11 FREE Online Classes To Take in September To Enhance Your PR and Biz Skills

11 FREE Online Classes To Take in September To Enhance Your PR and Biz Skills

professional development
Take your career into your own hands. [Photo: Thomas Barwick]
The days of anticipation and first day of school jitters may be behind you, but the notion of furthering your education shouldn’t be given the increased competitiveness of today’s job market.

The rate of change in the world and in the PR industry specifically is high and the skill sets required for success are constantly changing. You should always be looking to raise your game and equip yourself with the necessary tools and knowledge needed to succeed at the next level.

Take advantage of any professional development opportunities that may be available through your firm or consider taking matters (i.e. your career) into your own hands by signing up for an online or self-guided course.

There are tons of sites and platforms that offer online courses but it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Courseraan education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

Here are the 11 Coursera courses I think you should sign up for this month or next:

1. Leading Innovation in Arts and Culture – Vanderbilt University (Starts September 16, 2014)
One of the toughest challenges for any leader is getting traction for new ideas. Winning support can be a struggle. As a result, powerful new ideas often get stuck. This is especially true in the cultural sector. People involved in arts and culture often have little time and even less money for experimentation and risks. This course will help those in the performing arts, museums, zoos, libraries and other cultural organizations build environments where new management and program ideas are created, shared, evaluated and the best ones are successfully put to work. ENROLL NOW

2. Competitive Strategy – LMU (Available Anytime on Demand)
In this six-modules course you will learn how firms behave in situations in which strategic decisions are interdependent, i.e. where my actions affect my competitors’ profits and vice versa. Using the basic tools of game theory, we will analyze how firms choose strategies to attain competitive advantage. ENROLL NOW

3. Introduction to Financial Accounting – University of Pennsylvania (Starts September 5, 2014)
This course will improve your fluency in financial accounting, the language of business. You will learn how to read, understand, and analyze most of the information provided by companies in their financial statements. These skills will help you make more informed decisions using financial information. ENROLL NOW

4. Making Better Group Decisions: Voting, Judgement Aggregation and Fair Division – University of Maryland (Started September 1, 2014)
Much of our daily life is spent taking part in various types of what we might call “political” procedures. Examples range from voting in a national election to deliberating with others in small committees. Many interesting philosophical and mathematical issues arise when we carefully examine our group decision-making processes. There are two types of group decision making problems that we will discuss in this course. A voting problem: Suppose that a group of friends are deciding where to go for dinner. If everyone agrees on which restaurant is best, then it is obvious where to go. But, how should the friends decide where to go if they have different opinions about which restaurant is best? Can we always find a choice that is “fair” taking into account everyone’s opinions or must we choose one person from the group to act as a “dictator”? A fair division problem: Suppose that there is a cake and a group of hungry children. Naturally, you want to cut the cake and distribute the pieces to the children as fairly as possible. If the cake is homogeneous (e.g., a chocolate cake with vanilla icing evenly distributed), then it is easy to find a fair division: give each child a piece that is the same size. But, how do we find a “fair” division of the cake if it is heterogeneous (e.g., icing that is 1/3 chocolate, 1/3 vanilla and 1/3 strawberry) and the children each want different parts of the cake? ENROLL NOW

5. Exploratory Data Analysis – Johns Hopkins University (Started September 1, 2014)
This course covers the essential exploratory techniques for summarizing data. These techniques are typically applied before formal modeling commences and can help inform the development of more complex statistical models. Exploratory techniques are also important for eliminating or sharpening potential hypotheses about the world that can be addressed by the data. We will cover in detail the plotting systems in R as well as some of the basic principles of constructing data graphics. We will also cover some of the common multivariate statistical techniques used to visualize high-dimensional data. ENROLL NOW

6. Social Entrepreneurship – University of Pennsylvania (Started September 3, 2014)
Social entrepreneurs and social innovators are tackling and diminishing many of the world’s problems. They achieve significant positive social impact through the creative and aggressive mobilization of people and other resources. In Africa, a social entrepreneur built an enterprise which delivers 70 million daily protein servings into the region at significantly lower cost and at higher quality than before.  In India, rice husks are being burned to generate power enabling families to live, read, and learn after the sun goes down. In Latin America makeshift informal housing is being converted from fire-trap shanties into safe, concrete-based homes. This course will cover a select set of topics associated with social innovation and entrepreneurship whether nonprofit or for-profit. ENROLL NOW

7. Networks: Friends, Money and Bytes – Princeton University (Starts September 15, 2014)
You pick up your iPhone while waiting in line at a coffee shop. You google a not-so-famous actor, get linked to a Wikipedia entry listing his recent movies and popular YouTube clips of several of them. You check out user reviews on Amazon and pick one, download that movie on BitTorrent or stream that in Netflix. But suddenly the WiFi logo on your phone is gone and you’re on 3G. Video quality starts to degrade, but you don’t know if it’s the server getting crowded or the Internet is congested somewhere. In any case, it costs you $10 per Gigabyte, and you decide to stop watching the movie, and instead multitask between sending tweets and calling your friend on Skype, while songs stream from iCloud to your phone. You’re happy with the call quality, but get a little irritated when you see there’re no new followers on Twitter. You may wonder how they all kind of work, and why sometimes they don’t. This course is about learning the core concepts in the field of networking and its relevance to our daily lives. ENROLL NOW

8. Representing the Professional Athlete – Case Western Reserve University (Starts September 16, 2014)
This course will provide each student with the skills necessary to guide an athlete through the difficult decisions that can make or lose the athlete millions of dollars, and affect their public image and career. Walking through the four stages of an athlete’s career, we will provide a broad scope of the landscape of amateur and professional sports so that you can avoid the pitfalls and traps that so many have fallen into in the past; not to mention, bringing you updates throughout the course regarding the rapidly changing sports world that we live in today. Analyzing the best practices in the management of the superstar athletes with whom Professor Carfagna and his expert guests have worked, we will show you how to manage the career of any professional athlete who might seek your guidance at any stage of his or her professional career. ENROLL NOW

9. Managing Fashion and Luxury Companies – Universita Bocconi (Starts October 3, 2014)
The course provides an overview of the global fashion and luxury business and an in-depth understanding of what drives the market, business models, and brand management strategies. Adopting a case-study approach, the course presents strategic brand management in luxury and fashion companies as a balancing act: tradition vs. innovation, expertise vs. experimentation, casual vs. stylish; in order to increase the brand value by nurturing the brand heritage and at the same time staying fresh, relevant, and contemporary in the global marketplace. There will be discussions of topics such as the impact of new retail channels, new media channels, and new business declinations for the brand and emerging markets that can help everyone to participate in the actual debate about fashion and luxury strategies. ENROLL NOW

10. Foundations of Business Strategy – University of Virginia (Starts October 6, 2014)
In this course, we will explore the underlying theory and frameworks that provide the foundations of a successful business strategy.  We will develop your ability to think strategically by providing you the tools for conducting a strategic analysis. Strategic analysis is critical for analyzing the competitive context in which an organization operates and for making reasoned and reasonable recommendations for how that organization should position itself and what actions it should take to maximize value creation.  Aspiring managers, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, analysts, and consultants all may find value in mastering these fundamentals. ENROLL NOW

11. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills – University of Michigan (Starts October 6, 2014)
This course provides you with a practical, holistic introduction to the strategies and skills that can lead to successful negotiations in your personal life and in business transactions. The course covers the four key stages of negotiation: planning, negotiation, creating a contract, and performance of the contract. ENROLL NOW

Have you ever taken a course on Coursera before? Thoughts on advances in online education in general?