Top 10 free Coursera courses to learn something new

Coursera is a leading online learning platform for higher education that offers courses from more than 200 of the world’s top universities and industry educators — from Ivy League American universities like Columbia to famous British educational institutions like the Imperial College London and top enterprises like IBM. To date, 77 million learners from around the world have taken online courses with Coursera.

So, what have they been logging in to learn lately? In 2020, the top Coursera courses reflected an understandable bias toward COVID-19-related topics like contact tracing, but courses involving well-being, psychology, and information technology remain ever-popular.

Read on for the top 10 Coursera courses with the highest daily enrollments in the United States from January 1 to November 30, 2020. And don’t worry, you can still take them now. Enrollment is free, though you’ll pay if you want a certificate; this cost varies.

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Yale professor Laurie Santos has taught three million online happiness seekers.

Credit: ian moore / mashable

In this course, you’ll face a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. It’s taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos, who reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead people to think the way they do, and the research that can help you change. At the end of this approximately 19-hour course, you will be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

In this introductory-level course, you’ll learn about the science of SARS-CoV-2, including information about the infectious period, what the clinical presentation of COVID-19 looks like, evidence for how SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted, and why contact tracing can be such an effective public health intervention. You’ll be taught how contact tracing is done, learn the most common barriers to contact tracing efforts, and discover strategies to overcome them.

This course is the first of a six-week series that aims to prepare you for a role as an entry-level IT Support Specialist. You’ll learn about the different areas of Information Technology, including computer hardware, the internet, computer software, troubleshooting, and customer service. By the end of this course, you should be able to understand how the binary system works, assemble a computer from scratch, and install an operating system on a computer.

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. In this 60-hour course taught by Andrew Ng, one of the cofounders of Coursera, you’ll learn about the most effective machine-learning techniques and gain practice implementing them and getting them to work for yourself. The course will also teach you about the theoretical underpinnings of learning and how to quickly and powerfully apply these techniques to new problems. You’ll consider Silicon Valley’s best practices in innovation when it comes to machine learning and AI, and get a broad introduction to machine learning, data mining, and statistical pattern recognition.

This 15-hour course teaches you about how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates information. It also covers the illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping you master tough subjects. This course promises to be a guide, with practical steps, to help you if “you’ve ever wanted to become better at anything.”

This 19-hour course will teach you the basics of programming computers using Python, a general-purpose coding language that can be used for most types of software development. Although it sounds daunting, the promise is that anyone with moderate computer experience should be able to master the materials in this course. You’ll learn how to install Python and write your first program, use variables to store, retrieve, and calculate information, and use core programming tools such as functions and loops.

This approximately 33-hour course offers an overview of the ideas, methods, and institutions that permit human society to manage risks and foster enterprise. There is an emphasis on financially-savvy leadership skills as well as a description of practices today and analysis of prospects for the future. Yale states that the ultimate goal of this course is using such industries effectively and toward a better society.

This three-hour course is quite niche; it’s designed for individuals who are already leading contact tracing programs and have experience with epidemiology and public health. Anyone who completes the course will then be proficient in using the Contact Tracing Evaluation and Strategic Support Application to estimate the impact of their contact tracing program on transmission, and strategizing about how to increase their program’s impact.

This 15-hour course offers up a look at a range of fascinating questions: What are people most afraid of? What do dreams mean? And what makes people happy? You’ll get a comprehensive overview of the scientific study of thought and behavior as you explore topics such as perception, communication, learning, memory, decision-making, persuasion, emotions, and social behavior. You’ll also look at how these aspects of the mind develop in children, how they differ across people, how they are wired in the brain, and how they break down due to illness and injury.

This four-hour course is designed for anyone who has been curious about how scientists identify and measure outbreaks like the COVID-19 epidemic and wants to understand the epidemiology of these infections. It looks at how many people have been infected, how this is measured, how infectious COVID-19 is, and how to practice social distancing as a way of protecting against getting the virus.