Off the curb

Feeding the Meter


Are you feeling like your skills are a little stale? Is the last course you took Freshman English 101…and that was ten years ago? Are you trying to improve your self-development but your budget is a little malnourished at the moment? Then you should know about MOOCs.

MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Courses.” These online courses are available from top universities around the world; many of them for free. If you’ve heard of UdemyCoursera or EdX you’ve heard about MOOCs. The driving spirit behind MOOCs is that anyone, anywhere, can learn just about anything online. One of the early adopters of the concept was MIT who started their “MIT OpenCourseWare” program fifteen years ago offering free and open materials spanning a cross-section of MIT’s entire curriculum.  A few years later the concept took off when three, free classes taught by Stanford professors, each attracted 100,00 students to sign up.


When you are navigating a career change, upping your skills in a specific area or gaining fresh perspective in a new field can be helpful but, so is valuing your time! Rifling through thousands of course offerings can be fun but also a big time sucker. That’s where I’ve found a search engine like Class Central to be helpful. At Class Central you can plug in the subject matter you are looking for and they can tell you where that subject is being taught, how popular a particular class is, and whether it’s offered for free or for a fee.

Although MOOCs don’t generally offer degrees or certifications for free, you can still learn from some of the top scholars, leaders, and thinkers around the world. Investing in your own learning can pay off. For example, if you’re an engineer with a full time job in mechanical engineering and you’re interested in shifting to business but aren’t quite ready to tackle an MBA, letting a potential employer know you’ve invested in your own development by taking online courses in marketing, sales and finance from some of the top business schools wouldn’t be a bad place to start!

Lynne Cage