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I recently finished my first Coursera course and received a Statement of Accomplishment. The Statement of Accomplishment is Coursera’s answer to my question in a previous post. For some of my courses students are invited to pay for a “Verified Statement of Accomplishment” by joining a “signature track” for the course. The coursework is the same, but only the paying students get the verified statement at the end. I respect Coursera’s efforts at bringing legitimacy to free coursework, but I don’t place a lot of value on the Statement of Accomplishment, primarily because the level of difficulty is highly variable from course to course. The class for which I received my first Statement of Accomplishment was interesting, but incredibly easy. I listened to the lectures each week, but I could have answered each week’s five-question quiz correctly without having done so. In contrast, last week I spent a couple of hours on the homework for my Intro to Operations Management course and had to re-watch a couple of the video lectures.

Of course, some of my college classes were pretty easy too. I once took a class called “Geology of the National Parks,” which I and the entire football team were using for our science requirement. I also got credit for an elective swimming class. But my overall degree program is what ended up counting - no employer has ever asked to see the titles (or my grades, for that matter) of individual courses.

The Statement of Accomplishment is a good start, but I would like to see Coursera (and others) offer something closer to a degree - a Statement of Accomplishment that covers multiple courses and recognizes the totality of study. If such a thing were available I might even be willing to spend a few bucks to get one.

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