WhatÂs a MOOC?
ItÂs a trendy name for online college courses–Massive Open Online Courses.
ItÂs college without the beer pong.
In many professions, itÂs common to have a requirement to do continuing education. Accountants, educators, attorneys, and many others are obligated to keep learning in order to maintain their professional status. Entrepreneurs should be doing it voluntarily.
Why You Should Always Be Learning
Even if you have 100 business and marketing blogs in your RSS reader, you should still go deeper. With the latest online courseware technology, you can communicate with fellow students, receive the information in video and/or audio format, work on collaborative projects, and often get course materials as well. This is a much richer experience than the hit-or-miss method of reading blog posts or e-books.
Stephen Covey’s 7th Habit of Highly Successful People is “sharpen the saw.” Anyone who wants to run a successful business with longevity should pay attention to this important habit.
Sharpening the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have–you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
A key component of many MOOCs is the sharing of real-world experiences and projects by the participants. You may get inspiration, support, and new ideas by joining. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, this could be something to give you a good kick in the pants.
First, Decide What You’re Studying
There are courses available on a huge array of subjects. You can either follow a course series from a specific institution, or set up your own path of study.
Are you interested in honing your branding skills? Need help with market research? Want to build on your knowledge of competitive analysis? Do some research and gather a group of courses that you can “stack” consecutively for maximum reinforcement of the key concepts.
A Sampling of MOOC Resources
- edx.org (https://www.edx.org/) – Free online courses for an array of schools, sortable by category/subject area. This is a collaborative effort by several institutions. Includes a lot of Ivy League content.
- MITOpenCourseWare (ocw.mit.edu) – Free online courses from MIT; includes a marketing subject area.
- Entrepreneurship Corner (ecorner.stanford.edu) – Stanford’s excellent series of videos and podcasts for entrepreneurs. There is a mobile app available as well.
- MOOC List (http://www.mooc-list.com/) – An aggregator site that is searchable by subject; huge list of MOOCs from all over the web.
Drawbacks of the MOOC
- You may not earn credits; if you’re looking to end up with a certification or course credits, check up-front. Some offer college credits and some do not.
- Might be outdated material (check the date on the course before starting it…some were recorded a long time ago, and best practices do change).
- You get what you pay for. If it’s free, remember that you won’t have full attention from the professor, and there may not be technical support available if you have problems accessing the course.
- Might not be structured enough for some types of learners. Most MOOCs are free-flowing and study-at-your-own pace. This won’t work if you don’t have some discipline to keep going.
So, are you ready to give it a try? Please share any good online courses you’ve experienced already!