All I could see was kindergarten on the horizon. Flashing like a beacon I could no longer ignore. You see, my youngest child was almost five and he would head to kindergarten the following September. Previously, “heading to kindergarten” was in the deep distance of my thoughts about my little guy. I had been a work-at-home book editor when my daughters were little, but with the birth of my son I had switched from work-at-home mom to stay-at-home mom. I had a glorious time staying home with my son, but with kindergarten nearing I needed to find employment, evaluate my skills, and possibly enrich myself through online learning. I had a lot to think about.
Prior to staying home I had worked from home as a book editor, but much had changed in the publishing industry in the five years I was home with my son. My skills were rusty; there was no other solution for me than to retrain. But, what would I retrain as? After researching and weighing my options, I settled on a graduate program in writing and graphic design. The combination of weekend classes and web classes offered by the college would work well with my son’s preschool schedule.
[Find out more about online degrees from Kaplan University.]
When I was first in college and grad school, I always took classes in a college classroom with an instructor or professor. Taking online classes took some getting used to, but eventually I came to love much about them. I could attend class in my pajamas…or in the middle of the night…or when the roads were impassable from snow…or even when my kids were home from school. While I only met my professor and fellow students a handful of times that semester, I soon got the hang of interacting with my classmates through the class online forum.
Five years ago, online classes were rare. But today there is a trend towards MOOCs. What, you may ask, is a MOOC? A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. These classes offer access to material over the web. This new development in distance education allows massive participation of all who are interested in a particular subject area. Can you imagine thousands of people in many, many locations all taking the same class? Talk about access to education for all! Not to mention that students then have access to professors at the finest institutions in the country, all from the comfort of their own home or office.
As you consider whether or not to dip your feet in the world of web learning consider these ten tips for taking MOOCs:
- Will an online class help you in your career? If you are investing time and effort in an online class, be sure that the class will benefit you professionally.
- Research your options. Search online for feedback from those who have taken the class you want at the institution you are considering. Based on feedback, evaluate whether a MOOC is a good option or not.
- Choose your courses wisely. Do you desire to enrich your current skill set? Add new skills? Or take a massive online open course for fun?
- Do you have time? Sounds like a basic question, doesn’t it? However, if you are knee deep in a thousand projects at work or taking a long vacation, perhaps taking a MOOC is not the right choice. Look at your schedule to see if you can do what is required as part of the MOOC.
- Budget your time. Though the coursework required of you may be less than an on-campus graduate class, take the work seriously. Budget your time so that you have enough time to do schoolwork.
- Do you have reliable internet? Again you may wonder why I would even bring this up. We are all so digitally connected, aren’t we? But let me tell you that it is super frustrating to post a response to a discussion topic over a so-so internet connection only to lose your connection along with your response. Ugh! So, if your internet is reliable, you are good to go.
- Do you have a quiet place to study? You may be used to pulling out your laptop or tablet and scrolling through emails while hanging out with the kids. To fully absorb the material given in an online class, you will want to have a quiet place to study…your home office, Starbucks, and the local library are all good options.
- Access resources. Contact the professor if you have questions. You’re taking a class at a fine institution of higher learning, so make the most of it. Instead of stressing out about a particular section of the class that you don’t understand, a quick email to the professor can lead to increased understanding.
- Keep track of deadlines. You may or may not have many deadlines in your online learning class. Use a daily planner or your online calendar to keep track of assignment due dates and deadlines. Is there anything worse than missing a deadline?
- Share your success! Once your MOOC is over or even while it is in session, be sure to tell your boss about what you are learning. Share how you hope the class will help you in your job.
[Did you know MOOC Certificates Can Satisfy Employer Needs?]
Whether you are reentering the job market after an absence or fine-tuning skills at your job or looking for a new job, the skills you learn from online learning classes are invaluable. With a MOOC—massive open online course—you learn from professors who are leaders in their field at some of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the country.
Jill Berry wears many hats: writer…blogger… social media marketer… founder of a parenting site…and of course, mom. You never know where you will find Jill: online, on the sidelines of a soccer game, writing about her favorite products on her blog, or representing a brand at a conference. Jill seizes family time whenever she can be it dinner as a family, movie night, or marathon game sessions. Connect with Jill on her blog, Musings From Me, or find her on Twitter.