Massively open online courses now give anyone with a computer and an Internet connection access to higher education.
Mike Lenox, who teaches at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, gives a good explanation of MOOCs and an analysis of their potential to disrupt the education industry here.
The disruption story is interesting, but I like MOOCs for another reason.
Use MOOCs to Improve Skills & Try on New Careers
Have you ever wondered if you chose the wrong career? Do you know that your job skills have gone stale? Do you lack experience working virtually and across cultures? You can address all of these challenges with MOOCs.
MOOCs give you a low-risk opportunity to learn about new fields via free online learning.
Do you think you should have been a coder? Take Harvard’s 100 level coding class along with a couple hundred thousand other people from around the world. Just looking at the syllabus convinced me that I should not have been a coder. Minimal investment from me, maximum sigh of relief.
Has your boss complained that your writing sucks? Yes, I said “sucks.” Take coursera’s rhetoric course.
You I might learn how to express yourself myself without using the word “sucks.”
Do you find yourself competing against younger people who are comfortable working virtually and with colleagues from other cultures while you aren’t? Pick a MOOC that requires you to work on a virtual project with fellow students from around the world.
If the MOOC is job-related, you can feature it on your resume and LinkedIn profile to demonstrate your up-to-date skills.
Whatever your lagging job skill, check to see if there’s a MOOC that can lead to your professional growth and development.
MOOCs Let You Take Small Risks & Make Incremental Progress
I’m not a fan of blog posts that suggest that people commit a lot of time or money to anything. For example, blog post titles like 30 Must-Read Business Books make me really anxious. I must? 30? That’s over the rest of my life, right?
I’m a fan of small, incremental progress. I like MOOCs because you can dip your toe in and see what you think without making a big commitment.
Like it? Take the deep dive. Don’t like it? Use your delete key.
Since I wrote this post in 2013, I have taken three online courses — two (free) on visual design and one (paid) on business storytelling.
I’ve listed them in the Accomplishments/Courses section of my LinkedIn profile here. I enjoyed each course and plan to take more.
Who Offers MOOCs?
Check out the infographic below for a good snapshot of the 2013 MOOC landscape.
At the end of 2016, coursera dominated, followed by edX, XuetangX (non-English), FutureLearn, and Udacity. That said, there are thousands of providers to choose from. You can get caught up with the current state of MOOC play here.
Upgrade Your Resume
Better than that, take a course. You’ll gain new skills and you will show potential employers that you’re curious and accountable for your professional growth.
In fact, if you’re a programmer, one study found that participation in Udacity and Coursera MOOCs predicted interview performance better than any other aspect of an applicant’s resume.
© 2013 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, Smart Brief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.