Traditionally, a lot of people make long and often overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions lists in January. Climb Mount Everest. Run 10 marathons in 10 days. Swim with sharks. Write a bestselling novel. A lot of them sound impressive but very few people will actually achieve them.
So, how about committing to something very specific and manageable, like your personal learning and development? Even if you are already a student, there is always room for trying something different and learning a new skill. Nowadays, accessing additional education is fairly easy, with Massive Online Open Courses being widely available. If you are an engineer in the making, you may find that studying literature helps you with creative thinking or writing. A future medic or lawyer may discover the perks of philosophy. The list is endless, and expanding your knowledge does not need to cost anything; however, it requires personal commitment and good time management – skills which will prove invaluable when you apply for jobs and want your application to stand out from the crowd. You will show your prospective employers that you are hungry for knowledge, determined and self-motivated. Ultimately, anything you do for your own development will benefit you and help you grow personally.
We live in a time of incredible transformation with ongoing debates about the future of the global workforce and the role of education. Even if you are not fully certain about what you would like your career to look like, two things will always stand you in good stead: your willingness to learn and ability to talk about your learning clearly. So, in this post, we will help you stay motivated when learning is just another thing on your to-do list.
Completing a MOOC may feel a bit like climbing Mount Everest: much harder than expected and at times lonely. Also, life gets in the way or you get bored and move on to the next best thing. But if you stick with it, you can add another achievement to your list and you gain extra knowledge which you can apply in other areas of your life. Remember that a lot of MOOCs are delivered by renowned researchers and the technology allows you to engage with others’ thinking and innovative ways of teaching.
Interacting with teaching assistants and participants from all over the world, will deepen your learning and offer you a unique opportunity to continue the subject-related conversations way beyond your course. You may even discover a completely new career and passion for a topic you did not expect to enjoy very much.
Lastly, if English is not your first language and you feel stuck at the intermediate level, participating in a MOOC will help you improve your academic vocabulary and understanding, and reach the advanced level of English sooner.
Where to find a MOOC?
Here are some of the platforms you may want to check out:
These questions may be useful, when you consider which MOOC to pick:
- Does the course offer a certificate? Certificates of completion are not normally free; however, in a lot of cases, you may be able to complete the course for free, if you do not want a certificate.
- Can you gain college/university credit upon completion?
- Is the course accredited?
- Is the course self-paced or scheduled? This is important as it will affect your time management and other commitments.
- Do you have the technology required to, for example, stream videos? Is there an app you can use on your phone?
- Can you join a student community?
- What partner institutions does the course have? Can you access instructor profiles?
So, you have started your MOOC…
Read our few tips that will help you stay motivated and complete your course:
- Check the syllabus before you commit and make sure the course covers what you are interested in.
- Consider the time requirements for your chose course – how many hours do you need to study each week? Is it manageable for you?
- The more effort you put into it the richer your experience will be – set time aside to contribute to the learning community. Taking part in a MOOC is not just about engaging with the course materials. This learning path is designed to be social and cooperative so make sure you participate in the discussions and comment on others’ posts. By supporting their learning you will improve your own experience and knowledge.
- Ask questions!
- Reflect each week on what you have learned, what inspired you and what was difficult. You can set 15 – 30 minutes aside each week just to go over your thoughts and feelings.
- Stay connected with the subject outside the course: read articles, follow blogs, participate in discussions and share your learning.
Completing a MOOC is a fantastic achievement which can lead to unexpected new opportunities. For example, you can transfer your new skills to other areas of your life, such as face-to-face coursework and work. Remember that you will be required to manage your time effectively, stay motivated, communicate and network with others and be proactive in your education while developing strategies to succeed. So, why not give it a go? Trying something new, even if you decide it is not for you, is better than not doing anything at all. You never know where this may lead you.
If you have come across excellent MOOCs, let us know!
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Now that you have read this article, take a few minutes and jot down answers to the questions below. This will help you remember the most insightful points and put together an action plan that works for you:
- What inspired you?
- As a result, what do you want to do more of?
- And what do you want to do less of?
- What will you do next to achieve these goals?