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Leveraging Coursera content: earning professional certificates while completing coursework – featuring Mark Woychick


Imagine your students earning a degree as well as industry-recognized certificates as part of their Boise State experience. Faculty feedback, guidance and support could help students to apply what they are learning and connect industry skills with their college experiences. One would imagine that the administrative headaches of managing the integration of industry credentials into college coursework might put-off the most determined person. But, what if there were a resource available to Boise State faculty that solved this problem by offering a wide variety of modular content, including industry certifications, that could be easily integrated with and synced to your Canvas grade book?

This is exactly what Mark Woychick, Director and Clinical Professor of several College of Innovation + Design programs has done for Boise State. He found such a solution in Coursera and arranged for Boise State to have licenses available for its use. Using Coursera, Woychick has helped the College of Innovation + Design build three new certificate programs that use Coursera content as an engaging, interactive “textbook,” and students earn industry certificates while they earn college credit. As part of their coursework, students create portfolio artifacts to apply what they learn, receive personalized feedback on their work and interact with course peers.

Mark Woychick

Mark Woychick

In addition to College of Innovation + Design’s programs, Coursera content has been integrated into a music technology course and the Bronco Gap Year program. Woychick believes that part of student success is providing learners with experiences and credentials that differentiate themselves in the job market. Using Coursera content for this purpose is making it much easier to offer these opportunities to our students.

Benefits to Students

Many Boise State students are already working while they are earning their degrees. Adding an industry certification as part of earning college credit can benefit our students in their current and future work. One student who earned a Boise State Google Career Certificate while doing their coursework stated, “I was able to immediately apply knowledge to my work. It’s been incredibly helpful, particularly in understanding complex projects and how to examine the processes, not the people.”

“I was able to immediately apply knowledge to my work. It’s been incredibly helpful, particularly in understanding complex projects and how to examine the processes, not the people.” – Boise State Google Career Certificate earner

Woychick points out that while there are many online courses and certifications available, the completion rate for MOOCs and self-paced online courses is low. Building a better experience around online content adds value to the credential, allows for personalized instructor feedback on portfolio artifacts and instills accountability to complete the course. Another Boise State student who earned a Google Career Certificate described the benefits of embedding these professional certificates within a college course, saying, “I attempted to take this program last summer on my own, and I failed. I only completed Coursera Course 1 and paid for a subscription for an additional 3 months before canceling. The due dates really helped instill additional diligence and discipline to complete the whole program, and I did it while taking multiple other courses!”

Benefits to Faculty

One thing Woychick was aware of was that if faculty had to create the textbook, slides, videos and online portal for every class they taught, it would certainly slow them down if it didn’t stop them from offering a course altogether. By integrating existing content from Coursera, faculty are able to reduce the time needed to stand up and deliver new online course content. Using Coursera also saves them time on maintaining that content. Faculty will also be able to reduce administrative headaches, thanks to integrated license provisioning and grade sync through Canvas.

We all know the benefits of bringing practitioners into the classroom to provide different perspectives for students. That said, scheduling guest speakers can be challenging due to schedule conflicts, and it is complicated to sustain these valuable interactions semester to semester. Woychick points out that with asynchronous courses, students may rarely have the opportunity to hear from practitioners. Integrating Coursera content allows faculty to give their students access to professionals from diverse backgrounds and industries, enriching the student experience in a sustainable way.

The authors of the article Bridging the Gap: Micro-credentials for Development call for providing “opportunities for augmenting course delivery, while ensuring quality, to serve new and emerging markets to address the changing needs of learners and employers.” Integrating Coursera content into courses allows faculty to accomplish this objective and provide the option of earning industry credentials to their students.

How Mark Woychick Does It

  1. Browse Coursera to identify the content you want you use
  2. Determine the Coursera module(s) or course(s) you want to use
  3. Create the assignment instructions in Canvas
  4. Create the connection to Coursera content in Canvas
  5. This link provisions a Coursera license for the student and connects the assignment to your Canvas grade book
  6. How to Link Coursera Content in a Canvas Course


If you’d like to explore how  you might incorporate open educational resources and professional certificates in  your online course, you can request a consultation with an eCampus staff member.

Article Credit

Thanks to professor Woychick and Noreen Beckie, the eCampus Instructional Design Consultant and Design Team Manager who worked with Woychick to design his online courses.