Guest Writer: Christina Crowe
Are you looking to expand your skill set, hone your craft, or jump headlong into a new profession? Maybe you want to get ahead, supplementing coursework with online resources so you can pass your tests and ace that final exam. No matter where you are in your career, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), can equip you with the knowledge to succeed.
I’ve been a professional freelance writer since 2008, crafting copy for small businesses all around the world. As my love for writing grew, my interest for web development exploded. One sunny afternoon in 2012, a colleague convinced me to join Codecademy, a MOOC well-known for its interactive coding exercises. Little did I know that this simple website would create a landslide of opportunities, completely changing my career.
You too can develop the essential skills needed to push forward in your career, create a thriving business, and explore your own personal interests. MOOCs provide a platform where you can study at your own pace, complete assignments, and collaborate with students without physically sitting in a classroom. Armed with a laptop and Internet connection, it’s possible to receive a higher education withoutemptying your bank account or paying a hefty sum. Cheaper than traditional classes, these MOOCs will blow you away.
Do you run your own business? Eduson can sharpen your business and marketing skills. Eduson even features courses from top business schools around the world. With countless videos to choose from, you’ll master the subject matter by taking tests, submitting homework assignments, and completing final exams. If you pass the mid-terms and final exam, you’re awarded with a diploma. Each course conveniently displays an estimated number of hours it will take to complete the lessons. Once completed, you can compare how well you’re doing on the student ranking system. Prices vary from course to course. While some courses are free, others cost up to $99.
Lynda guides you through advanced features of your favorite services, with over 2,318 high-quality video tutorials about business, audio and video production, 3D and animation, photography, development, and design. Understand technology with short video walkthroughs designed for complete novices and skilled professionals. While there are no homework assignments or forums to interact with other students, you can make your resume stand out by becoming certified in the courses you take. Don’t want to commit long term? Pay monthly ($25) or on a yearly basis ($250) as you grow your creative career. Upgrade to a premium plan and gain access to exercise files that help you learn the subject material. Lynda also offers a 7-day free trial. (Read Udemy vs Lynda here.)
When Skillshare was first developed, you had to attend live classes, often at coffee shops, parks, and home kitchens. Now you can learn anything, from culinary to business, without leaving your home. Form groups and study over coffee. Or listen to instruction videos, view live streams, and complete projects that carry your career forward. Anyone can earn revenue for creating courses. Some courses dig deeply into the subject matter while others merely touch the surface. Before signing up, view a course overview, scan reviews, and peruse final projects submitted by real students. Pay a small fee for every class you attend, most ranging from $15 to $25. (Read Udemy vs Skillshare here.)
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Skillfeed gives your career a boost with over 1,800 courses, 26,000 video tutorials, and 2,855 hours of learning. Learn both creative and technical skills by watching instruction videos about design, photography, video production, web development, 3D and motion graphics, mobile development, and more. A service from Shutterstock, anyone can get paid to upload videos. This might create a problem, as the quality of your education greatly depends on the instructor teaching. But since Shutterstock rewards instructors based on video views, you can discover high-quality courses by filtering your search by popularity. Watch video tutorials and download project files to help you complete lessons. For $19 per month and a 7-day free trial, Skillfeed will help your creative profession excel.
With an assortment of courses for beginners and experts alike, Tuts Plus Premium offers in-depth video and text tutorials on design, development, photography, business, audio, and video production. You can even supplement your learning with dozens of top-selling e-books, available for free download. While there are no homework assignments in between videos or certificates after completing a course, quizzes are available for some courses. Quizzes aren’t scored though. Even so, the vast volume of tutorials and high-production videos make Tuts Plus Premium worth the purchase. Experience Tuts Plus Premium for yourself by taking the free 30 Days to Learn HTML and CSS course Envato, the parent company of Tuts Plus Premium, also offers a large collection of e-learning websites to help you develop your portfolio. For the cost of membership ($19 per month or $180 per year), you receive over 749 hours of video, 101 e-books worth over $1,470, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. (Read EnvatoTuts+ review here.)
With over 10,000 courses, Udemy helps you pursue your goals. Learn about business, technology, design, art, photography, health, fitness, mathematics, science, education, foreign languages, humanities, music, crafts, sports, programming, and anything else you can think of. From novice to expert, Udemy offers a course for everyone. Follow your passion, develop your career, or start a new business by watching video lectures, viewing PowerPoint slides, reading PDFs, or downloading course files. Though anyone who signs up can upload videos to Udemy, you’ll find a course overview, video summary, information about the instructor, and student reviews prior to registering for a course. While courses vary in price, lessons tend to be around $20 to $200 with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can even take a large number of courses for free.
Skip rush hour traffic and expensive gas prices. WizIQ offers a platform where you can learn from experienced teachers in an environment similar to the classroom. Receive quality instruction about technology, programming, math, foreign languages, English, grammar, music, health, accounting, finance, and fashion. You can even take courses that help you study for standardized tests. Subject experts support you every step of the way as you develop essential skills for your profession, improve your business, increase productivity, or explore personal interests. Retain knowledge with tests, homework assignments, live video streams, message boards, and downloadable files. While courses range in price from $5 to over $400, membership is completely free. Simply find a subject to study and pay a one-time fee for that course.
With over 3,500 training videos, Grovo teaches students how to use advanced features of their favorite services. Learn how to promote your business, manage your workload, and improve your daily routine with products you use every day. When you first sign up, you’ll be given a short questionnaire that is used to personalize your learning experience on Grovo. Listen to crisp audio, watch action-packed videos, and experience a hands-on teaching approach. A progress meter keeps you focused and badges inspire action. Take quizzes, read transcripts, and download lesson files as you explore new concepts. While Grovo does offer a free trial period, then you can upgrade your membership for $15.95 per month, $99 per year, or a one-time $399 lifetime fee for access to more video tutorials and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
No funds to spare? Don’t worry. Some learning providers offer free online classes, often with the same high-quality education as a paid service. These MOOCs you don’t want to miss.
Propel your career forward with over 400 courses offered by Coursera. Coursera is partnered with top universities, offering only the highest quality education on topics like art, science, business, artificial intelligence, engineering, security, theory, economics, finance, nutrition, health, humanities, law, math, music, and data analysis. Learning on Coursera is much like studying at a real university. Most courses are 6 to 12 weeks long, complete with video lectures and PDF files. Quizzes and homework assignments let you practice what you learn, while weekly deadlines keep you motivated. Coursera also offers a Signature Track, where you can earn verified certificates to add to resumes for a fee. Not all courses are available either. You’ll often need to wait for classes to begin at specific dates. While some courses are available for self-study and can be started at any time, working at your own pace has its disadvantages. You won’t receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course and you won’t receive further help from instructors. (Read full Coursera review here.)
From law to engineering, EdX offers a course for everyone. Learn about science, business, programming, finance, electronics, engineering, ethics, food, health, history, humanities, law, literature, math, music, philosophy, and statistics from top universities. You’ll need to wait for classes to start before you can enroll into them. View a lesson overview and information about the instructor prior to signing up. EdX also conveniently lets you know the number of estimated hours you’ll need to complete each week in order to finish lessons. Instead of working at your own pace, you work against the clock with deadlines, lectures, and assignments. Earn a certificate after successfully completing lessons and receive a verified certificate to use on resumes after completing a proctored exam (for a small fee).
Owned by The Open University, FutureLearn offers courses on a variety of subjects from top universities in the United Kingdom. While classes begin on set dates, you can enroll in a course within two weeks after the class has started. Watch quality videos, peruse in-depth articles, and listen to audio files. Reinforce concepts with weekly assignments, quizzes, and scored tests. When you’re done, mark items on your To Do list as complete. After you’ve completed a course, you have the option of purchasing a Statement of Participation, certificates that can be verified and placed on portfolios to highlight qualifications. (Read FutureLearn Review here.)
Chiefly known for its math courses, Khan Academy also teaches students about science, economics, finance, history, and computer programming. Video-based courses embrace a casual teaching style with interactive challenges and achievements. Khan Academy inspires you to succeed by rewarding you points after every lesson, which you can accumulate to collect badges. Sign up with a coach or mentor who will support you on your educational journey, tracking your progress and answering questions when you get stuck. Khan Academy is an excellent resource to supplement classwork. (Read Udemy vs Khan Academy here.)
With courses offered from high-class universities, NovoEd teaches students about business, finance, education, design, math, science, and humanities. Courses run only on the dates specified, so you’ll need to stay disciplined to meet assignment deadlines. Work with students as you study the coursework, exchange ideas, and complete homework assignments. Some courses offer a Statement of Accomplishment, signed by your instructor once you've completed your lessons. Most courses are free, but there are some paid classes that increase in price, starting at $100. There are also limited courses to enroll into.
Ruby Monk is a product of Code Monk, teaching you how to program with interactive courses and fun exercises. Learn the basics of developing programs with Ruby, an object-oriented programming language. As you work through the lessons, you’ll learn advanced concepts that will jump start your Ruby development career. Receive immediate results when you run code in the console. Courses are designed in such a way that you’ll quickly feel as though you’re being trained by the master of Ruby himself. Challenge yourself even further with Python Monk, another resource in the Code Monk library.
Udacity was founded as a Stanford University experiment and has since grown to offer introductory and advanced courses on business, computer science, design, mathematics, and science. Udacity empowers students to excel with short, high-quality videos regularly separated by quizzes and assignments. With simple progress meters and a certificate of completion after finishing the final exam, you stay motivated as you collaborate with other students on message boards. Take courses at any time without the stress of deadlines. On the flip side, you might be tempted to procrastinate. But with discipline, you can pave the road to success. For a small fee, you can even receive college credit after mastering the subject material. And if you upload a resume on your profile, Udacity will find work for you by handing your credentials to partnering companies. While courses are limited, the quality of instruction is well worth the time spent. (Read Udacity review here.)
Some universities grant free access to online college courses, where you can view class material and watch video lectures as if you’re right there attending class. On the other hand, an instructor won’t be there to guide you if you get stuck.
Still have time to burn? These resources are packed with instruction videos, courses, and tutorials.
So far I've reviewed 20 MOOCs, listing over 40 resources to further your learning. The classes you take and skills you develop depend on your own objectives. While every MOOC has its own strengths and weaknesses, some online training courses are more tailored to your individual goals. By researching your options, you can find the right service to launch your career forward.
Information can only get you so far. It’s what you do with that information, the actions you take, that will really have an impact on your career. As you sit at your desk feeding your brain with knowledge, remember to take actionable steps to reach your goals.
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