Online Course: Want to take an online course? Here are 4 tips to make sure you get the most out of it for your career

ByMike V. Cooper

Nov 17, 2021
How do you make the change? How do you show that you have kept up to date with the changes and trends that have affected most industries during the pandemic?

Traditionally, the answer to these questions has been to go back to school. But the increase in tuition fees over the past few decades and the time spent on traditional curricula make this path prohibitive for many people.

This is where short online courses in business, technology and other fields come in. Over the past 10 years, these courses taught by providers such as Udemy, Coursera, and edX have become more popular, and around 75% of learners who take them report receiving professional benefits. to complete them.

Here are four key actions that studies have shown will help online learners make the most of a short online course to reap the professional benefits they desire.

1. Identify the objective

Learners who start a course with a clear idea of ​​what they want out of it are more likely to complete their course and earn a certificate. A goal can be, for example, to acquire a new skill, to deepen one’s knowledge on a subject, to improve one’s professional performance, to obtain a new job or to progress in a current job.

In my study of over 4,000 learners who took an online course in business topics, I found that learners who signed up for their course with the intention of improving their job performance, creating their own company or getting a new job were more likely to receive professional benefits. than those who signed up just because they wanted to learn something new on the subject.

2. Review the videos and retake the tests

Among the same sample of over 4,000 people taking online courses, I also found that learning behaviors associated with persistence – such as watching more videos or retaking tests – were found to be more strongly associated with benefits. career perceived as social behaviors like forum posts, comments and views – or even ratings.

In fact, the same study showed that grades have no correlation with whether or not a person receives career benefits as long as they eventually pass the course. The lesson here is to try and try again. Taking a course that is difficult can be more useful than a course that a learner can take quickly.

3. End the course

Many short courses now only last four or five weeks, with less than three hours of time required per week. Learners who complete their online courses are more likely to learn something new, improve their performance, get a raise or a new job, or start a new business. They can also receive a digital certificate or badge that they can post on social media to let potential employers know that they have passed the course.

4. Choose the brand wisely
Currently, I am working on a larger study to confirm that hiring managers believe that “certificates without a degree” like online course certificates improve a candidate’s resume, especially if the potential employee does not. no work experience in the field.

These same hiring managers value the reputation of the institution offering the course against the specific credentials that flow from it – a badge versus a certificate, for example. In my survey of hiring managers, the results of which have yet to be released, a majority responded that they preferred non-degree degrees from academically distinguished universities to credited certificates from for-profit institutions.

Fortunately, many highly recognizable and academically selective universities and companies are now offering these short courses for little or no cost. It’s easy to learn IBM’s Data Analytics, Darden Business Strategy, Stanford Machine Learning, and many other topics from top schools, such as Python, Computing, Robotics, health care economics and even the science of happiness from the University of Michigan, Harvard, Penn and Yale. If a learner recognizes the name of the institution offering the course, chances are good that hiring managers will too.

While the short-lived online courses haven’t lived up to the hype of 10 years ago that they would disrupt higher education, they are helping millions of learners around the world to try new things. fields and learn skills to advance their careers.


(This article is syndicated by AP from The Conversation)