5 TIPS FOR SUCCESS USING Illinois on Coursera

by | Jan 24, 2020

Written by Kendall Job, Marketing & Communications Intern


Coursera is a web platform containing free, completely online university courses, certificates, and degree programs. Lucky for you, University of Illinois students and faculty have completely free access using  Illinois on Coursera! It’s a great opportunity to take a class or classes on topics you may be curious about but either can’t fit in your regular class schedule or just want to take as an extra interest-based endeavor. However, since the courses are all uploaded as online video lectures and projects, it can be challenging to hold yourself accountable when it comes to sitting down and completing the coursework. Here are some helpful tips for success on Coursera so you can be on your way to your next certificate in no time. 

Tip 1: Choose something you actually like 

There is no point in choosing a course you don’t want to take or a certificate you don’t want to complete. After all, the courses are free in the first place, so choosing something that doesn’t motivate you makes you a lot less likely to prioritize your time to complete it. Since there are no specific due dates set or penalties for not completing your work, you are essentially your own professor. If you choose a topic or certificate you are truly passionate about, you will be more excited about it overall and will be able to get yourself to commit to the amount of time it will take to complete. 

Tip 2: Be prepared and organized 

Just like any other traditional classroom course, it is extremely important to read through the entire syllabus so you know what to expect from the course. Log on to the Coursera website at the beginning of each week and see what it is that needs to be completed. Head to the course site for the class you choose as well in order to get acquainted with the inner-workings of the platform and become accustomed to how to grades, assignments and projects are displayed on the page. Knowing all this important information about the courses themselves before starting will have you less stressed once you’re well into the course. 

Tip 3: Commit to a schedule 

Again, if you aren’t excited about the class, you won’t really want to do it. So once you’ve chosen a topic that you are passionate about and have read through the course syllabus, estimate how much time you will need to commit to the coursework each week. For each class, there is usually a designated number of weeks or months it will be accessible for you to complete it. In order to stay on track and ensure you finish all of the work, you need to set aside a certain number of hours or a specific day each week in which you know you will be able to commit to finishing that week’s worth of work. Setting small goals for yourself each week, like completing one chapter or lesson, is a good way to start and not immediately overwhelm yourself. 

Tip 4: Interact with your classmates 

Though it is an online platform, Coursera allows the opportunity for plenty of interaction with your fellow classmates. Discussion forums allow students to ask and answer questions, share information and ideas about the course, and even receive feedback from volunteer mentors. The volunteers essentially act as TAs would in a traditional course and are available to provide insight and answer questions. Course instructors also hold a pre-recorded video version of office hours each week, in which they record answers to the most commonly asked questions from that week. Another great reason to use those discussion boards! 

Tip 5: Give and receive feedback 

Take the time to not only complete and submit your own work, but also take a look at the work of others. Since there is no in-person discussion for people to chime in with ideas or comments, it’s important to look at and review the work of your classmates. In doing so, you have the opportunity to see what others are thinking and gain new insight and ideas you may not have thought about before. There are also opportunities to give and receive comments on one another’s work, a great tool for feedback since the work is not graded by a professor as it would be in a traditional classroom. 

The Illinois on Coursera online class experience is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. They are open to all University of Illinois faculty, staff, and students and are a great way to gain knowledge on a topic of interest or earn credit toward a certificate to push you further down the career path you want to follow. Remember these tips when signing up for your first (or next!) course for guaranteed organization, commitment, and success! 

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