Lifelong learning is no longer a personal value; it’s a necessity. I believe that you should learn first for yourself, and secondly for your career. Nothing negative ever came from expanding your knowledge, and given the exponential pace technology is moving and an increasingly crowded employment market, gathering and layering skills are crucial in forming, developing and advancing your career. Whether you’re a little rusty after a break from the workforce, the victim of corporate downsizing, a career changer (or even angling your employer for a promotion or pay rise), then you’ll need some clout to prove you’re a value-add to your next employer.
But what to do if your finances can’t accommodate it?
Costs associated with training are often untenable when unemployed or living on a budget–it’s a no-win catch-22: you need money to study to get you the job, but you also need the job to help pay for that study that will allow you to earn said money. Learning is made harder if you are a carer, if you cannot drive, or live regionally, rurally or remotely. It’s a doozey. So how do we get around this?
If you have determination, an internet connection and the capacity to save $100, I may have a solution for you.
Let me introduce you to Massive Open Online Courses (otherwise known as MOOCs).
Here’s why they are an excellent option for job seekers, and especially those needing to train, upskill or gain some professional development on a budget:
1. They’re free. The biggest drawcard of the MOOCs is that they are free (yet still high quality). Did I mention they are free? Unlike traditional online units and degrees, you do not have to pay for course fees or textbooks to take the course; however many providers do charge a small fee if you want to upgrade and have your achievements officially recognised with a certificate of completion. Most typically range between A$60-$100.
2. No entry requirements. Didn’t sit your ATAR? Never studied before? Didn’t finish high school? With MOOCs, there are no barriers to entry–you do not need to achieve a tertiary entrance score or even sit an interview to participate; just a desire to learn and interest in the subject matter.
3. Thousands of course options. MOOC providers primarily focus on teaching in-demand skills, and as such, offer thousands of courses on nearly any topic you could think of. There are likely to be courses to fit your specific needs and interests.
4. Taste-test a role or industry before you take the plunge. If you are still trying to work out what you want to pursue a career in, MOOCs allow you to try before you buy. MOOCs are a great way of gaining insight into what a specific industry or profession is like before you embark on a career or invest in further study.
5. Learn from the best. MOOCs are taught by some of the foremost experts in their fields from some of the most prominent tertiary institutions in Australia and from around the world without ever having to sit in a lecture hall.
6. 100% online, offering you the flexibility to study at your pace, around your current family, life or work commitments, and from anywhere with internet connection.
Compelling stuff, right? So where can you find these FREE courses? Here is a round-up of some of the best learning platforms currently available (at the time of writing):
open2study.comOpen2Study is brought to you by the same people who operate Open Universities. Open2Study offers a diverse range of free short courses from teaching to midwifery, business management to finance, photography to physics and dozens of topics in between from some of Australia’s leading institutions including RMIT, Swinburne University and the University of Sydney—even North Metropolitan TAFE.
If you pass, you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement, proving to an employer the value-adding up-to-date knowledge that you possess and can bring to your workplace.
Founded in collaboration between Harvard University and MIT, edX offers high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners world over. edX boasts courses from Harvard, MIT, CalTech, Princeton and Juilliard, and Australian names including Curtin University, University of Notre Dame, University of Adelaide, the University of Queensland (to name a few).
Courses are free, and certificates are available upon completion (this is optional) which vary in price but cost an average fee of US$99 (~A$135).
Future Learn was founded by The Open University, England, and hosts courses from providers including Deakin University, the University of Queensland, but also from industry leaders including Accenture.
Courses are free, with the option to upgrade for A$99 which unlocks premium extras including unlimited course access, resources, tests to validate your learning, and a Certificate of Achievement to prove your success.
Udacity’s course offerings have a heavy focus on technology. From app development to virtual reality, Java programming and HTML/CSS, this platform has nearly 200 courses on technology from beginner through to advanced level.
Udacity began as an experiment in online learning by Stanford University lecturers Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig who offered their “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course online to anyone, for free. Over 160,000 students in 190 countries enrolled.
Note: When searching courses, be sure to set filter to ‘FREE’.
Google (Digital Garage)
The Digital Garage by Google Australia offers a range of digital marketing classes, and if you complete each of the 26 topics to unlock every badge, you can earn the esteemed Digital Garage Certificate of Online Proficiency. Topics include SEO, ads, analytics, social media and more.
Udemy also offers a range of popular premium courses on topics ranging web development and Photoshop, to art and finance (and hundreds of options across dozens of subjects in between) for a very affordable A$13.99.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
This platform is not free (A$39.99/month), however, you can claim a free one-month trial, and the platform allows you to add courses completed directly to your LinkedIn profile.
MOOCs have democratised learning—it no longer matters where you’re located or what your academic or financial background is—anyone with an internet connection and a thirst for knowledge can learn from the world’s best institutions for free.
So, what are you waiting for?! Expand your knowledge, expand your career, expand your opportunities.
And just in case you were wondering, I don’t receive kickbacks of any sort for sharing these learning providers with you!
Have any questions about training, careers or resumes? I love to chat!