Personal and professional development can both be important factors in a person’s life, even if they are happy and content in their current employment situation. Professional development allows for you to stay current and up to date in your chosen field whilst making new relevant connections with peers, and personal developments can encourage you to grow as an individual by learning new skills and trying new things.
Overall, development of any kind can be beneficial to both your present and future self, and in this modern age the very best way to go about developing yourself is via online courses. Whereas it might not be easy to carve out time to visit a location during a working week or over the weekend, the innovation and explosion of online of massive open online courses (or MOOCs) has opened up the world of development to pretty much anybody who is willing to commit the time. Here is a short and simple guide about what you need to know.
- What Is A MOOC?
- When Did MOOCs Start?
- Why Are MOOCs Important?
- Where Can I Find MOOCs?
A MOOC is a large online course that utilizes formats like pre-filmed lectures, readings and computerized tests to give a user the full classroom and lecture hall experience. The majority of MOOCs also incorporate an online message board of forum that allows students to discuss the class with each other, creating a virtual classroom feel form the comfort of their own homes.
The natural evolution of MOOCs can be traced in line with the rise in computer technology in the education sector. Online classes began as a way to allow ling distance, rural students to gain access to learning materials, and many universities began to upload their subject content on to private servers so that their enrolled students could catch up if any classes were missed. Though these early MOOCs were mostly taped lectures uploaded to watch and take notes, as the power of the internet grew, so did the capabilities of the MOOC format, and soon there were dedicated classes on pretty much any subject imaginable that anybody willing to pay could enroll in to enrich their education. 2012 has been labelled as the ‘year of the MOOC’, with a huge surge in classes being made available to take online.
MOOCs are important because they have essentially changed the landscape of education in the sense that now nobody will be discriminated against on account of their previous high school scores or their rural location. Anybody who has the funds and the desire to learn can enroll in a MOOC and reap the benefits of online learning. This can be especially helpful if you are considering job change or a climb up the corporate ladder and you need an extra qualification to enable you to do so. With MOOCs being so readily available, people no longer have to settle for the lot they were given when they left high school.
Some of the best regarded MOOCs can be found at:
- MIT OpenCourseWare – One of the largest collections with fields including chemistry, anthropology, literature and more.
- Harvard Extension School – Ivy League resources for free.
- UC Berkeley X – Free online courses including The Science Of Happiness and Scalable Machine Learning.
- The Open University – Available through iTunes, a wonderful resource for things like creative writing and psychology.
- UMass Boston – Well regarded for subjects like early education and performing arts.
- Udacity – Founded by a professor at Stanford, a brilliant resource for those interested in computer science.
- Udemy – A site that showcases a variety of education-related classes such as Google Earth for Educators and Apps For Librarians and Educators.
Though MOOCs are growing very fast as a learning culture, there are now signs that they will completely overhaul the way people are traditionally educated. It is important to not some of the cons in the argument:
- Some would argue that MOOCs are not quite personalized enough to be as effective as true, localised student/teacher relationship.
- There can sometimes be a lack of personal contact between you are the head of the class, a lot harder to have a connection with somebody whose office you cannot visit.
- Grading can sometimes be a problem in MOOC sessions, as it is often peer marking and not all students will have the same levels of competence.