As a working professional in our ever changing economy, you are always looking for ways to be ahead of your game. One of the most vital options available to working professionals is to take courses in their field. This is a great option for you to grow your knowledge base and extend your skill set. However, sometimes cost and time prevent working professionals from committing to further education. Thankfully, there is a solution. MOOCs are the perfect solution. A MOOC is the acronym for Massive Open Online Courses. They are available to anyone with access to the Internet (perfect for home learning), are highly collaborative and are taught by real professors. The best part? They’re free and fit into anyone’s schedule.
There is a lot of information out there about MOOCs and it can be a bit overwhelming Basically, you have the opportunity to take a variety of courses through a virtual university. As a society, we engage in social media on a daily basis, so why not use those skills to add to our knowledge base in online learning communities? You may even find yourself engaged in a MIT free online course or a Stanford free online course all the way from say North Carolina?
Here are some tips for taking MOOCs before you dive in:
1. Create a list of skills or interests that you are interested in gaining knowledge in. This will help focus your search efforts for the perfect class.
2. Develop a list of goals that you want to achieve from taking MOOCs. For instance, are you looking to advance in your career field? Are you trying to improve in a certain skill set? Do you desire a career change and need the opportunity to explore?
3. Research the time commitments of the course or courses you choose. Yes, MOOCs offer the maximum flexibility but you will still need to make a commitment to coursework, online attendance, etc.,
4. Be prepared to be engaged, on all levels. Since MOOCS happen online, a lot of the courses rely on the participants to be engaged online. Some examples of this include email listservs, discussion forums and blogs. You have the potential to engage with people from all over the world!
5. Ask your favorite college or university if they offer MOOCs. Since MOOCs are fairly new to many people, many top colleges and universities are offering courses to gauge interest and participation. That dream school isn’t far away after all.
6. Inquire about the process. Everything including free online coursework has a process. Be sure to do your research and understand what you need to do to get enrolled.
7. See if a credit is offered. Sometimes you can get credit at the college or university you take the MOOC from.
8. Be open. There is so much to offer with MOOCs and while at first glance, a course description may not be appealing to you, try it! You may surprise yourself.
9. Ask others. People you know may have enrolled in MOOCs. Ask them about their experiences!
10. Enjoy yourself! It will be an adventure!
Overall, MOOCs are a great way to learn more and grow as a person!
Adrienne Pomeroy is a 30 something educator who loves to engage on all levels.