pointing out that the tips in them are applicable to students, self-directed learners, starter-upers, and everyone in between.

I saw this and thought it was remarkably useful for people who create self-directed learning plans. No matter if you are sludging through 5 concurrent MOOCs or are making your way through the last of finals week in college we can all  learn to simplify our lives to maximize productivity.

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Start off with having a SIMPLE existence. Seriously. Wear a few outfits that you don’t need to put a lot of thought into, and get rid of the clutter. Get rid of the crap that takes up space in your room, desk, life and brain. Say goodbye to the people who suck up your time and energy. Stop thinking you need to be perfect (nobody really expects you to be!) and turn off your dang phone every now and again!

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The most productive people get up ridiculously early. They do. Just accept that and try to emulate it. Here are some of the best ways to get up early. Plan an exciting breakfast that will get you out of bed. Schedule your most important plans in the morning so you wake up thinking about how to kick-start your day. Read a book the night before and turn off the phone. Seriously. The phone. Turn it off! And drink water before going to bed and again after waking up. If you are well hydrated you are more energetic and alert.

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Start every day right. Start with the hardest tasks and get them done. Visualize the type of day you want to have. Work out when you get up. Even if it just stretching, getting blood and oxygen coursing through you will do wonders to wake you up. And finally, ask yourself how happy you are doing what you are about to do. If you don’t love what you do, it is a lot harder to get up every morning to do it.

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The best rule of working fast is to just start and keep moving. Momentum is easier to build when you are already moving. So just start on whatever you need to do. It will train you to stop procrastinating and you can make a habit of being a more productive person and getting more things done. Start with quantity and then revise to hit quality. Again, expecting perfection the first round through only worked for Tesla. For the rest of us, we have to deal with just getting the thoughts flowing. And again, cut down on clutter and you will be WAY better off.

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Finally, we come to thinking faster. We all need to be able to think on our feet. First: be honest with everything you say. Don’t try to “pitch” to everyone around you or you’ll never be trusted. Be straight with people. If you don’t know- say it! If you don’t have time to do something- don’t accept the task! Don’t try to spend too much time formulating your sentence. Let silence be. It’s only awkward if you make it. Trust your gut and challenge your memory regularly. And always remember that being creative or knowledgeable comes from being able to store vast amounts of information in your brain.

There is no better way to use this new-found productivity than testing it out with expanding your brain! Accredible is the perfect way to learn whatever you want for nearly every subject. I challenge you to take a MOOC and record your learning experience as you try to apply these tips to be more effective. Happy learning!

 

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Siouxsie Downs: Siouxsie Downs is the CEO of IQ Co-Op, and co-founder of Farnsworth Downs Technology. She is an Uncollege alumni, stopped out of CU Boulder’s Engineering Physics program and is continuing her education in Nuclear Engineering. She hosts a radio show, has worked on humanitarian engineering, and is currently designing nuclear reactors in the Rocky Mountains. She plays roller derby (Atom THORasher), rides motorcycles, and was named after a 1980s punk rock singer and is an all around geek.

 

 

Startups 101: Starting Small, Thinking Big

A word cloud made from 14 startup founders' definitions of "startup" - read them all here

What is a Startup?

Although the term “startup” has become so ubiquitous it’s bandied about without a hyphen (shocking), few people we’ve asked seem to agree on what a startup is. The popularized fairytale of startups begins with “Once upon a time in a garage…” and ends with “They made millions of dollars and lived happily ever after.” Few startups grow to Google or Facebook level proportions, but one thing is very clear from even the fairytale version of reality: startups are defined by their ability to grow rapidly: in team size, user base, and (optimally) profit.

By definition, startups are starting something, and usually, we think of startups as starting something new, or at least providing a unique spin on an existing product or service. Startups are typically fairly small; most startups have a team of 5 or more people, and run off of roughly $1 million in funding, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

Angels and VCs and Bootstrapping… Oh my!

Whenever the founders of a startup decide they have an idea they want to create, they have to consider where they’ll be working, who they’ll be working with, and what they’ll need to make their vision a reality. All of these questions really boil down to: where is the money coming from? Startups have three options:

(1) Bootstrapping: “Bootstrapping” simply indicates that the founders are funding the company themselves. The reality of this is that founders have harassed their family and friends enough to provide some initial funds, or that the founders have left a relatively high-paying and stable job to give everything they’ve got to make their idea a success.

(2) Angels: Angel investors are individual investors or a small group of investors that can provide initial funding to startups in exchange for some equity. Since angels are usually only accountable to themselves, they often invest in startups they personally feel connected to, whether because of the problem the startup is trying to solve is something they also feel strongly about or because they know the people involved in the startup on a more personal level. Angel investors are often entrepreneurs themselves or have played a role in other startups previously.

(3) Venture Capitalist (VCs): VCs are institutional investors that manage clients’ assets and invest them in early stage startups in exchange for some equity. They can typically afford to invest more than angel investors, but contrary to popular belief, only 1-2% of startups are VC-funded. VCs have to think big-picture and are generally more interested in startups addressing large scale problems. Find out more about more in this nifty video.

VCs and angels play an important role outside of simply financing early stage startups; they also provide valuable advice and direction to the company. As you might imagine, having too many VCs and angels taking an active role in the direction of the company might not always yield the best results, but generally because of their experience and network, they are valuable resource for startups to gain a stronger foothold in their industry.

Startup Life

Part of the reason why reconciling what qualifies a company as a “startup” is so difficult is because boiling down a “startup” into its number of employees or how many years it’s been around would be oversimplifying what it means to be a “startup.” Walking into a startup office—whether it’s in the snazzy office space in a high rise or a somewhat dingy but very cozy basement—you’re hit with this wave of optimism and energy. Everyone’s working hard on something incredibly complex, and what’s more impressive: everyone is loving it.  The undercurrent in all startups is their passion and enthusiasm for their new product or service. We’re excited to share interviews with startup junkies and entrepreneurs and share a closer look at the fascinating world of startups. To make sure you don’t miss a post — sign-up for email updates!