One of the most powerful forces in career advancement is attaining new knowledge and skills. Until recently, that often meant time and financial commitments tied to enrolling in courses, and potentially earning a degree. But now we have MOOCs—massive open online courses. These free course offerings are readily available online and serve as a great first step towards earning the education you need for professional development.
[There’s even a free MOOC where you can Document Your Experiences For College Credit.]
MOOCs are usually college level courses offered by notable universities like Harvard, MIT, Penn State and hundreds more. Their shared goal is to open up learning to as many individuals as possible, providing the public with access to university-level courses. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and the desire to learn.
Whether you’re looking to launch your career, enhance it, or head in a completely new direction, here’s our Top 10 list of what MOOCs can do for you:
1. Explore: If you are just starting out or re-careering, MOOCs are a good way to discover your direction because you can sample different subject areas of interest. If the class turns out not to be right for you, you can switch to something else without any cost. If you decide you like the course, you can be on your way to learning valuable new skills.
2. Competitive Edge: Taking the initiative to learn something new, and sticking with it to complete the MOOC, is the hallmark of a disciplined self-starter, an asset to any company. Employers will take note and appreciate that you are interested in personal advancement.
3. Convenient Learning: Study at the times that are best for you without affecting your job—in the evenings after work, on the weekends, or while the kids are playing in the next room.
4. Affordable Access: Most MOOCs are absolutely free. There might be a nominal cost for an “official” credential or badge, but you can learn the material at no cost.
5. Respected Instruction: You’ll be learning from some of the greatest minds in academia and practitioners in various industries and career paths. Instructors are often leaders in their fields, teaching at some of the world’s most prestigious universities.
6. Vision: Single course offerings often provide clarity on what’s required to achieve longer-term goals. They serve as the springboard to taking the next steps.
[Read more: 4 Ways to Get the Most out of a MOOC.]
7. Networking: Make new contacts in an industry you are interested in learning about. You might end up connecting with someone half way around the world who shares your interests.
8. Acceleration: Some MOOCs have started to offer college credit to accelerate your timeline to your degree, which will ultimately save you money on courses you don’t need to duplicate.
9. Skills: Enhance your current skill set, whether it’s learning how to use particular software, adding a new programming language to your portfolio, or starting on a new subject entirely.
10. Assessment: Their interactive platforms make MOOCs a great way to discover just what it’s like to take courses, and potentially transition to earning a degree, via an online school.
There are hundreds of courses available through different online learning platforms, which makes choosing one very overwhelming. That is why the team at StudentAdvisor.com created this site, LearningAdvisor, a free resource and community for MOOC students. LearningAdvisor has organic, crowdsourced reviews of MOOCs, to provide a helpful description of what it’s like to take a MOOC. LearningAdvisor strives to provide a full-service database of every free and open online course.
On LearningAdvisor, users can:
Review MOOCs and read reviews from real people who have taken them
Read course descriptions and details about instructors, start and end dates, and where to take the MOOC
Rate MOOCs and view them based on star rating
Browse MOOCs by subject, publisher, school, or type of accreditation
Search for MOOCs based on keyword
Read current news relating to MOOCs and education technology, including tips on taking MOOCs
Do you want to dip your toe in the water to check out what a new career might entail? Have you always wanted to learn about a particular topic that might help your career, but never had the chance to go back to school? Somewhere out there, there’s almost certainly a MOOC for you.
Register (it’s free) on LearningAdvisor.com and join in the ever-growing community of MOOC-takers. Find the MOOC that fits your needs. And when you’ve taken it, come back and review it!
Online learning is growing substantially, and as more online courses get reviewed and instructors receive feedback, MOOCs are constantly improving. According to a study by Pearson, 77% of academic leaders surveyed reported that in 2012, outcomes of online learning were the same or somewhat superior to classroom learning. LearningAdvisor is at the forefront of this educational movement, providing advice and assistance to every online learner.
Where do you think MOOCs can make the biggest impact in your career trajectory? Have you ever taken a MOOC? Share your experiences and thoughts below. Lifelong learning starts here.