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U-M Launches Two Specializations for New Generation of Data Scientists

Recognizing that new career pathways require new approaches to education and training, the University of Michigan is launching two new series of courses on Coursera as part of its commitment to developing curricula and lifelong learning opportunities for a new generation of data science students.

“Learners who engage in these skills-based specializations will become data storytellers,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for digital education & innovation. “An increasing number and range of organizations across sectors of the global economy want to engage talented individuals who bring structure to complex problems and see possibilities in a world of messy data.”

These specializations, Applied Data Science with Python and Data Collection and Analysis, will help learners thrive in data science roles by equipping them with the skills to collect, mine and analyze big data. These series of courses provide learners around the world with paths to learn and apply data science and survey methodologies, whether they explore individual courses or complete all courses sequentially.

Since joining Coursera as a founding partner in 2012, U-M has reached more than 4 million learners throughout the world. These data science specializations mark the next phase of the partnership, building upon the success of four specializations U-M launched in September 2015 including Python for Everybody.

“As one of Coursera’s original four partners, the University of Michigan continues to be at the leading edge of innovation in open education,” said Daphne Koller, president and co-founder of Coursera. “In a little over four years, over 4 million people have enrolled in Michigan’s online Coursera courses and watched over 240 years of Michigan lecture video. Beyond those impressive statistics, the University of Michigan has continually demonstrated its understanding of the skills that learners need in today’s world by offering courses and specializations in areas like data science and technology where job demand is growing fastest.”

The Applied Data Science with Python Specialization, developed by School of Information faculty Christopher Brooks, Kevyn Collins-Thompson, Daniel Romero and V.G. Vinod Vydiswaran, delves into the techniques and skills to manipulate and gain insight into data through the Python programming language. This specialization introduces learners to data science through Python and is intended for those with a basic Python or programming background and want to apply statistical, machine learning, information visualization and/or text analysis techniques to gain new insight into their data. The courses are all focused on data science methods, techniques and skills within the Python domain, building on existing MOOC specializations offered by U-M.

“The goal of this specialization is to merge core intellectual data science skills — critical, skeptical and scientific thinking — with applied technology skills,” said Brooks, research assistant professor and director of learning analytics and research, digital education & innovation. “This specialization is very much aligned with the University of Michigan’s commitment to preeminence and excellence in data science, as evidenced by the $100 million investment made last October.”

The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization, created by U-M professors Frederick Conrad and James Lepkowski with professors Frauke Kreuter and Richard Valliant from the University of Maryland, teaches the tools and techniques to collect and analyze diverse types of data to make strategic decisions. This specialization builds on the success of the Questionnaire Design for Social Surveys MOOC, which has reached more than 65,000 global learners and helps establish a framework for creating well-designed surveys. The seed for this collaborative endeavor can be sourced to the faculty partners’ involvement with the U-M Institute for Social Research, the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization.

“The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization will provide learners with broad knowledge of what is required to conduct and interpret scientifically sound, cutting edge survey research,” said Conrad, research professor and director of the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology. “The capstone project will draw on, integrate, and solidify the material presented in the six courses. Learners who complete the specialization will contribute to the survey research enterprise in new and productive ways.”

In addition to these two specializations, U-M continues to build upon its track record as a pioneer in digital education with additional courses on the Coursera platform. Three Pillars of Business Decisions, developed by Professor George Siedel, provides a global business framework to help learners make sound business and legal decisions regarding risk management, value creation and ethical management. Veteran Centered Care, created by professors Monica Lypson and Paula T. Ross, provides learners with a comprehensive overview for healthcare practitioners to meet the unique physical, mental and emotional needs of veterans.

Also, U-M is relaunching three popular MOOCs in an on-demand format: Introduction to Thermodynamics developed by Professor Margaret Wooldridge, Introduction to Cataract Surgery developed by Dr. Elizabeth Du, and Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education developed by Dr. Caren Stalburg.