Does the thought of going back to school make you cringe? Memories of strict teachers, pop quizzes and homework might give you pause, but don’t fret. The explosion of MOOCs, or massive online open classes, have opened up endless adult educational opportunities. Now, it’s possible to hone critical thinking or management skills from the home office — without anybody telling you to pay attention.

Where to get started? Below is a cheat sheet for five Coursera classes that field service leaders should consider enrolling in to enhance their careers.

1. Brush Up on Your Creativity

A course about the literary arts, specifically comic books and graphic novels, might not be an obvious choice. So why is it No. 1 — besides being a cool course that probably wasn’t offered at your school? Research shows that reading novels can actually alter your brain chemistry — and make you smarter. Graphic novels, meanwhile, are a twist and could open your mind to new ideas.

  • Title: “Comic Books and Graphic Novels
  • Syllabus: 7-week course that “presents a survey of the history of American comics and a review of major graphic novels circulating in the U.S. today.”
  • Professor: William Kuskin, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Tuition: Free

2. Be Your Best Innovator

Every executive — and, really, every employee — can benefit from a little “Innovation 101.” No matter your industry, the changing technological, legal and business landscapes are upending business as usual. The following Coursera class isn’t an easy “A” — it requires a capstone project — but you shouldn’t be in it for the grade, anyway.

  • Title: “Strategic Management and Innovation Specialization
  • Syllabus: Learn to emphasize innovation and strategic planning “in an age when companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have become more valuable (in market cap terms) than companies like Exxon.”
  • Professors: Robert Austin and Marcus Møller Larsen, Copenhagen Business School
  • Tuition: $79

3. Write Like an Expert

We are all writers, whether we acknowledge it or not. Think about how much of your business is communicated by written words. You send emails. You write business plans. Even text messages are written communication — and there’s always room for improvement.

  • Title: “High-Impact Business Writing
  • Syllabus: Firm up your grammar, learn to create a variety of different business documents and and master informal communication on social media. This eight-hour course is part of a longer series, so check out the other courses, as well.
  • Professor: Sue Robins, University of California, Irvine
  • Tuition: Free

4. Think Like a Vulcan

Logic is the basis of, well, nearly everything. Solid logic skills will be a boon to your career. (Bonus points: This class is offered by Stanford, which you can work into casual conversation. “I really enjoyed Stanford,” you can say, without adding that you took one class online. )

  • Title: “Introduction to Logic
  • Syllabus: This basic introduction to logic will not only help you think clearly, but will also give practical applications to apply logic to law, business and technology. Learn to solve problems, or prevent them from happening in the first place. Extra credit if you can complete the class without imitating Spock.
  • Professor: Michael Genesereth, Stanford University
  • Tuition: Free

5. Step Up and Lead

Sometimes we get thrust into leadership roles without any proper training. For some people, that’s OK; leadership comes naturally. The rest of us? We need expert help.

  • Title: “Leading People and Teams Specialization
  • Syllabus: This course requires a commitment. It’s an intensive, four-part course with a capstone project. Sign up for one chunk, or take the complete series for tips on inspiring individuals and leading teams — critical skills for any service executive.
  • Professors: Scott DeRue, Cheri Alexander and Maxim Sytch, University of Michigan
  • Tuition: Starting at $95 ($595 for the full series)

ABOUT Suzanne Lucas

Avatar photoSuzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She now writes about Human Resources and Business for a number of different publications.