Never liked the schooling system? Well, now you can get learning without it too.
The digitilization of the world and the creation of the internet has led to an information and education revolution. Education is no longer a centralized system dictated by public policies, and expensive.
The digitalization of education is in full force. Today, virtually anybody can log in and get a certificate (or even a degree) in any field that they want. The only thing that would stop them is perhaps their internet connection.
This is made possible by MOOCs, or massive open online courses. These free online courses (which occasionally have in-built payments, such as those for certification), have become a gateway for specialized education for millions across the world. Helmed by some of the most prestigious educational institutions around the world, MOOCs have opened new possibilities for students from all backgrounds.
Here is a breakdown of what these free online courses can do for you, and how you can get the best from them.
The Best MOOC Platforms
As in traditional education, the place from where you gained your knowledge from, in online education too, the same matters a lot as well. Here are the top platforms for massive open online courses, and the features that sets them apart from the rest –
Founded in the year 2012, Coursera is one of the most popular of MOOC platforms, and was formed by two former Stanford professors. The platform hosts content created by Google, IBM, MIT, Yale and many more top institutions and companies from across the world. All Coursera courses are free to ‘audit’. This means that once you enrol, you get access to all the content such as videos and readings.
However, in order to earn a certificate and participate in graded assignments, you will need to shell out some bucks.
There are a couple of ways to get a free certification from Coursera. Many courses have a ‘financial aid’ option. If you put forward your circumstances and details, Coursera may allow you to take the certified course for free. Many universities have also partnered up with Coursera to provide educational access to students. So if you have enrolled with an university, you can check out if your college has such a partnership.
Founded as a non-profit in the year 2006 by Sal Khan, this MOOC boasts of a massive catalogue of educational topics that range from middle school to college test prep. Unlike Coursera, Khan Academy does not provide certifications. However, all of its classes are completely free, and the platform runs primarily on donations.
On the flipside, Khan academy has been mainly criticized for its informal approach to teaching. Founder Sal Khan does not have a background in education. However, the non-profit has made strides by increasing its pool of experts, and has corrected some of its videos that were pointed out for mistakes.
Slightly less known vis-a-vis other platforms, Canvas is however a hidden gem for many reasons. It contains courses in multiple languages. It also has a broader net of institutions and universities that it partners up with, thus providing a more diverse range of courses.
Canvas also has a lot of courses on teaching, which can help lecturers and school teachers to brush up on their skills and learn new strategies.
This MOOC does not provide free online courses, what it does provide is a certain quality to all of its courses, that is not easily found in most of the other online platforms. This is perhaps the reason why despite its expenses, Udemy is one of the most popular of MOOC platforms. Udemy also focuses on areas outside the digital realm (which tends to be the focus for most MOOCs) and includes areas such as design, drawing, music, personal development, and photography.
Udemy has also taken the concept of MOOC a step further. It launched the mobile app for iOS in 2013 and for Android in 2014, enabling students to take the courses from their phones as well. Moreover, many companies use Udemy to train their employees, including the likes of Apple, Adidas and Volkswagen.
The educational offshoot of the Ted platform, TedEd is not a MOOC in the traditional sense – but it does provide a lot of information. Using simple lectures and visually striking videos from the field experts, TedEd breaks down complex topics in a manner that is simple and understandable.
It is thus ideal for students and others who want to get started on a new topic. TedEd’s content can prep you up for a deeper dive into your area of interest, be it through a MOOC or through a traditional educational institute.
To Pay Or Not To Pay For MOOC?
This is indeed the question. While many MOOCs provide free content, other MOOCs offer a certification and more advanced benefits for those who pay. You may therefore be left wondering, whether the shelling out of that money would be worth it.
A simple way to resolve this issue would be to chalk out the ultimate goal that you want to achieve from the said MOOC. If you are using the MOOC to simply upgrade your skills, then paying up, only for a certificate, may not be worth it.
For example, if you are already working, you may sign up for a few MOOCs to quite simply upgrade your job skills. In such a scenario, you will then have the opportunity to actually demonstrate your skills in your work – a certificate would not be needed.
However, if you are a student, or if you are somebody planning to change jobs, relevant certifications on your CV can be very advantageous. This is especially true if these certifications come from prestigious institutions, say from Google or IBM for cybersecurity. In such cases, investing in the certifications can be all worth it.
Handy Tips To Ace MOOCs
Here are the best, easy and quick tips to enhance your overall experience of these free online courses –
- Take these courses seriously, and not as something to be ticked off. The whole point of MOOCs is to learn something new that you can apply and show.
- MOOCs enable you to take up difficult subjects and without the peer pressure of traditional education. So take up the courses that challenge you and don’t hesitate from venturing into something new.
- Do make time to interact and participate in discussions with others who are taking the same course. It can be a great place to discuss ideas, network, or simply meet new people.
- If you are taking up a certified MOOC, ensure to update it on all your professional spheres, including on LinkedIn.
- Always do check up with your educational institute or your place of work about their partnerships with MOOCs. You might end up with a heavy discount, or even get into a course for free.
So, what do you think about MOOCs? Is online learning the future? Or do MOOCs lack the ability to truly educate? Which MOOCs have you enrolled for or intend to enrol for? Let us know your opinions below!