All About MOOCs

Hi everyone.  This update is all about MOOCs and how they’re helping me start my own business.

First up, what’s a MOOC?  MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.  As the name implies, these are massive online courses that are open to anyone, anywhere, and can cover almost anything.  You name the area of interest, and there’s likely a MOOC for it.

Where to Find MOOCs

A great place to start when looking into courses is  MOOC List.  Think of it as a directory for MOOCs.  From here you can search using areas of interest, providers, language, types of certificates offered, etc.

MOOC List also includes reviews about each course so you can get an idea on its quality before enrolling.  Once you’ve found a course you’re interested in, it’s just a matter of clicking the link that will take you to the course’s website, and enroll.  MOOC List doesn’t offer any courses itself.  It’s just a collection of links and reviews of courses offered by other entities.  You don’t even need to make an account for MOOC List if you don’t want to.  You can just use it as a base for finding anything of interest and leave it at that.  Of course, if you want to leave reviews or create a list of MOOCs you’re interested in, then you will need to create an account with MOOC List.

Costs and Pricing

The MOOCs listed on MOOC List are free.  The only time a cost comes up for these courses is if you require certification once the course is complete.  If you don’t require certification, then you won’t need to pay a cent.  The cost for certification depends on who’s offering the course.

Courses offered or listed elsewhere may not be free.  For example, I’ve found some courses of interest through StackSocial.  Just like MOOC List, StackSocial has lots of courses from different sources, but unlike MOOC List, many of these are paid courses.  I’ll go into further detail about StackSocial another time, but I suggest having a look at it.  Just keep in mind that, if you’re anything like me, you will find a lot of interesting courses, and it will add up pretty quickly.

My Thoughts and Opinions

So, now that we’ve got the gist of what a MOOC is, where to find them, and how much they cost, what do I think?  Well, so far so good.  I’ve mainly been doing business start-up and business management MOOCs through Udacity (How to Build a Start Up course), Saylor Acadmey (Principles of Marketing, Corporate Communication, and Small Business Management courses), and FutureLearn (Starting a Business series).

Each of these courses are completely different; for example, the Starting a Business series through FutureLearn are very short; each one only being about two weeks long.  Meanwhile, the Udacity and Saylor Academy courses are much more in-depth and take a lot longer.  Thankfully most MOOCs allow you to study at your own pace.

Each of them include videos, podcasts, reading, links and information for other resources, and even allow interaction with other students.

Conclusion

I highly recommend checking out MOOCs, regardless of whether it’s for professional or personal development.  Just keep in mind that you may find a lot more MOOCs that you want to do than you have time to do them.  Many of the courses are offered as ‘learn at your own pace’, but there are the odd few that are timed.  Generally speaking, many of the timed ones will re-open again at a later date, so don’t worry too much if you miss out on one, or haven’t got the time.