Advance Your Career with MOOC

by: Joanne Meehl

What's a MOOC?

What have you been doing to continue growing in your career? What's your new knowledge? Don't be lulled into thinking that because you have a degree and "experience", you don't need to revisit what you're learning. The opposite is true: knowing the latest in your field, and not just what you learned 20 years ago in MBA school, keeps you competitive.

So take a MOOC class (pronounced "mook", and it stands for Massive Open Online Courses).

MOOCs are popular because people love the flexibility. Universities want to show off their faculty, with some hoping you'll sign up for paid (way more expensive) courses. Some companies do pay tuition reimbursement so check with your company on this. If yours doesn't, take the courses anyway, as they are often free or very low-cost.

MOOC courses alone usually won't get you a degree but today, you can get certificates. But taking individual courses that fill "holes" in your knowledge are very worth the time. A client who's a job search candidate needs to learn more about Lean Six Sigma so she is beefing up on it from her laptop at home in the evening. She'll need to continue on in actual certification classes but while in her job search, she can now talk with some intelligence about the methodology.

Speaking of job search: When a networking contact or an interviewer asks, "So how have you kept up with your field?", citing a MOOC class shows you are committed to your work and to growing your knowledge. If you're between jobs and you get the question "So what have you been doing since your layoff?", answering "Taking an in-depth class in Finance for Inventory Managers at Stanford University" is a way more effective answer than "Looking for a job" or "Painting the house".

Don't think that MOOC classes are all as simple as, say, just watching videos. Technology has changed how online learning takes place so that today it's far more interactive. A client in Minnesota is learning how to create Android mobile apps in a "class" of over 20,000 other students at the University of Maryland. He uses Skype to attend live and recorded lectures, he has weekly projects to do both on his own and with a team, and plenty of reading in the form of frequent downloads from the professor. So expect to do actual work, and gain a lot in new learning. How much does this client's course cost? $40.

Google "MOOC" and you'll see a lot of info, from companies offering an array of courses to colleges and universities with in-depth course lists.

You won't actually be back on campus, but you'll feel like you are with all that you will learn.


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