Leadership and Professional Growth

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

January 11, 2017   /
Crystal Petrello, MS, RDN, LD

What is a MOOC?

MOOC is an acronym for massive open online course. The focus for the curriculum is to learn or sharpen a skill. There is no application or admissions process, which saves time and money. MOOCs can be a valuable tool to enhance your skills and ability in an increasingly competitive job market. 

MOOCS allow access to students around the world to a variety of universities. The content is often the same as that delivered in the university classroom. Since it is presented to thousands of people via the internet, the presentation of the material is important. Usually there are pre-recorded lectures, homework, and online forums. 

It is not the traditional educational experience where you pay to participate and earn credit. MOOCs are offered through the internet free of cost. If interested, you can purchase a certificate of completion. This can cost up to $100 for each class completed. Course material and lectures are free. For instance, if there is a book referenced, the entire book or the portion of the book may be available to read for free. 

Explore: the free classes allow the freedom to explore a new career or school path. Take a course to get a feel for a new subject area.

New skills: if you need new skills but college credits are not necessary. This is perfect for a health professional that needs to learn more about running a business, creating a website, or needs new management skills.

Refreshers: taking the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) or helping a child with a class. Take a refresher course in math, science, or history. 

Understanding: learn more about your co-professionals’ skills such as midwifery or nursing. 

Diversity: expand your knowledge of other cultures, health systems, and history. 

Job hunting: use your time productively while looking for a job. Add skills learned through a MOOC to your resume. 

Network: owing to the online nature of MOOCs, you have the ability to meet classmates from around the world with similar interests and career paths. 

Mentorship: when changing or entering a new career, the conversation through classes and classmates will provide exposure to the language of the prospective industry. 

Client education: have a client that is really interested in nutrition but you do not have the time to teach them Nutrition 101 Refer them to a MOOC!

Fun: learn something new for you! If you are interested in a new creative hobby, like piano or art history,then try out courses on Kadenze (https://www.kadenze.com/). 

Recommended sites*

*For an extended list of MOOC websites (universities and nonprofits), and to search by interest, go to https://www.mooc-list.com.

References and recommended readings

McGuire R. The best MOOC provider: A review of Coursera, Udacity and Edx. Skilledup for Learners website. http://www.skilledup.com/articles/the-best-mooc-provider-a-review-of-coursera-udacity-and-edx. Published June 19, 2014. Accessed July 20, 2015.

MOOCs: Top 10 sites for free education with elite universities. BDPA Detroit Chapter website. http://www.bdpa-detroit.org/portal/index.php/comittees/high-school-computer-competition-hscc/29-education/57-moocs-top-10-sites-for-free-education-with-elite-universities.html. Accessed July 20, 2015. 

Pappano L. The year of the MOOC. New York Times website. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html?_r=1. Published November 2, 2012. Accessed July 20, 2015.

Sadlouskos D. Back to school: How recent college graduates can use MOOCs to land a first job. MOOC News and Reviews website. http://moocnewsandreviews.com/back-to-school-how-recent-college-graduates-can-use-moocs-to-land-a-first-job/. Published June 28, 2013. Accessed July 20, 2015. 

Stott P. Can a MOOC boost your career? This one can! Vault website. http://www.vault.com/blog/job-search/can-a-mooc-boost-your-career-this-one-can/. Published June 04, 2013. Accessed July 20, 2015. 

When take a MOOC focus on skills, not credits. The Aquent Blog website. http://aquent.com/blog/when-taking-a-mooc-focus-on-skills-not-credits. Published April 29, 2013. Accessed July 20, 2015.