Sometimes students ask such questions, of which you have never thought about before … And you open yourself to something new!
Our spotlight this week is on Aleksey Zadoiniy. Aleksey is a Mentor in four courses!
Share something about yourself
I am a Mentor, translator and beta-tester of Coursera courses.
What was your first Coursera course, how did you find out about it and why did you decide to take it?
My first Coursera course was “The Data Scientist’s Toolbox” from the Data Science specialization from Johns Hopkins University. I read an article about the experience of this specialization in one well-known Russian IT portal, Habrahabr.
What’s your favorite Coursera course and why?
There are several favorite courses I have.
It is very difficult to choose, as each of them are great in their field. It’s like comparing chocolate and ice cream – if you love both of them, just one can not be selected. =)
Here is a list of my favorite courses: “Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management” from the University of Virginia – it is the most structured and concise course on project management. I work in this area, and was delighted by the course. The specialization “Machine Learning and Data Analysis” from MIPT – this is a very difficult course. But it is not just giving practical knowledge. It shows how things work from the inside. Each course of this specialization is 2-3 times longer than any other that I have studied. But you certainly need a lot more additional material to learn the course content properly! The course is a real test of strength. Additionally, “Marketing in a Digital World” from the University of Illinois – such a number of interesting, exciting stories you will not find in any other collection of short stories. That is very exciting! Also, “Gamification” by the University of Pennsylvania – a huge number of interesting stories and examples. You open the door to the wonderful world of serious games.
What impact have Coursera courses had on your life?
First, the courses very much broadened my horizons. Second, I learned a number of skills that I could never explore on my own. Third, when I became a mentor, I met many interesting people. Almost every day, I talk with them and they do not cease to surprise me. They are real professionals.
I have a lot to learn from them, but sometimes I manage to surprise them and to teach something in return. This is a great opportunity for professional and personal growth!
Which course(s) do you Mentor? What do you like most about the course(s)?
So I’m just in awe of these courses.
They are very different. Machine learning – it is a challenge. If you have never done this in the past, it will be very hard, but interesting. Gamification – it’s fun. We do not think much of the game elements in the world around us. We even use some part of them, but do not think about it. It is amazing!
How did you decide to become a Mentor?
It’s a long story! I took the first 2 courses of the specialization “Machine Learning and Data Analysis” by requesting financial assistance, so I felt obliged to repay the authors of the course and Coursera. So I tried to actively help in the forums. In the beginning I received a letter from MIPT after completing the course “Mathematics and Python for Data Analysis” – they were looking for Mentors (I did not yet know what mentorships was). I always dreamed of studying in MIPT in my youth, therefore, I could not write them off. I was surprised that they invited me. I was one of the first 5 Mentors for MIPT and one of the first Mentors on Coursera in Russia. For about a month, I helped in the forum as a learner, and one day, I received an invitation from Coursera to become a Mentor. So now I Mentor these courses on Coursera, and believe me, there is a big difference between the two courses!
What do you enjoy most about Mentoring?
I enjoy finding solutions to a difficult questions. Sometimes students ask such questions, of which you have never thought about before. You have to study the course material again, read the documentation, wiki, tutorials, and you open yourself to something new in the field, which you believed you had already studied. It’s an incredible feeling to learn something new! It is comparable only with the feeling you get when students tell you “thank you” for your answers.
What would be your number one tip to give to a new Mentor just starting out?
Mentors should take more time to read course forums and not just to answer questions. Answers to most questions are already on display in forum threads, just no one is looking. Students come to the forum to ask a question, get an answer and never come back. For most learners, it is this way. You can hardly turn over the world. Therefore, first think carefully about what you will do.
What does the Coursera/Mentor community mean to you?
The Coursera community is an opportunity for professional growth for me.
Are you a part of any communities outside of Coursera?
I am an active member of the Bitrix community – It is my professional domain, I have been doing this for more than 8 years.
Is there anything else you think the Coursera community would be interested to know about?
I think the community would benefit in knowing that volunteers can do more than just mentoring on Coursera. The fact is that all the Mentors are very different: Mentors are assigned by Coursera, Mentors are assigned by the Universities, Mentors can do course grading as well (this is a pilot project, perhaps it will disappear in the future). Although the basis of the work that a Mentor does is from his or her good will and a desire to help learners, I think the volunteers of Coursera have the right to expect a little incentive as well. I showed my suggestions for an incentive structure here in this diagram: