Connect with students to “MOOC-source” your data

The following is a guest post Amit Jain, lead researcher and marketing director at Coursolve.

Introduction to Data Science

These days, it’s all too easy to find examples of “Big Data” making an impact. From solving crimes to fighting diseases, hiring efficient workforces to winning elections, and tailoring consumer entertainment choices to developing unsettlingly well-targeted ads, data science has expanded its reach into every industry. Harvard Business Review has pegged data analytics as “the sexiest job in the 21st century,” and it’s not alone – experts in the private sector, social sector, and academia agree that proficiency with Big Data has gone from a luxury to a requirement in all fields.

Yet as any data scientist will tell you, data is meaningless without quality analysis. In fact, because of the unprecedented quantities of data that are now being produced every day, analyses are at once becoming increasingly complex and increasingly critical. The size of your hard drive, in other words, is irrelevant – what matters is how you interpret and present the information it contains. This is precisely the challenge for many nonprofits with limited resources: how can they hope to compete with the sky-high salaries that private sector corporations are offering data science experts?

We have a different sort of solution in mind – one that harnesses the untapped potential of students. As institutions of higher education dramatically expand their data science offerings, countless students are gaining new skills, but aren’t putting them to use with real-world datasets. Next month, we’re giving tens of thousands of those students from around the world the chance to do something more exciting: work with your data to strengthen your impact.

Nonprofits of all types are now invited to apply to “Introduction to Data Science,” a massively open online course to be taught next month by Prof. Bill Howe of the University of Washington. As part of the course, students will have the option to complete a project in which they work with a real dataset to address the needs of an organization. As they learn techniques in data visualization and trend identification, these students will apply what they learn to help drive your organization’s future initiatives. The insights they offer could strengthen your impact and identify areas for growth.

In a world with limited resources, it just makes sense to utilize student talents and creativity to strengthen your work. Tens of thousands of students have already registered for the course – don’t miss your chance to recruit their help for free. To read more and sign up, visit

Amit Jain

Amit Jain

Amit Jain is the lead researcher and marketing director at Coursolve, which connects academic courses to organizations to empower students to solve real-world problems. He is also an associate teacher of middle school math and science at a charter school in Boston, MA.

5 responses to “Connect with students to “MOOC-source” your data

  1. I love the concept. It sounds similar to what the recent Foundations of Business Strategy class on Coursera did, but handbuilding the relationships without a service like yours. Do you have any examples of connections Coursolve has made that have led to benefits for the organization and the student?


  2. Terrific blog post on the value students can bring to any organization, especially nonprofits that continue to struggle for funds in this tight economy. And organizations should not overlook another valuable point – students represent our future workforce. What better way to attract bright young minds by having them do a much-needed and valuable project for your organization that in turn showcases the meaningful work your nonprofit does. It’s a win-win for all!


  3. Pingback: Does Your Nonprofit Need (free) Help from A Data Scientist? - Vexpectations·

  4. Pingback: The best of the web | Does Your Nonprofit Need (free) Help from A Data…·

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s