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Making the Most of MOOCs

January 3, 2013 by


eLearning Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

The Arizona Republic newspaper recently ran a front page article by Anne Ryman about the explosive growth of MOOCs. MOOCs is an acronym for “Massive Open Online Courses.” These are free online classes that are available to anyone with an Internet connection. Courses are offered by more than a two dozen universities including Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. The article points out those universities are offering MOOCs as a way to expand awareness of what these schools have to offer to potential students.

Many of the available courses relate to business or technology and represent a great opportunity for entrepreneurs who wish to broaden or deepen their experience in, say, organizational management or computer science. With MOOCs, students will not get college credit or be able to earn a degree, but still, “this might be attractive as a way to check out the latest developments in their career fields” wrote Ms Ryman. Many of the courses are self-paced, while others have a specific beginning and ending date.

Private companies that may or may not be affiliated with a university act as consolidators “by offering online platforms where the courses are housed.” Coursera is a perfect example, offering access to hundreds of classes. Here are three examples:

  • Networks: Friends, Money and Bytes – Princeton University. “A course driven by 20 practical questions about wireless, web, and the Internet, about how products from companies like apple Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Ericcson, HP, Skype, and AT&T work.”
  • Social Network Analysis – University of Michigan. “This course will use social network analysis, both its theory and computational tools, to make sense of the social and information networks that have been fuelled and rendered accessible by the Internet.”
  • Organizational Analysis – Stanford University. “In this introductory course, you will learn multiple theories of organizational behaviour and apply them to actual cases of organizational change.”

We visited two other websites. One is EdX, a not-for-profit enterprise founded and owned by Harvard University and MIT. The site says that it “features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. EdX points out that in return for offering the courses for free, they will use the student experience to ‘research how students learn and how technology can transform learning.’”

Another MOOC site we reviewed is called Udacity which seems to offer a terrific number of business and technology classes similar to the ones highlighted above. The Udacity site says that it was “founded by three roboticists who believed much of the education value of their university classes could be offered online.” It goes on to say that over 160,000 students in over 190 countries enrolled in their first class, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.”

One more great example is Codecademy, a site dedicated to teaching web coding skills to beginners. The interactive tutorials walk you through the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Python, and Ruby. Most lessons only take a few minutes and are accompanied by a discussion forum so you can get help from fellow students if you get stuck.

We realize that most entrepreneurs will say that they don’t have enough hours in the day to run their businesses let alone take a course. That may be true, but we thought that we ought to at least expose you to this very cool, very free opportunity.

If one of your resolutions for 2013 was to learn something new, there are a lot of great opportunities for you to choose from!

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  • http://www.caycon.com/ Akira Hirai

    As a follow up, Udemy an online learning platform (that is not free like the MOOCs listed above), has a course called “How to Prototype Web and Mobile Apps in 30 Minutes.” If you enroll by midnight on Friday 1/4 using discount code HAPPY2013, you can get $100 off. Check it out here: http://www.udemy.com/ux-for-founders/

  • Xxx

    Maybe we should think about offering such classes in lieu of education grant dollars to so many foreign countries!