Online Courses … Are They Worth a Try?
Whatever field you are in, lifelong learning is imperative in ensuring career success. Learning is no longer limited to your time at school or university. Whatever your age, academic, or career level, you should never stop learning. You need to keep developing your existing skills and learning new ones to stay on top of your game and be ready for any future opportunities.
There is no excuse not to learn. Today, there are countless learning opportunities and resources at your fingertips. Whatever your interest is, you will find a course or a book that will enrich your knowledge. The Internet is filled with countless sources of information and learning resources, along with thousands of free and paid courses. All you have to do is to choose wisely.
Among the most prominent sources of online learning is what is known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)—accessible to everyone. These usually include video lessons, reading material, discussions with fellow colleagues, communication with the teacher or trainer, tests, and projects, all through your screen. The online platforms that offer such courses have achieved tremendous success in recent years for providing knowledge and learning opportunities for millions of people around the world. Registration for these courses is open to anyone. Online learning saves a lot of time, course prices are reasonable, and because the entire learning experience takes place via a website or an application, it also appeals to younger generations.
Almost all learning platforms offer trial options and free courses. All you need to do is register and start studying. This will give you an opportunity to assess if online learning is right for you before you make the decision to invest money and effort into a full course.
BEFORE TAKING AN ONLINE COURSE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
- You need to have a clear goal. What do you want to get out of the course? Do you want to refine your existing skills or gain a new skill that will help you advance your career? Would you like to explore an entirely new field before embarking on an academic or professional career? Answers to these questions will help you make the right decision.
- Also answer these questions: Does your chosen course suit your abilities and experience? Do you have time for it? Can you afford the fees?
- Assess the course well. Get all the information related to the course: its duration, cost, and the quality of the platform providing the course.
- Also find out about the experience of the teacher or trainer.
- Most online learning courses are offered in English.
- Registration alone is not enough. The benefit you get out of any course depends on the amount of time you dedicate to it.
- Many courses provide you with a certificate to prove that you completed the course, but a certificate alone is not enough to land yourself a job. The certificate is proof that you are keen on learning and are striving hard to develop your skills. It certainly strengthens your CV, but your potential employer will still need to know if you really gained the skills needed to carry out the job.
POPULAR ONLINE LEARNING PLATFORMS
Coursera is the most popular open learning platform on the Internet. You can choose from nearly 3,900 courses offered by prominent universities from all over the world. The courses cover a variety of areas including information technology, data science, engineering, and business. The platform also offers many free courses, while you can also gain limited access to the rest of the courses. This should give you enough time to explore a course thoroughly before deciding if it is right for you. Coursera also allows you to choose a specialization that includes several courses to help you master specific job skills. In addition, some universities offer higher degrees in various specializations through the platform.
edX was founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is also one of best open learning online platforms, as it collaborates with prestigious universities and educational institutions from all over the world, including Hamad Bin Khalifa University, a member of Qatar Foundation. In addition to courses in areas such as business, computer science, data analysis, and engineering, the platform offers a variety of courses in humanities and social sciences such as history, arts, and literature. The most distinguishing feature of edX is its user-friendliness, and the ability to access the content of most courses for free. You only pay if you want to take the main assessments and earn a certificate.
FutureLearn is popular for its courses as well as graduate degrees from universities in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. This platform offers courses in various disciplines including law, literature, art, education, mental health, politics, and business administration.
Open Learning offers some excellent courses in the fields of education, administration, and humanities, many of which are free of charge.
AL JAZEERA MEDIA INSTITUTE
The platform offers several online courses, taught by experts from Al Jazeera Media Network. The courses cover an array of media fields like TV presenting, production, editing, and directing. They provide a comprehensive guide to anyone thinking of exploring media careers, or hoping to acquire new skills to develop his/her career.
This is one of the most popular online learning platforms with courses in areas mostly related to technology, such as programing, artificial intelligence, data science, and automated driving systems. Courses are offered by experts in their respective fields, so the course fees might be higher than on other platforms. Udacity also provides many free courses that give you an opportunity to explore various fields before enrolling.
Udemy is the largest and most diverse learning platform in terms of content, as it offers more than a hundred thousand courses. However, since anyone can teach through Udemy, the quality of courses varies greatly. This means you should evaluate the course and the instructor very well before making the decision to enroll. You can do that by reading the student feedback, watching sample videos of the course, and researching information about the course’s instructor.
Linkedin Learning allows you to learn vital career skills and enrich your knowledge in many fields like management, creativity, and technology. Courses are offered by experts in these fields, all in an easy and simple way that suits all levels of experience.
Skillshare offers various courses in areas such as management, marketing, and programing, as well as creative courses like art, photography, and music. These courses are offered by a select group of trainers. There are also many free courses.
This platform, as its name suggests, focuses on creative fields such as photography, drawing, design, and editing. It offers some free courses and you can also watch samples of each course before making a decision to buy it. You can also choose to subscribe on a monthly or annual basis.