Is this Coursera Statement of Accomplishment Worth Anything?

I received my E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC statement of accomplishment today. This has me thinking about assessment and certification.

The Voice Thread #EDCMOOC small group that I credit with helping me finish the course (see My Human Element) recently had a post-MOOC reflection synchronous conversation via a Google+ Hangout. One of the topics we discussed was assessment and certification, especially in an age of MOOCs and sites like Khan Academy. Felicia Sullivan brought up the idea of creating ways for certification to be separated from the course itself so that students/learners might be more inclined to focus on the learning. In other words, you could learn in various ways and then be assessed by some external body in order to show your mastery of a particular topic.

My MSLOC colleagues, Michelle Frisque and Teresa Torres, tweeted today about Mozilla’s Open Badges program which helped me further my thinking on this topic of certification. This is why I love Twitter!

Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 3.28.12 PM

This type of badging program might offer a way for an individual to document his or her learning that happens outside of formal school settings. From their wiki:

Learning today happens everywhere, not just in the classroom. But it’s often difficult to get recognition for skills and achievements that happen outside of school. Mozilla’s Open Badges project is working to solve that problem, making it easy for anyone to issue, earn and display badges across the web — through a shared infrastructure that’s free and open to all. The result: helping people of all ages learn and display 21st century skills, unlock career and educational opportunities, and find new life pathways.

As Michelle Frisque mentioned, the City of Chicago is running Chicago Summer of Learning, a badging program using Mozilla’s open badge tool. The city is encouraging Chicago youth “…to engage in hands-on learning opportunities—particularly in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math”. I just signed up and am curious to see how my boys respond. I am starting to focus more and more on helping my boys engage in thoughtful ways with the technology that surrounds them as well as help them learn how to be intrinsically motivated life-long learners.

This Summer of Learning program seems like a great way to encourage the children of Chicago to keep on learning in a more free way over the summer! There are some compelling arguments for this type of system in this video by Mobile Digital Arts. It seems aligned with some of the ideas shared by Ali Carr-Chellman in her Ted talk called: Gaming to re-engage boys in learning.

So what is one to do with a Coursera statement of accomplishment? If you are curious what it looks like, mine is below. I’m not sure what I will do with this other than save it as a file on my computer. It certainly is not why I took the class. However, I do realize that there are particular contexts where this type of certificate might be important. There were some people who were expecting to get this statement almost immediately after the course finished and seemed upset that it was taking so long. I wonder how other EDCMOOC students are planning on using their statements of accomplishment? Maybe there will be a Cousera badge system via Mozilla soon – you can see a list of which organizations are currently issuing badges here:

EDCMOOC Statement of Accomplishment


27 thoughts on “Is this Coursera Statement of Accomplishment Worth Anything?

  1. Alberto

    Hi there,
    I am new to coursera so apologies if my question sounds really obvious.

    I am currently enrolled on a course which does not offer any certificate of accomplishment but I would still like to show future employers that I have taken this course. I have read that I can still obtain a statement of accomplishment from Coursera as proof that I have undertaken this course. My only problem is I have no idea how to ask for a statement of accomplishment?

    The course does not finish until August 30th and it is only an 8 week long course so I still have some time to complete it, but could someone please let me know how to gain a statement of accomplishment and when/where to ask for one?

    As much information as possible would be very appreciated.

    Thank you kindly,


    1. Sorokti Post author

      Alberto – I was also a student in a Coursera course several years ago but do not have the information that you need. You will need to contact Coursera for help as I am not affiliated with this company.

  2. Aimeé

    I discovered Coursera a couple of weeks ago and I already enrolled to three different courses. I’m fascinated by what they have to offer! I never to university (I didn’t want to) but I did look for continuing education options since I still wanted to learn without having to sit in a classroom for 4+ years and without following a set of courses. It has worked for me because I can pick the courses I find interesting instead of sitting through classes I find boring.
    In my country, Mexico, I have had a hard time finding continuing education courses, which is why Coursera seems amazing to me,
    I have been wondering whether there is a big difference between just getting the Statement of Accomplishment and the Verified Certificate. So far, the biggest difference I seem to find is that the Certificate states that they have confirmed the student’s identity (the Statement doesn’t) and it has the logos of Coursera and the university. I agree with those who say that the most important thing is to learn, not to have a certificate. I do like the idea, however, of being able to add to my CV. It seems that I could list either of them in my CV but I’m not sure. Do you think it would make a difference or would either have curricular value?

    1. Sorokti Post author

      Gracias por su comentario Aimeé. It really is amazing that anyone in the world with an internet connection can learn in this way. When I received this Coursera Statement of Accomplishment I don’t think that Coursera had started offering the Verified Certificate. I think the Verified Certificate is one way that they are now able to make some money. I would think that you could list either certificate on your CV. I don’t think there are any “right” answers to these questions because this is all so new and everyone is figuring it out together.

      1. Aimeé

        ¡Muchas gracias por responder tan rápido! =D yeah, I think the Verified Certificate is pretty new, but I can’t be sure.
        I like what you say about this being so new that we are still figuring it out. I hadn’t thought about it that way but I think it is very true!

  3. dim

    Hello.I would like to ask, when did they ask you, for your name and surname ?After finishing the lectures?because when you start taking the lectures they only ask you for a nickname and a password.thanx in advance!

  4. Elmira Pavlova

    In my opinion certificate doesn’t matter for the business.
    The things that matters are if you are ready to learn new stuff , to apply it in solving new challenging tasks.Business need skills and we have to keep up with advance of the science
    Taking Coursera’ courses we show our passion for learning new skills,our ability to organize and improve our self.
    In addition there is huge difference between Coursera’s courses. Some of them are easy for taking, other require a lot of time and specific skills because of the given tasks ,open quizzes and so on.

  5. Jason Stone

    Article about MOOC’s Comment Posting Text:
    This is an interesting article about MOOC’s. My colleague and I are studying retention in MOOC’s. If you have taken a MOOC and would like to take a quick, academic, research survey, then click on our URL. One lucky participant will win a free iPod shuffle.
    Thanks, Jason, Oklahoma State University

  6. Rick Bartlett

    Keeley, thanks for the 1+. I’ve been thinking about the power of badges and digital currency since watching that TED talk a couple months ago. I wonder if (someday) MOOC certificates will be seen in the same way- sort of like the wall of badges that the guy had in “Sight”.

    When I started this course I thought I didn’t need a certificate- I’ve already got advanced degrees- but I’m starting to see things a bit differently in the past couple weeks.

    Since the course finished I’m finding myself having numerous conversations with colleagues at my college, many have heard of MOOC’s but none have any experience with them. I’m realizing that through my participation (and completion) of #edcmooc I have a bit of status with other faculty. I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself correctly, but I could see how a conversation about what I learned, combined with the certificate, may cause my academic dean to file that info in my rank advancement file. Just speculating.

    Appreciate your blog and your insights here.

  7. Susan Barrett Kelly

    Hi Keeley, I’m afraid I can’t help with your question. Don’t know what you do with your certificate. I’m just happy that it’s offered. Perhaps the folks at Coursera have read Drive by Daniel Pink, so are aware that cultivating a sense of accomplishment is an important factor to increasing motivation.

    And, by the way, I’m impressed. Congratulations.

    1. Sorokti Post author

      Thanks Susan. What I found interesting about this edcmooc was my sustained motivation that was a result of this open connectivist learning.

  8. Beth Dailey

    Thanks for starting such a great conversation Keeley. I’d like reference this conversation and topic in the TLT newsletter this week. I hope that will be OK. When we are working to meet our own learning goals, the assessment piece is relevant. When we need to document our learning for an outside agency then things change. There in lies the challenge. Thanks for starting this conversation.

  9. Michael Henry

    Great discussion. We are entering an important, and disruptive time in education and assessment. How many CEUs have been handed out based on “seat time?” How many academic credits have been awarded to those who can memorize, or work the system? We need a connection between skill documentation and learning activity… wherever, and whenever it happens. Badges are a good start, especially for those informal learning experiences. I would also suggest looking at the ADL “experience API” or xAPI, (formerly called Tin Can. We are trying to build these open source tools into our Gigabit Education project. GigEd KC. We are in for some transformative times in education.

  10. Sorokti Post author

    I had a twitter conversation with serveral EDCMOOC students yesterday about this blog post:

    John Lacey ‏@JohnLacey: I take @sorokti’s point about @coursera Statement of Accomplish. A better form of social proof would be more useful. #edcmooc #edcmchat

    @sorokti: @johnlacey I actually question whole notion of the certificate b/c for me a #MOOC is about learning. period. are we stuck in old paradigm?

    Andy Mitchell ‏@AndyDMMitchell: @sorokti @johnlacey Students are sold the notion that employability skills are what’s important now. A certificate doesn’t come close

    @JohnLacey: @andydmmitchell — But how do you prove that you have employability skills (in the short time allocated to an interview)?

    @sorokti: @JohnLacey @AndyDMMitchell I guess I’d point people to my blog – more meaningful than certificate / depends on audience

    @sorokti: @JohnLacey @AndyDMMitchell Just like there r many types of #MOOC learners there need 2 be various ways 2 show learning – cert. works 4 some

    @AndyDMMitchell: @JohnLacey @sorokti @coursera I think we need remember this form of learning is still quite young. MOOC 2.0 should be coming soon #edcmchat

    @kirstie_C: @AndyDMMitchell @JohnLacey @sorokti @coursera learning tech in general is young, only what, last 20 years? #edcmchat

    @AndyDMMitchell: @kirstie_C @JohnLacey @sorokti @coursera But there have been massive changes since mobile learning took off #edcmchat

    @kirstie_C: @AndyDMMitchell @JohnLacey @sorokti @coursera Yes, sure – we’re all finding our feet – then things change again -amazing really #edcmchat

    @sorokti: @andydmmitchell @JohnLacey @coursera agree Andy – will be interesting to see where this all ends up – like Wild West right now!!

  11. Nat Nelson

    I agree in that I haven’t taken these courses for the certificate and are they actually worth anything. Some, including the edcm, will be added to my personnel file as it relates to my job. I think I will include the others in my career folder for future job searches. Not that it has an impact on the roles I will look for but more to “prove” my willingness to learn. Overall the collaboration and connections I made were worth more than the certificate but I still like having something tangible in my hand.

    1. Sorokti Post author

      Nat – Thanks for your comments. I agree that there is a YES AND situation here. I believe that those of us who completed the course were likely motivated by what we were learning, not driven by getting a certificate. But it doesn’t hurt to have the piece of paper/file. At the very least we will all be able to tell stories of being part of the MOOC movement in its infancy.

  12. wryerson

    HI Keely
    As a teacher’s asst. in an elementary school we are required to take a certain number of hours of professional development in a five year period in order to stay certified. I had planned to use my certificate for that purpose. I will only be able to log 25 hours for this course as that was what was stated in the course description. I never kept track of how many hours I did spend, but I know it was a lot! I’m not even sure administrators will accept this certificate of accomplishment, but I have learned more from EDCMOOC than any other professional development course or workshop that I’ve taken and that says volumes.

    1. Sorokti Post author

      Thanks for the comment wryerson. I hope that the administrators accept the certificate. I wish that some of my son’s teachers were taking MOOCs and connecting more with teachers around the world to bring all of these innovative teaching methods back to their classrooms!

  13. DeborahLGabrielPhDMD

    Ah, but is not open education about student based rather than teacher based learning, therefore, it is up to the students of any ages to get what they are ready for. How can an outside body determine that? That is stuck in the standardization model which does produce good education, just rote memory, does not produce creative, divergent thinking.Computers do rote memory.

    1. Sorokti Post author

      I agree with you Deborah that about the standardization model focusing on rote memory and limiting creativity. My oldest son is in 2nd grade and I am disturbed by the number of standardized tests he has been taking since Kindergarten. I am constantly working on helping him understand that it is so much more important to be excited about learning new things and not so focused on a score. However, our schools have become so focused on doing well on these tests that it is an uphill battle.

      The discussion that I had with a small group of EDCMOOC students about separating assessment/certification from the actual learning experience was an exploration of ways to have students in open education courses be able to focus more on the learning and less on getting the certificate.
      In other words, if you needed to show that you have a particular skill or “know” something, perhaps there would be ways to demonstrate that when the learner is ready.

      I was actually surprised that there was a certificate when I signed up for the class because I was participating in the MOOC solely for the learning. However, I have had several discussions with various people over the past several weeks that have helped me understand that some people actually need the certificate in order to gain professional credit to keep a credential (see wryerson’s comments here) or to prove to their organization that they completed the course. Just as there are many types of learners with various learning goals in an open course, there are various views on certification and assessment. I think it will be interesting to see where this all ends up over time. I hope that we don’t just end up in our current paradigm. I thought that the peer assessment design in this course was excellent. I learned even more about the course topics by having to comment thoughtfully on the digital artifacts.

  14. travelerglobal

    Keeley, I also got my certificate today. It looks like yours, but has my name on it. I have a Ph.D. in Comparative Education and Social Sciences, and the certificate is for an undergraduate course. My academic world does not care about MOOCs. Academia resists online education and MOOCs. Adjuncts and distance education instructors are looked down upon by those who have a full-time academic job. I feel enriched by my experiences with MOOCs. I am enrolled in three MOOCs now and continue to reflect and analyze how the tapestry of college education changes everyday.

    1. Sorokti Post author

      Ligia – Congrats on completing the EDCMOOC and for continuing to engage here. It certainly will be interesting to see how MOOCs are viewed over time. I just want to continue to be a lifelong learner and am focused on that as opposed to whether anyone else will think this type of learning is valuable. But I also recognize that this is a luxury that I have and is not everyone’s reality.

    2. DeborahLGabrielPhDMD

      I got the degrees and pieces of paper, also all which were a poor return on investment of time and money. In the US, we have the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex and the post-secondary education industrial complex. Academic arrogance is just what it is, arrogance, but to be compassionate, as the ed complex starts to unravel, there are many who stand to loose jobs with no other marketable skills and that is never good for the individual or society… but unless we start focusing on real education for the times we live in, we in the US which continue to get poorer not only economically but in spirit.

  15. Sorokti Post author

    Rick Bartlett (@rbb2nd) just shared this related TED Talk with me: Rachel Botsman: The currency of the new economy is trust (

    There’s been an explosion of collaborative consumption — web-powered sharing of cars, apartments, skills. Rachel Botsman explores the currency that makes systems like Airbnb and Taskrabbit work: trust, influence, and what she calls “reputation capital.”


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