Enhance your summer with online courses

The sun is shining bright, the trees are beginning to look green again – summer is almost here. Most of us are probably looking forward to a welcome break from managing classes, preparing for exams, stressing over research, and perhaps also balancing multiple jobs.

While summer is the time to recharge your batteries, it also provides a great opportunity to pick up some new skills – to enhance your knowledge, as well as to acquire expertise in an area that will promote some career benefits. In recent times, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), hosted by different universities on platforms such as Coursera, Lynda, edX, Udacity, have become hugely popular. Multiple surveys conducted on the efficacy of MOOCs have also suggested that a large percentage of individuals who have participated in these, derive tangible benefits from them, such as getting a new job, starting a business, or getting a promotion.[1] If that does not motivate you to explore the offerings for this summer, here are some more reasons why you should seriously consider enrolling in online courses:

  • Online courses seem to have something for everyone; from courses in advanced data analytics to German opera, the topics on which one can find courses are very wide-ranging. If there is something on which you have wanted to educate yourself for a long time, or if you think that acquiring certain skills will give you an edge above other candidates on the job market, or if you simply chance across some courses that pique your interest, summer is the perfect time for you to enroll and learn about these subjects. Online courses are also designed to fit varying degrees of expertise on a topic – there are beginner’s level courses, as well as more advanced explorations of areas. While many of these courses are offered for free, some might involve paying a registration fee, or there might be a charge in order to get a certificate of completion. Do your research to find out what would best meet your needs.
  • Online courses offer flexibility. One of the main merits of enrolling in an online course is that for many you can adjust the schedule to your own convenience. You can choose to watch the videos, and do the assigned homework, whenever it suits you– from the comfort of your home, or from the beach as you sip on a cool drink. Moreover, many of the courses are self-paced, so you can master the content without having to worry about learning the material before the next test; you can take the tests whenever you feel sufficiently prepared. Hence, you can finish an online course in as little, or as much time as you require.
  • Online courses might give you the chance to work on projects that you can showcase to potential employers. Research shows that employers are becoming increasingly receptive to the idea of hiring people who have acquired the relevant expertise through online courses.[2] You can acquire knowledge on certain subjects through online courses, and this in turn might qualify you for a job which looks for a candidate who possesses that particular skill set. It would also be highly recommended that you try to find online courses which provide you with the opportunity to complete a project, so that you can refer to it to demonstrate your competence.

There are many online courses, and it is very important to do your research before enrolling, to determine the quality of the training being offered. Here is wishing you a productive summer with online courses!

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[1] https://hbr.org/2015/09/whos-benefiting-from-moocs-and-why

https://www.higheredjobs.com/articles/articleDisplay.cfm?ID=722

[2] Radford, Alexandria Walton, et al. “The employer potential of MOOCs: A mixed-methods study of human resource professionals’ thinking on MOOCs.” The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning 15.5 (2014).

By Tithi Basu Mallik
Tithi Basu Mallik Graduate Student Career Programs and Services Graduate Assistant Tithi Basu Mallik