Continuing education is a critical part of your professional development. There are many opportunities to further your education including a formal graduate degree (on campus or online), a professional certificate program from a college continuing education program, or a MOOC.
What is a MOOC and how can you utilize a MOOC for professional development?
A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aiming at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and TAs. [Wikipedia]
Last November, the New York Times declared that 2012 was The Year of the MOOC. The leading MOOCs are Coursera, edX and Udacity. These platforms are associated with top-ranked colleges and universities including: Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Georgetown, Brown and Penn. Most of the courses are free and many offer a certificate of completion or other similar credential when you complete the course. Also, online courses offer flexibility that you won’t get from a traditional classroom-based course.
Here are a several courses that you might consider as part of your individual professional development plan:
- Introduction to Finance
- Critical Perspective on Management
- An Introduction to Operations Management
- An Introduction to Financial Accounting
- Introduction to Statistics
- How to Build a Startup
Of the three MOOCs highlighted here, Coursera offers the most courses that are relevant for general professional development. The suggested courses make sense if you don’t have previous experience in a particular subject. For example, if you are pursuing a management role and will be responsible for managing a budget, an accounting course will be useful. Nearly everyone will benefit in their careers with a solid understanding of statistics. MOOCs provide a convenient, low cost (or no cost) method to build a portfolio of skills that will support your professional goals.