Have you just retired, emptied your nest, changed careers, or simply want to expand your intellectual horizons? If so, you must check out the amazing online educational platform currently at everyone’s disposal.
MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, enable tens of thousands of students to enroll in courses taught by some of the most talented professors and researchers in the world. In a few short years, the popularity of MOOCs has exploded, now reaching millions of lifelong students around the globe. Don’t believe us? Check out Sebastian Thrun’s course: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, currently available online. Many of these courses are completely free and accessible to you at any time of day.
MOOCs come in many forms, tailored to meet anyone’s individual needs:
- Self-paced courses
- Deadline-oriented courses
- Courses for individuals
- Courses for group-learning
- College-accredited courses
And students can even work with a MOOCAdviser to help them along the way. For specific information, take a look at the five best reasons for taking a MOOC, courtesy of Diane Thomas at StudentAdvisor:
Reason #1: Get The College Experience
Feeling nostalgic for the good ol’ days of college? Choose a MOOC from Coursera or edX that partners with hundreds of the top colleges and universities around the globe. These courses are bona fide college-level courses taught by university professors. You will participate with thousands of other students in online chat rooms. How active you become will be up to you – much like in the traditional classroom.
This is one of the most popular courses on the Coursera platform.
This course was designed exclusively for edX and is taught by Eric Lander, one of the founders of the famous Human Genome Project.
If self-paced classes sound better to you, try a MOOC from the Saylor Foundation. Credentialed professors teach Saylor’s college-level courses and each course ends with a certificate of completion. This is a good pick if you’re interested in psychology.
Reason #2: Learn A New Skill
MOOCs are a great resource for updating your skills, both personal and work-related. Udemy and Udacity are two providers that offer more than a thousand courses on the MOOCAdvsior website. Udemy offers a mix of free and fee-based, self-paced classes taught by industry experts. Udacity’s free college-level courses encourage students to become active in community forums.
Update your skill set with great classes like these:
- House Flipping: How To Flip A House & Divorce Your 9-5 (Udemy)
- Design of Computer Programs: Programming Principles (Udacity)
Reason #3: Broaden Your Horizons – Literally
MOOCs, particularly MOOCs offered by colleges, are very popular with international students. These MOOCs give students access to internationally renowned professors and institutions, offering opportunities to practice writing and communicating in new languages. Coursera, for example, offers MOOCs in six languages other than English. You can sign up for MOOCs to gather international friends and penpals, and use MOOCs as places to practice your foreign language skills.
- From the Big Bang To Dark Energy (Coursera)
This is a sample of a course taught in English by Professor Hitoshi Murayama of The University of Tokyo.
This class is taught in Mandarin with English subtitles from Tsinghua University
Reason #4: Professional Development
MOOCs are convenient for fulfilling professional development requirements, providing legitimate certificates of completion. Don’t forget to include the courses you take on your resume and in your LinkedIn profile.
Here are two new options for middle and high school teachers to take through Coursera’s partnership with Exploratorium:
- Integrating Engineering Into Your Science Classroom
- Tinkering Fundamentals: Integrating Making Activities Into Your STEM Classroom
Saylor also has a section of courses specifically designed for professional development, broken down into Workplace Skills, Job Search Skills and Career Advancement. Here’s a sample from each:
Reason #5: Receive College Credit
Although most MOOCs do not currently count for college credit, experimentation has begun in that direction. The American Council on Education’s Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit) has recommended five Coursera courses for college credit, and more are expected to follow if successful:
- Pre-Calculus from the University of California, Irvine
- Introduction to Genetics and Evolution from Duke University
- Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach from Duke University
- Calculus: Single Variable from the University of Pennsylvania
- Algebra from the University of California, Irvine
Other MOOCs are slowly being approved for college transfer credit. The National College Credit Recommendation Service, for instance, has approved three of Saylor’s courses for transfer credits at seven colleges. These courses are:
As you can see, MOOCs can literally bring Ivy League education to your living room, at no cost to you. This is a massive blessing at any stage in life, but especially in retirement. It is convenient, and there are countless courses to choose from. With the resources provided by MOOCs, you will be able to enjoy a lifetime of learning from your couch!
What online courses have you taken and enjoyed? What resources have you found helpful? Share your experiences below!