Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are revolutionizing the way education is delivered. They allow a diverse range of people from all over the world to access materials online and complete work at their own pace.

Although they are currently in addition to the traditional University Model and students don’t typically get credit for completing the courses, there are still many benefits to taking part.

Let’s take a closer look …

Often Free to Enroll

Most MOOCs are provided by traditional colleges or in partnership and operate on a freemium model, meaning it’s free to enroll. If you can get the opportunity to free education and materials curated by top professors, then it’s an opportunity you should take!

The downside is you will usually have to pay to get added support from educators, to be entered into examinations, and to earn credits for your work. I.e. the materials are free, and you can certainly learn and better yourself, but it costs money to see real world ‘on paper’ benefits.

Of course, all higher education costs money, so that’s not necessarily a reason to overlook the wide range of MOOCs that are out there. If you want to learn something, go for it!

Note: If you want to learn a new language, MOOCs are a better solution to paying for in-person classes or the popular (but expensive) Rosetta Stone courses.

If you are an unemployed student and need funds to pay for MOOC related examinations or certifications, you might consider getting an online loan for unemployed.

Accessible from Anywhere

MOOCs can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The benefits of this are obvious for international students or those that face other barriers to attending the in-person college experience—physical disability, mental health, responsibility for children etc.

Courses are delivered online via pre-recorded videos and live streaming lectures, other written and multi-media content, and interactive forums.

Rather than having a rigid structure, the course is often developed via online discussions and collaboration between students all over the world. However, the base material is always there for those that want to stick to it.

As well as easy accessibility, the digital nature of courses also allows you to easily track and monitor your progress.

Compliment Your Traditional Studies

Existing students might not see the immediate benefit of joining a MOOC, but if you’re dedicated to your subject, it can be a great compliment to your current studies.

Traditional classes don’t always cover everything you need to know or could know and those that get the best grades have always been those that do extra reading and engage with the material after class.

Using Google is one thing, but a MOOC is developed by professors in the field and has worldwide input. It’s the equivalent of having a private tutor on your laptop.

At the end of the day, it’s one of a growing number of tools to ensure you get the best out of your time at college. Don’t waste it!

Get a Taster of Other Subjects

What do you want to do with your life? This a question you will ask yourself many times and the answer can also change many times. While some lucky people know their path from 5 years-old and stick to it, others are still scratching their head when they’re 30—and, that’s ok.

According to the U.S. Department of Education over 30% of first-time college students change their major within 3 years of enrolment.

So, if you don’t like one subject, how do you decide what to replace it with? MOOCs!

Freely enrolling on one or more of these courses before you even get to college or during your first year or studies, can give you a taster of another field and help you decide what to choose or what to switch to if you think you’re majoring in the wrong subject.

This also has a huge benefit over Googling the subject, because you get to see real course materials and work set at the college level.

MOOCs can also help ease older students in, who have never been to college or are thinking of returning to education after being in the workforce.

Boost Your Soft Skills

While enrolling on a free MOOC course might not directly result in a degree, you will still learn something and that still means you can put it on your CV.

As well as the obvious qualifications and work experience, employers also look out for so-called ‘soft skills’ or informal qualifications that set you apart from others at the same level. And, whether it’s on your CV or not, you will simply be more competent and confident in your abilities if you’ve had additional learning.

Experiencing a MOOC before formally enrolling at a college or changing majors can also help you stand out in your college or scholarship applications. It shows dedication and self-motivation.

So, do you think an MOOC might be for you? Check out some of the leading providers, such as edX, Canvas Network, Coursera, Udacity, NovoED, and iversity. Or, have you enrolled on an MOOC before? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!

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