MOOCs: Free Online Classes!

Before you start asking yourself if I made a typo in the article name, fear not. MOOC stands for "massive open online course" and has becoming a hot topic among those in education.

If you've never heard of MOOCs before, then you're in for a real treat. What are they, you ask? Well, MOOCs are online courses that are open to absolutely anyone and are completely free!

Want to learn more? Below, I've outlined the basics of a MOOC and how they could benefit you.


Free, huh? Tell me more about MOOCs!

While the notion on distance learning and online education is far from new, the MOOC in its current form has experienced a lot of hype over the past few years. The emergence of websites like Coursera, edX and Udacity only helped to grow the interest in these e-courses.

These days, MOOCs are offered everywhere from Ivy League American colleges, such as Harvard University, to international schools like Universiteit Leiden in the Netherlands or Peking University in China. Courses range from topics in business and marketing to social studies and languages to computers and engineering.

Generally speaking, MOOCs are self-paced, meaning you determine when you study and how slowly/quickly you want to read through the material. Most MOOC websites offer suggested timelines, in case you want some guidance.

Additionally, you don't get graded in MOOCs unless you choose to pursue a certification, which will cost some money. Some assignments include writing essays, taking quizzes or submitting projects (depending on which course you study).

Why should I sign up for a MOOC?

People such as myself sign up for MOOCs because we just genuinely love to learn. I have always loved school, so taking an online course where the schedule is flexible and the costs are zero just seemed natural to me.

There appear to be two motivations for taking a MOOC:

  1. Personal - You love to learn new things or improve your existing knowledge on certain topics. Taking a MOOC for personal reasons is great because you're not necessarily looking for grades or "proof" that you passing the course; you just want to study!
  2. Professional - You want to gain professional experience that enhances your CV, gives you a bit of a boost at your job or contributes to career certification. There are a lot of specializations and certifications that you can earn by attending a MOOC, which looks great on your resume and also could give you a leg up at your job.

Whatever your reasons for signing up, MOOCs cover a really wide range of topics (and are continuously expanding) and are great for anyone looking to learn!


Final Notes

If you're looking to sign up for a MOOC, there are a bunch of great options out there. I have taken both a specialization certification series of courses on Coursera, as well as a one-off course, and had an awesome experience in both situations.

Looking for more information or have any questions? Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me a message on Twitter.


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