DEV Community

Cover image for Learning Resolution: 12 courses in 12 months!
Nitya Narasimhan, Ph.D
Nitya Narasimhan, Ph.D

Posted on

Learning Resolution: 12 courses in 12 months!

2021 Learning Resolutions

Like millions of people, I use the start of every year to plan my activities for the year. And every year, I try to think about three things: skills (things I can learn), projects (things I can create) and behaviors (things I can change) over the next 12 months.

This year, I decided to try something different. I took advantage of a great discount on Coursera Plus to sign up for a full year's access to 3000+ courses and specializations, many offering certifications. I had taken courses there before and found the instructors, topics and pacing perfect for my interests and schedule.

I decided that I would focus not just on technology topics (e.g., software development) but tech-adjacent skills (e.g., creativity, psychology etc.). We tend to be more accountable to learning goals on paid courses than on free ones. So I set a goal for myself: complete 12 courses in 12 months, and earn certifications.

I'll keep this blog series updated on my progress!! 😍

Jan 2021: Fundamentals Of Graphic Design

I signed up for the "Fundamentals Of Graphic Design" course kicking off the Graphic Design Specialization offered by CalArts. This student's review provides a good recap of what is involved.


My personal goal was to improve my visual storytelling skills. I've been a visual note-taker (sketchnoter) for years, and had just launched #VisualizeIT - an online series of workshops from various creative technologists, teaching skills ranging from journaling and tech doodling, to using Procreate and problem-solving in teams.


I initially signed up for the course in December, but reset deadlines to start in January instead, committing time over weekends (and late evenings) towards course study. By mid-January, I completed the required projects for the course (like the one below) and earned my first certificate - one down, eleven to go!


The most important takeaway for me is how critical visual techniques can be, in capturing users' attention and communicating desired messages with multiple cues that extend beyond actual words. Techniques involving image making, typography, shapes, colors and composition, help engage viewers and direct their attention in ways that build connection and improve retention. This makes them increasingly important for teaching new concepts to diverse audiences in ways that are inclusive and informative, while also being expressive of the creator's perspectives on the topic.

I loved this course and absolutely intend to sign up for the next topic ("Introduction To Typography") in that series this year.

Feb 2021: Learning How to Learn

My next adventure helps me with the same goal ("How can I communicate things better") but approaches it from a different perspective ("How do people learn?"). In particular, it looks at the brain science and behavioral psychology behind how individuals learn, and explores techniques that can help us be more effective at learning new ideas despite the many distractions we face today.

The course is called "Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects". It is taught by Prof. Barbara Oakley (whose research focuses on the relationship between neuroscience and social behavior) and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski ( a pioneer in computational neuroscience).

In just the first week, I've already learned about Focused and Diffused Modes of learning, got an Introduction To Cognitive Memory, understood The Importance of Sleep to Learning and learnt a successful technique to combat Procrastination (hint: Pomodoro!).

I hope to write a longer detailed post on my learnings at the end of February. For now, here's my first sketchnote from this week to serve as a teaser. Look out for the next post, to see the entire series.

Sketchnote capturing notes on learning modes

What's your learning resolution for 2021? And if you take either of the courses above, or just want to discuss related topics, leave me a comment below

Top comments (0)