By Walter Frick
The vast majority of people who sign up for a MOOC—a massive open online course—never complete it. More than 50% consume less than half of the course’s content. This is wrongly viewed as evidence that MOOCs don’t work, that people are dropping off and not getting value. The assumption behind that conclusion is that you have to complete a whole, semester-long course to get value from online education. As a MOOC addict, I can tell you: that’s not true. Instead, I’ve found there are at least three good ways to learn from MOOCs, depending on your goals and the time you plan to spend.
In some cases, it makes sense to go for a certificate, which means completing all the coursework and usually costs money. For courses on Coursera, edX, or Udacity, getting a certificate typically requires several hours of work per week, for several weeks or even months. In the end, you get to add a line to your resume certifying that you completed the course.
But that’s not the only way to use MOOCs. Another option is to audit the course, watching all the videos but not necessarily completing all the assignments. The downside is you don’t get a certificate, and in some cases you don’t have full access to quizzes or other helpful materials. The upside is you have less pressure to get work done, and can often learn at your own pace. In many cases this option is also available for free.
Finally, in some cases you can get what you need just by sampling a MOOC, watching a video here or there to get the specific knowledge that you need. For example, say you wanted to do some regression modeling in Excel. Other resources may exist to learn about regression, but the instruction in MOOCs is often of higher quality. Instead of watching a full course, you might find a single lesson within a broader statistics course and watch just that lesson. Many of the platforms will let you do this sampling for free, though others, like Lynda.com, run on a subscription basis.
[ Full article available at Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2016/07/3-ways-to-use-moocs-to-advance-your-career ]