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Thanks to the proliferation of MOOCs (massive open online courses), and increasing digitalization, a host of educational institutions and companies are putting up their courses online. This has broken down the barriers to education, and has allowed people to update their skills for a nominal price, sometimes even for free.
But with so many online courses available, it can be really hard to make the right choice. You need to devote a significant amount of time and energy to complete a course. So, the last thing you’d want is to chose something that doesn’t add to your CV or to your skills.
Fret not. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you get started and select the right course for you.
What To Look Out For?
Like formal education, there are certain factors that need to be kept in mind even for the online courses. Be it the selection of the short certifications or the long-term skill development projects, make sure that you factor in these points.
Who Is Teaching?
If your aim is to get the course on a CV, then the brand value matters. Employers would much rather prefer a course certification from the reputed institutions such as Google, Stanford, and Yale, than from some lesser known establishment. Most employers even today are a bit skeptical about the online certifications. However, when the certificate is issued by a much valued brand, their hesitations and skepticism are mitigated to a great effect.
The other benefit of the top-tier institutions is that they often use the experts from the field, such as their own employees, to teach these courses. This provides a practical, hands-on experience and information that other courses may not be able to provide. Thus, it is good to go in for a reputed course provider, especially if you are paying for the course.
What’s On Offer?
Many, especially the students, make a big mistake when choosing the courses – they simply pick up a topic that they already know about or are comfortable with. While such courses are easy to complete, they do not really add to your knowledge or skillset in any way. It is thus important to pick up the online courses that challenge you. An ideal course is one that bridges the gap between what you know, and what the next level of competency is.
Quality of the courses also tends to differ radically. Some of these courses only provide readings and video lectures. While the other courses also provide graded projects, practice mechanisms and peer discussions. It is quite obvious which one you should opt for – the latter off course. However, many free online courses may not have such facilities and materials, in which case you can go in for something more informative, though paid.
Why Am I Doing This?
Your end goals are the vital determinants for arriving on the online courses that you should opt in for. As a student, you can focus more on the CV-enhancing courses. As a worker, you can choose application-based courses that will enhance your skill set. Your finances also play a key role here. You can always take up some free online courses while you save up the money to take up an expensive but a rewarding course a little later.
Remember that just because it is online, it doesn’t mean it will be easy. Learning takes effort, practice, and time. It is of no use to take up a course and not be able to show anything for it, such as in job interviews or at work. So, it is essential to ensure that you dedicate the personal resources needed to complete the course.
Where To Start?
If you want to get started with the online courses but don’t know which topics to take up, here is a handy list. You can choose what piques your interest, or go in for some course, that would be the most relevant to your academic field and industry.
Delve Into The Digital
The most popular courses on the online platforms are the ones that are dealing with the topics such as on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, Coding, and the like. These are ideal for the students and the workers of the digital industry. With the constant evolution of technology, a short-term course is the perfect route to brush up your knowledge from time to time and to add on to your skillset. You also have the option to go deep into one particular topic, or develop a broad, surface-level repertoire of knowledge.
Leverage Social Media
Social media is one of the most dominant forces in the world today, especially in the field of advertising. Courses in social media marketing and management are thus a great asset for somebody looking forward to or thinking of entering into the field of marketing. Most brands are already on social media, and are always on the lookout for new talent that can help them grow their engagement to the next level. With some creativity and knowledge thrown in, you can stay a cut above the competition in this competitive industry.
No matter what industry you are in, knowledge of psychology is bound to help you out. From assertiveness and decision making to effective leadership and unlocking creative thinking, psychology can help you enhance your daily personal and professional interaction with people. However, certifications in psychology may not be that useful to you if not are not in the same field. Instead, you will have to rely on the application of what you learn, in order to get the best from your course.
Back To The Basics
Still not quite sure how the economy works? Want to learn that better and that faster way of problem solving? Tired of whipping out the calculator app every time you hit the store? Many free online courses deal with such basics. The beauty of these courses is that you can learn them at your pace, without the pressure of assignments or the pressure of peers. In fact, don’t hesitate to start a course that’s marked high school even if you are a middle aged working person. Learning is a privilege, and there is absolutely no shame in strengthening your knowledge foundation.
Develop A Niche
Not all courses are geared towards academics. Today, many experts provide free online courses on diverse topics such as creative writing, graphic designing, pet grooming, music and more. You can take up these courses to develop a personal hobby, or even to take up some paid work and work as a freelancer. Remember that the online courses are not only about getting a certificate – self-development and following ones passion is just as important.
So there are a ‘n’ number of good online courses available out there, almost on every subject. We have in this article tried to discuss the methodology that you can follow and thereby choose the right course for you. If you want a little help in comparing the courses, you can search here, or here and help yourself out.
So, now do you think that the online courses actually have value for you? Did we make the process of choosing the free and the paid online courses, easy for you? Which online courses would you recommend? Which online course has helped you in your career? And which learning management system or online platform did you use for your course? Let us know in the comments!