There is no doubt that Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are really shaking up the education industry - with millions of people taking the opportunity to study for free from anywhere in the world.
The potential of MOOCs is mind-blowing, but the choice available can be a little intimidating to those new to this way of learning, or even to the seasoned MOOC-pro, looking for their next course.
With everything from an Astronomy course to a World Music course on offer through Open2Study how on earth can anyone choose which course (or courses) to take? Before you get carried away and sign up to everything, here are a few tips to help you make your decision.
What are your goals?
With other MOOC providers you might look at the length of the course, or the kinds of assessment methods used, to help you decide which one to take. On Open2Study however, all courses follow a similar pattern - they last four weeks and are assessed by multiple choice quizzes. So this isn’t really a deciding factor when choosing between Open2Study courses.
It’s best to think about your reasons for choosing to study in the first place. Are you trying to learn something to develop your career, or to help you to get your dream job? Do you want to build on your existing qualifications, or learn something new just for fun? The answer to this question will help you to decide which course is right for you.
If you are looking to boost your employability or get ahead in your career, then it makes sense to take a course that is related to your chosen career path. This will be personal to you, depending on what your job involves and what skills and knowledge you want to gain. For instance, if you were a Manager in the leisure industry you might want to take ‘Sports and Recreation Management’, whereas ‘Writing for the Web’ could be more relevant to someone in a marketing or communications role.
It might be that you find there are no Open2Study courses that fit exactly with your job. If this is the case then you could try going for a course that teaches transferrable skills. This just means that the skills you will gain can be applied to any industry or role, or even to your personal life. Examples include leadership, negotiation and teamwork - these are useful for everyone no matter their position, and there are Open2Study MOOCs available focusing on these topics.
Is a self-paced course right for you?
Unlike many MOOC providers, Open2Study offers some self-paced courses. This means that instead of studying at the same pace as everyone else who is taking the course and completing one assessment a week, you can progress through your MOOC at your own pace.
This could be a good option for you if you want or need to speed through the material quicker than the four weeks required by other courses. The only problem is that all of your fellow students will be at different stages of the course at any one time. This might make you feel more isolated, since it might be more difficult to use the forums to connect with people who are studying the same module as you. Consequently, you could miss out on a lot of the community spirit and support that learners can gain from the forums.
There is also the temptation to plough through the material too quickly, complete the course and then immediately forget everything you’ve learned. It takes a lot of self-discipline to not only study online but also to make sure you are getting the most out of what you’re doing, based on your needs and expectations of the course. If you fear you might get carried away, complete the course in one night and not remember any of it, then perhaps a self-paced course is not your best option.
Try two (or three!) at a time
If you really can’t decide on one course, then you shouldn’t have a problem taking two or even three at a time. Again, the important thing to consider is whether you can balance your time to not only complete the course but also get the most out of it and remember something about it once you’ve finished. There is no point taking a course just to say that you’ve taken it, and then realise that you can’t remember a thing you’ve learned.
Beware of getting over excited and taking all the courses you like right away. One of the great things about Open2Study is that courses run every five weeks, so there is no need to feel rushed or pressured now - your favourite courses aren’t going anywhere!
How did you choose which courses to study? Let me know in the comments!
You can also check out the full list of free courses available here.
This post comes to you from our guest blogger, Polly Foster.
A recent graduate, Polly is currently working at the University of Bath helping students develop entrepreneurial skills. Studying digital marketing part-time and with a passion for education, careers and all things creative, she would love to make a living as a freelance writer. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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