There are many different online data science course providers, but how do you choose the right one for you?
Southampton Data Science Academy (SDSA) offers six-week, tutor-led data science courses designed for busy professionals. Below, Head of Learning Manuel León-Urrutia explains the benefits of choosing a tutor-led course.
SDSA provides online data science training, but our distinctive feature is tutoring.
All SDSA courses are supported and assessed by tutors with data science expertise. They are all staff members of the University of Southampton, trained and experienced in research-based approaches to online learning.
The role of these tutors is at the core of the design of SDSA courses. The result is a unique competence-based online learning experience that meets the demands of the digital economy.
Here are 5 key reasons to choose an SDSA tutor-led course:
1. Learning through conversation
SDSA programmes are designed to foster conversations about Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, both with tutors and other students. Education and neuroscience research has demonstrated that the cognitive processes that are activated in conversations result in meaningful learning.
Also, it is through conversation that competency-based learning is best achieved. To acquire knowledge, you can learn by watching and reading. To acquire skills, you can learn by doing. But to acquire a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes (this is actually the meaning of competence), the best approach is learning by talking about it.
That said, our programmes also offer the option to learn in isolation, if a student prefers that approach.
2. People-centred support
Our people-centred programmes are designed for professionals who are usually too busy to pay their undivided attention to a course.
Navigating the learning platform, joining live tutorials, working on assignments and remembering deadlines and events are all activities which can become challenging to manage in the busy schedules of our students.
We think that the best way to provide support is through the tutoring team, who are aware of - and sympathetic to - the challenges faced by students. They are also trained in resolving issues that may arise when trying to fit course activities into busy schedules.
People-centered support also means that we can accommodate a wide variety of circumstances, which ensures that each and every student can make the most of the learning experience.
3. Overcoming sticky points
Our courses have ambitious learning objectives, and are known to stretch their participants, as they require cognitive efforts the reward of which are meaningful learning experiences. However, there might be occasions in which certain obstacles get in the way of some students’ learning journeys.
Concepts that may be not so easy to understand, exercises the solution of which is not so obvious, and many other challenges that can be unique to individuals, are best overcome by addressing them with an experienced tutor.
Our courses are designed for independent learning, but there may be times when a student can do with a bit of help to overcome sticky points, and our tutoring team is there to help!
4. Assessment, feedback and certification
Our courses address the competencies needed for contributing to the digital transformation of the students’ organisations.
Apart from knowledge and certain technical skills, these competencies involve creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking. These cannot be measured by solely testing the ability to memorise the content, or completing exercises.
During our courses, students have to propose solutions to real-life problems and rationalise their proposed solutions. The tutoring team reads these solutions, assesses them, and provides feedback.
This process can only be achieved with human input, as those machines that can read essays and comment upon them are not yet among us, and we are not sure they will ever be.
Our courses take place in cohorts, designed to maximise interactions between students. These cohorts are formed by like-minded professionals with similar aims, facing similar challenges around the digital transformation of their organisations.
The courses therefore present plenty of chances to meet other people, share experiences and knowledge, and establish interesting connections.
One of the aims of our course activities is to build learning communities that can potentially lead to exchange and collaborations among professionals of the same or a different organisation. The interventions of the tutoring team facilitate these exchanges.
In short, there are many reasons why we have chosen to focus on providing courses with a significant tutoring presence, and we believe this is one of the main benefits of choosing to study with us.
Southampton Data Science Academy tutors use their expertise to teach data science skills through webinars, tutorials, online exercises, discussions and regular feedback. Find out more and see our tutor profiles: