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How will Wolfram Certifications work for you?

In a recent Wolfram Daily Study Group, we asked the certification participants how they planned to share their accomplishments. We received some interesting responses and thought it would be really valuable to pose this question to an even larger group on Community.

Some of you may have seen our certifications page on Wolfram U, and some of you may have already completed a Daily Study Group, course or exam. If you have, now is your chance to brag a bit and share! Please help us improve and expand our program. Over the last few years, the Wolfram U team has launched a range of certifications, including the flagship Wolfram Language Level 1 Certification and several subject-based certifications in areas such as calculus, multiparadigm data science, image processing and others. Now we'd like to hear about your certification experiences and whether you'd like us to add more exams and certifications for experienced users or if we should focus more on expanding learning resources for computational topics. What has the most value for you?

Other questions we would like answers to:

  • How has your certification experience helped you?
  • Do you believe Wolfram Certifications could help further your career?
  • Did you find the process user friendly?
  • Do you think it's important to post certifications on sites such as Wolfram Community or LinkedIn? (We're working on adding a Wolfram Certifications section to Wolfram Community profile pages. Would you utilize this feature?)

If you're new to Wolfram Certifications, I invite you to check out the certificates of course and program completion you can earn by watching course videos and passing cloud-based quizzes and by taking part in our Daily Study Groups and the more challenging Level 1 proficiency certifications that require passing an exam or completing graded exercises. An advanced Level 2 certification is also available for demonstrating expertise in multiparadigm data science with a graded project. When you sign in using your Wolfram ID, many of these certifications are free.

Over the past couple of years, the world has seen a huge uptick in the number of people up-skilling, re-skilling, multi-skilling and even cross-skilling! What we want to hear about from you is what role certifications play in that for you.

PS: Any other general comments or feedback about our certifications would also be greatly appreciated, but please don't post specifics about individual exam questions. (You can email the Wolfram U team directly at wolfram-u@wolfram.com with those comments rather than posting them here.)

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson
8 Replies

I participated in the 14-hour Wolfram Language Study Group led earlier in 2023 by Arben and the subsequent Level 1 certification study -- led by Arben and Abrita. Excellent stuff, and excellent staff -- from the TPMs to the question-answerers to the lead instructors. Arben certainly went beyond the call with the range and depth he engaged in questions in the classes and the community discussion. He had great knowledge and a wonderful sense of fun. I was left in awe that instruction of this high quality was freely available on something that I wanted to learn. I'm starting work on a Wolfram Notebook to portray the interesting physics and physiology of RMT Ropes. The first thing I've done is to create a ParametricPlot3D approximating the helical path of the rope's midline. I wasn't really concentrating on higher math during the course, but I realized with one of Arben's examples that a parametric plot was the perfect tool for plotting a 3D path of the rope's oscillating movement in three planes. I know I've seen that stuff many years ago, but I remember it was never #!$$ fun before. I need to make it pretty and expand to show what's happening anatomically to drive that interesting rope-movement; the Wolfram anatomy Entities should be perfect for showing the musculoskeletal dynamics.

WRT Dave's 4-level "Did you like?"/"What did you learn?"/"Master?"/"Apply?", I thought of an extended metaphor to the parable of the blind persons and the elephant. Attending a course allows one to touch the elephant -- hopefully touching many different parts of the elephant. Completing a course [with quizzes] gives you a decent picture of what the elephant as a whole looks like. Passing the L1 certification means you can make the elephant do something real -- something everyone would agree is an elephant-task. The L2 certification means you have harnessed the elephant to impact something in the real world: plow a field, carry supplies for an expedition, dance the tango, etc.. Part of why the metaphor works for me is that the Wolfram tools really are vast, they look vastly different from different perspectives, and a superior overall strategy to learning is to engage with a whole bunch of 'em. Feel free to steal that metaphor; it may work better with drawings.

WRT feedback, the largest issue I found is with communication:

  1. There are a bunch of different ways for students to communicate with Wolfram-U staff. It's a bit confusing, and some questions never get a response. Based on my experience, there is never anyone who looks at questions asked in the "ask a question" button when replaying a video in BigMarker. That is not a significant problem in and of itself, but it's noteworthy that nobody says to not send questions that way or asks BigMarker to disable that feature in playback windows for Wolfram.

  2. The community.wolfram.com forums have some positively squirrelly behaviors. When I clicked to start entering text here today, the system sent me to another browser window. I think this is related to not having my login cookie available in the first window, but I don't really know. I fixed by reloading this window. Such unexpected hyperspace jumps in the messaging system are jarring -- especially to newbie (or long-absent) users who need to learn everything about everything. Having the software tell you what it needs in a human way rather than redirect you should be a high priority. The chat system should be as close to friction-free for newbies; this one is high friction.

  3. The chat system does not scale (and I know that staff at Wolfram Research know exactly what that means). Our Wolfram Language Basics WSG has over 150 messages. I found navigating in a forum with that many messages problematic. I never have found a way to efficiently find new messages. When I got an e-mail notification of a reply to a message, clicking on the link in e-mail would not deliver me to the correct place in the discussion. Being able to effortlessly jump to new messages seems is one of the most important functions of chat software; many widely-available systems do it far better than this one. OTOH, it does work pretty well when there are 5-6 fairly short messages on one topic.

  4. With most of the Wolfram Language, one has the sense of an incredibly well-designed interoperable system. Understanding well how one thing works helps you understand how all of it works, and it all works together quite well. I don't get that sense with the chat software. It doesn't feel like part of the Wolfram system; it feels like orphaned software. Other chat systems like Discourse are far more responsive and have a [platform-specific] client app module available on All the Right Platforms (e.g., Mac, iPhone, iPad, Linux, Windows, Linux, Raspberry Pi). (AFAICT) there is not a URL for each message in a particular discussion. Wolfram Research doesn't make an e-mail system, or a browser, or video streaming software. Those things are better done by companies that exist to offer those solutions. IMHO, I think Wolfram's users -- especially the newbies -- would be better off if they would port to a modern chat system and they would stop using their chat subsystem.

  5. Is questioning the W chat system a third-rail topic? I have made several long comments about it here and elsewhere, but I've never gotten anything but a cursory response. If someone has created the definitive writeup on why Wolfram must stay with their own chat software, I'd like to see it. As the head of Wolfram-U, I think the use of a less-than-optimal chat system affects your department -- your customers -- more than anyone else.

POSTED BY: Phil Earnhardt

I have a few suggestions after having attended a number of Daily Study Groups and online courses at the Wolfram-U.

The section "Get Certified" on the Wolfram-U page: https://www.wolfram.com/wolfram-u/ is a bit confusing and may benefit from more context, for instance (my own example FAQ):

What is certification? Wolfram-U certificate programs are a series of courses designed to develop and enhance critical Wolfram Language programming skills needed to succeed in a number of computational subject areas. For example there are certification programs available for e.g. the Wolfram Language, Probability, Multiparadigm Data Science or Calculus. Find a computational subject area that meets your specific needs to start a Wolfram-U certification program. The certification programs are organized by difficulty i.e. from Beginner, Intermediate to Advanced.

What different types of certifications are there? Wolfram-U offers four types of certificates: Attendance, Course Completion, Level 1 and Level 2 certificates.

What does each certification try to achieve? Each certificate satisfies certain learning objectives (see picture). I used a combination of Bloom and Kirkpatrick learning taxonomy as an example.

enter image description here

Pre-requisites Some certifications may be self-contained e.g. Calculus or Algebra, but most programs would benefit the student and the tutor by recommended certification pre-requisites. This is more relevant for higher difficulty level programs or multidisciplinary computational subject areas e.g. Multiparadigm Data Science.

For example the pre-requisites for the following courses may be:

Wolfram Language Programming Fundamentals:

  • An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language

Multiparadigm Data Science:

  • Wolfram Language Programming Fundamentals

At last, I am a big advocate for a Wolfram-U course completion page for each user with a Wolfram ID (account) where we as users can access what course we completed, what type of certificates we earned and the course load (hrs) for each course.

POSTED BY: Dave Middleton

Thanks, @Dave Middleton. This is wonderful to have the user's perspective!

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson

Thank you for your feedback, which I've shared with our instructors. I'm glad you found the experience to be helpful. I also want to share an updated link to the Wolfram U catalog. We have added filtering functionality to the catalog, so you can search by keywords, topic areas, course titles, and more. This link takes you to results showing all available certifications: Wolfram U catalog search by certifications

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson

Recently, I completed Hands-on Start to Wolfram Mathematica with the Wolfram Language. The certification experience helped me refresh and fill in the gaps in my knowledge. In addition, the presentation process of the module is too detailed even for someone who is just starting out.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to these questions. I especially appreciate your suggestion to display a list of completed courses and certificates as part of your Community profile. We will work on this!

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson

Most of what I learned about the Wolfram Language was through online courses offered at Wolfram-U, a number of books, the Community and StackExchange and the many webinars Wolfram offers. Recently, I completed the Daily Study Group: A Guide to Programming and Mathematics with the Wolfram Language. The certification experience helped me structure and fill in gaps in my knowledge and ask questions about topics I was still struggling with. In addition, the certification process helped me better gauge my proficiency level. I appreciated the structure of the quizzes; the first two were meant to verify my basic understanding of WL concepts and the third required me to code a solution for a specific problem.

I recommend a separate post on the second question as there are many aspects to it. This is my personal perspective on your second question. During my studies at university, Mathematica was already a well-established platform for computational Algebra, and I think it still is for many academic careers. Outside academia, many employers still require established and popular languages, platforms and methods. Functional programming is catching up, so time will tell. However, I am sure the WL as a computational toolbox will help many of us in their jobs to do things faster, better or in more flexible ways. I am thinking of independent consultants and researchers, freelancers, small firms, but I am also aware that Financial Research Dept. and firms are using it too.

The process of certification employed in the Daily Study group was user-friendly enough. I miss a number of aspects though: one is an indication of course load / credits. The other one is a page (maybe in your personal profile page) with an overview of courses completed with dates, workload/credits, certificates and scores. The Daily Study Group Quizzes were automatically graded, and submitted to Wolfram-U, but there is no feedback in the process which led to many questions whether or not the results were received and to additional work for the Wolfram-U staff, I am sure. It would have been beneficial if the results were confirmed and summarized once received by Wolfram-U.

Certifications on the Community pages may encourage others to get certifications as well. I would use it on my Community Profile. On LinkedIn it may be a good option for some people, depending on where they are and where they want to go in their career.

POSTED BY: Dave Middleton

Certificates are provided as pdf files to our customers. Instructions for adding specific certifications to your Linked In profile are included, providing links to Wolfram U pages where the courses and programs are described in detail. We would like to include a Wolfram certification section on Community profile pages, and this project is getting started. We suggest using the exact verbiage on your certificates when listing them on your resume, i.e., Certificate of Program Completion for XX Boot Camp / Daily Study Group. Verification of earned certifications is currently managed by contacting the Wolfram U team.

Hope this helps. Please let us know if you have further questions.

POSTED BY: Jamie Peterson
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