How to Make the Most Out of MOOCs

Feel like taking a business class at Harvard? What about an advanced math course at MIT? These prestigious schools may seem pretty impossible to get into, but with the recent resurgence of the new and improved MOOCs, or "massively open online courses," taking a class at an ivy league is within your reach.


Advancement in any career depends on continued education, but distance, scheduling conflicts, and the cost of tuition can deter individuals from reaching their educational goals. MOOCs are free to anyone who wants to sign up and the course choices are vast; ranging from finance to cosmetology. MOOC classes are offered by universities, non-profits, and colleges across the world from small schools to large, prestigious institutions. These classes use an online learning platform which can be accessed at any time from just about anywhere with an internet connection. Lectures are delivered via transcript, audio clips, and video and links are provided to class discussions, quizzes, and required reading materials. This makes MOOCs the most complete, versatile, and cost effective online learning choice for the career professional.

Getting Started with MOOCs

The first step to getting the most out of your MOOCs is to set a clear long term and short term educational goals before signing up for classes. Though you may not be paying cash for your training, your time is your investment. Make sure that your goals are attainable; no one signs up for 11 classes while also working full time. Your goals should define why you are taking the course(s), the length of time in which you intend to complete your MOOCs, and what you intend to gain from the classes.

Adapting Your Schedule

As with any new venture, time management extremely important. When getting started with your MOOCs, make sure you block off time during your week which is dedicated specifically to class work and study to limit distractions. 

Tools for Class 

Have your notebook and handheld ready. Taking notes during lecture and when reviewing class materials is the key to reinforcing what you are learning. Get a separate notebook for each class and label each with specific class information for better organisation. Print out and evaluate your syllabus. This will be your guide for study, task scheduling, and recording milestones. 

Pace Yourself

It may have been a while since you were in school, so do take into account that you may encounter times when you are overwhelmed with coursework. This is not uncommon and you need to plan ahead to stay motivated and on course. Online learning can become especially overwhelming since all of the course information is available immediately from start to finish. This is where class division comes into play. Divide the course into sections and set a date for each section’s completion. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to this type of training; take each section one step at a time and give yourself ample time for mastering each section before proceeding.

Engage with Other Learners

When trying out new things, it always helps to know others are in the same boat. Most MOOCs invite students to participate in lectures, forums, and discussions. Get involved with your fellow students by reaching out. This can boost your motivation, help you stay on track, and gain insight through your classmates’ perspective on certain subjects.

MOOCs offer you the opportunity to enrich both your life and career. Remember to be adventurous; allow yourself to be wondrous and open minded. Choosing to continue your learning is commendable, especially if you are switching careers, are in between careers, or are trying to advance in your field. Nothing is more difficult than trying something new, but by sticking to task, keeping organised, and reaching out to others you can make the most out of your MOOC journey.


Image via Friedman




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