An online education is no longer taboo
Proficiency with Microsoft Excel 2003 may have been worth noting on an entry-level resume 10 years ago, but including it today wouldn’t be nearly as impressive. Likewise, while listing an online class certification may have been unthinkable 10 years ago, the idea of obtaining an education outside the classroom is no longer taboo. Both the tools and the ways in which we learn how to use them have changed drastically over the past decade.
Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs) where students around the globe can learn together and receive digital certification for classes taught by accredited post-secondary instructors are becoming increasingly popular and forcing traditional schools to think outside the campus. Most academic organizations already offer some distance education courses and a hybrid of online and classroom learning, but their high tuition costs cannot compete with the low-budget or free training available through sites like Coursera.org or edX.org and Lynda.com.
To discover new fields of interest, students can enroll in free classes taught by actual Harvard and MIT instructors through edX.org. Students can also study various subjects such as European Union law with professors in the EU or elsewhere through coursera.org. Both MOOCs offer certifications, and at least five Coursera courses have been recommended for college credit in the USA by the American Council on Education.
In addition to providing free online lectures and forums, these organizations also offer course readings free of charge through generous partnerships with textbook publishers.
For individuals looking to advance their skills in specific subjects, websites like Lynda.com offer affordable training for upgraded software programs like Adobe CS6 Photoshop, and programming languages like HTML5. These types of in-depth courses were once only available through brick-and-mortar institutions, but are now readily available when you are online.
Though there will always be value in a certified education through an accredited post-secondary institution, companies like Microsoft, NBC, and Yahoo are already recognizing the value of MOOCs by subscribing to company education plans and adopting their course certifications as ways to differentiate employees who continue to learn beyond the classroom.