Less than a decade ago, your best option for earning a higher degree was to go to a traditional college. The concept of online courses was a small niche or a supplement to in-class courses at a big university.
But then, out of the mist of the world wide web came Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are designed to bring knowledge to the masses. The idea was revolutionary when the first classes launched in 2006. Web innovator Dave Cormier wanted to see if students could learn without attending a classroom.
If students weren’t held back by geographic and financial roadblocks, could more information-sharing impact more people?
Today, the answer is undeniably “yes.” The landscape of education has changed since that first class, and multiple universities have come onboard in offering online courses—often, for free. The pandemic has exponentially expanded the need to adapt to online, too. There is no turning back now, and that’s good news for you!
Termed “MOOCs” and “Open Course Ware” (OCW), you can learn register to learn any subject from the comfort of your home.
Your Reasons to Continue Learning
There are plenty of reasons to look at MOOCs to sign up for now, including to:
- Stay Current: Whether you’ve recently earned your degree or certification or not, the reality is that a career in medicine means constant change. If you want to stay on top of your skills, renew your information regularly.
- Further Your Career: Not only will you need to earn credits to keep your certifications current, you’ll be strategic with your future career growth in mind.
- Bust Boredom: As varied as the situations and your clients might be, there is a reality that you might find yourself bored in the day-to-day of work. By engaging your brain with new information about your field or even related areas, you maintain a sense of wonder about what you do.
- Keep Your Mind Sharp: You don’t have to make every course you take count towards credit or gain “certification value” when continuing your education. Learning for learning’s sake is good for your health, and equally beneficial to your career in almost every way. Online courses, especially those that are free, permit you to keep your brain active with new information.
- Adapt: While your experience means you know how and what to do in high-stress and fast-paced situations, the act of learning helps you adapt even more fluidly to situations and ideas. Remaining a life-long learner allows you to pivot and shift more easily with any change.
Your Access to Courses
The courses offered by universities and colleges are funneled through online learning platforms which provide the interface to shop and sign up for classes. The options are almost overwhelming, so doing your research, starting with the biggest providers.
Where to Find MOOCs
EdX was launched as a joint effort by Harvard and MIT and contains courses from dozens of universities around the globe. There is an emphasis on free courses, but students have access to pay a fee to earn certificates and credits.
EdX also features a “micromasters” program with graduate-level coursework at a fee a fraction of what you would pay for in-person programs.
Udemy has both free and fee-based courses from universities, and online instructors are also available on this website on an individual basis. If you decide to pay for a course, you gain access to it indefinitely.
Coursera offers free, fee-based and subscription courses to choose from. Again, the options are almost overwhelming. A search of “healthcare” brings up a list of 1066 options. All classes are clearly ranked by students, though, which helps you discern if the course will work for you. They are also categorized for beginners on up.
LinkedIn (formerly Lynda.com) offers an annual subscription membership. Courses completed on this platform allow you to tout your accomplishment via LinkedIn and other platforms.
Study.com features courses available for free and then breaks out other offerings for fee-based bachelors and masters programs. Free courses for healthcare include Medical Terminology, Health Issues for Aging Populations, and Improving Critical Thinking and Clinical Reasoning.
Classcentral.com funnels all the providers for MOOCs into one place. You can take a class from the University of Glasgow, Stanford University or Johns Hopkins, for example. Class Central provides this database in exchange for commissions.
Things to Keep in Mind as an Online Student
You might hear that there was once a disadvantage from online learning like the lack of being considered “serious,” but today’s educators continue to evolve to meet today’s challenges and needs.
Even the concerns of student engagement have been washed away with the rise of tools for student-teacher and peer-to-peer interaction. Technology permits students to work in breakout sessions on Zoom, for example. Whiteboarding strategy, too, allows for incredible interaction with other students. In fact, one sure path to success is to be sure you maximize the connection between students during courses.
Another advantage of moving the classroom to your computer is that you are no longer restricted by time or borders as to when, where, or with whom you learn. You also have options for testing out different formats, instructors and subjects to find what makes the most sense for you.
Do your homework to discover what courses or platforms to start with. If your goal is to obtain certifications and degrees, just imagine how portable your accomplishments will be from your online degree to the places you can use your education in the future.
As a health care professional, you’ve signed up to do important work. Caring for yourself as a lifelong learner will assure you career success and a greater sense of personal and professional fulfillment.
You are on a journey of improvement where free courses and the internet allow you more control to determine your path to success.