Free is good! But what’s a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)? MOOCs are courses offered by a variety of universities and organizations to help students gain exposure to a vast array of courses. Titles ranging from philosophy, strategy, history, and finance to public speaking and how to make beer. All of these classes can be taken online at minimal or no cost. Institutions large and small, including Wharton, Stanford, Harvard, and UW-Whitewater along with organizations such as IBM, PWC, and National Geographic offer free or near-free online courses.

Some courses can be completed in an hour or two. Others take multiple months. Most can be completed at your own pace online. The free IBM Blockchain MOOC is approximately a two to three-hour commitment. If you are in IT, and even if you are not, might that be recognizable on your resume or a nice addition to include with the badge on your LinkedIn profile? I have it on mine!

Started around 2012, two organizations took the lead in offering courses. Coursera was started by two Stanford University professors as a private for-profit. At about the same time, a non-profit group coordinated by Harvard and MIT was created, edX, with its first course attracting over 150,000 students! Other organizations such as Udemy, Udacity, Futurelearn, Khan Academy, and LinkedIn Learning also have amazing offerings.

Typical MOOC classes average around 40,000 students, so don’t expect that personalized attention. What you do get is exposure to a variety of classes in a multitude of disciplines. Most of the courses can be taken for free. If you want to get a verified certificate and earn a badge, it usually costs $49-$99 per course. Some of the organizations are offering a monthly subscription at a fixed monthly rate. The IBM Blockchain MOOC mentioned above, titled Blockchain Essentials v2 (https://cognitiveclass.ai/courses/blockchain-course), is free and even includes a badge! Some organizations offer a series of classes leading to a certificate. PWC offers a five-course Data Analytics sequence titled: “Data Analysis and Presentation Skills: the PWC Approach Specialization.” Estimated to take six months to complete at three hours a week, not only is the information solid but if you are seeking an accounting position with ANY CPA firm, do you think having PWC on your profile or resume might be valuable (details at https://www.coursera.org/specializations/pwc-analytics)? It also gives you something to talk about in an interview as those kinds of things are exactly what interviewers look for to explore. It will set you apart.

So why this article now, and did we say something about free? Coursera has opened the floodgates by offering free full access to over 3,800 courses for college students. You do need to enroll by 7/31/20 and complete by 9/30/20, and you do need a college email address, but if you might want to put Wharton or the University of London on your profile/resume, without having to get on a plane to participate, now would be a great time! And no, I don’t receive a 20% commission (actually I do, as 20% of 0 is still 0), but I am continuously impressed by the variety of subjects and depth available. I have been recommending MOOCs for years to my students and colleagues (and now you) and will still continue to do so. Hopefully, you or someone you know will be able to take advantage of these amazing offerings. It’s all about lifelong learning! Pursue it!!

Scott Dell, CPA, MBA, MAE, DBA, a.k.a Dr. Scott, is an experienced academic, entrepreneur, manager, and Navy veteran teaching students of all ages how to put their best foot forward. He helps his students develop soft skills while teaching the hard skills associated with getting hired. He presents regularly on LinkedIn and other career-related topics – soon to be published on Amazon’s KBP with an eBook and paperback offering. Scott is currently an accounting faculty member at Francis Marion University’s School of Business, an AACSB institution, located in Florence, SC (www.FMarion.edu). Scott is also a partner and Chief Communications Officer in an educational start-up, American Educational Systems (www.IntroEDGE.com), based in North Carolina. Dr. Scott may be contacted directly at http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/ScottDell.


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