Are free online courses right for you? If so, you will be pleased to know that in a matter of moments you can access over 11,000 free online courses. Changes in the world make it necessary to learn new things throughout life. With online courses, you can learn new skills more suited to your pace and learning style.
The offer of online courses is so wide that you can learn almost anything remotely. New skills will come in handy when you think about advancing or changing the industry. The course offer includes many that will confirm your newly acquired skills with a certificate.
However, the question arises, how do employers perceive certificates of free online courses?
MOUNT OF FREE ONLINE COURSES
Free online courses or MOOC from Massive Open Online Course are training courses developed by the largest universities in the USA.
MOOCs first appeared in 2006, and 6 years later became commonplace on the Coursera, edX and Udacity open-to-all training platforms. The pioneers of these courses were professors from Stanford, MIT and Harvard. Suddenly, people anywhere in the world had access to training created by real experts.
Most of these courses are completely free of charge. Only some courses are paid – for a small amount (compared to full-time studies) you can get a master’s degree.
Over the years, these open-source online course platforms have become very popular. Currently, the edX platform offers over 2,000 courses and 14 million users. Coursera has over 2,000 courses with over 180 specializations, and even several Master’s degrees and over 25 million users. These open online learning platforms have become synonymous with independent learning resources for many.
However, due to its relatively short lifetime, it is only natural to ask a few important points about free online courses. Are the free online courses worth your attention and will their certificates be of value to employers?
DO THE ONLINE COURSES COUNT FOR EMPLOYERS
A survey of nearly 1,000 students online at Harvard Business School shed important light on these questions. In a survey by City Square Associates, 50% of people reported that they had attracted more recruiters’ attention after completing Harvard Business School Online.
Every fourth person has received a promotion or a change of position title. Interestingly, almost a third of these people were able to change the industry. An online course certificate from a reputable educational institution can have the same or even better effect on your CV than a full-time diploma.
Learning in this form is nothing new for large employers. In corporations, every new employee undergoes a series of introductory online training.
Additional education is always appreciated by employers. You usually combine distance learning with full-time work or other roles. For an employer, this is a good example of using organizational skills or time management. It is also proof that you are good at modern technology.
Remember that you do not enter information about the form of education in your CV, you only provide the subject and name of the training institution. Information that the course or studies took place via the Internet is also not on the certificate. If the certificate was issued by a well-known university, the employer may not even pay attention to it.
Completing an online course can strengthen your CV, but remember that an employer does not make hiring decisions solely on the basis of your education. Everything counts: experience, skills, attitude and personality.
BENEFITS OF ONLINE COURSES
The list of advantages of free online courses is long. Most of all, you can learn for free, so you save money. In addition, you can do it without leaving your home – so you also save time on commuting.
If you know English or other languages, you can use the offer of universities all over the world. You can study at any time of the day – whenever you have time to study. Thanks to this, you can easily combine work with study.
Free online courses are great when you think about changing the industry. You can try out new specializations without any risk. By exploring the topic more deeply during the course, you check if it is interesting for you.
After completing a specialist course, you can enrich your CV with information about acquiring new skills and confirm your qualifications with a certificate from a reputable university. By studying online, you can get a bachelor’s or master’s degree, not to mention postgraduate studies.
You don’t need to focus only on work-related courses though. You can finally learn something you’ve always wanted. It could be something related to your hobby. And if you like it, you can turn your hobby into a specialization and confirm your qualifications with a certificate.
MINUS ONLINE COURSES
Free online courses are not for everyone, however. Editing an online course requires additional screen time, which can be a nuisance for those who appreciate movement or have vision problems.
Learning requires a lot of self-discipline and good organization, because you don’t have to show up in the classroom at a specific time. There is no interaction with the teacher, no direct contact and no possibility of inquiry in case of misunderstanding the material.
You also have fewer opportunities to meet other people who are learning at the same time. If there is no group created on FB or no discussion forum, you cannot exchange your experiences with others.
There are currently more than 11,000 online courses to choose from, which may paralyze your decision as to which course to choose.
Despite the wide offer of online courses, not always this form of education will be ideal in a given specialization. For example, if you are conducting research or experiments, you must have access to physical materials or a laboratory.
FREE CERTIFIED ONLINE COURSES
Where to find free online certified courses? You have a variety of training platforms to choose from. Below you will find some of them. Most of the courses are in English. However, almost all of them have transcripts and PDF material that are easy to download and translate. However, if you don’t know English at all, check out Udemy – you’ll find many free online Polish courses there.
The training platform, founded in 2012 by Stanford professors, is the most popular MOOC source in the world. The approximately ten-week courses are designed by top university professors and their teams. They have assignments, quizzes, and even final drafts or exams instead of traditional classes. You can complete the courses on this platform at your own pace.
You can finish the course with a certificate that can be shared directly on, for example, LinkedIn.
There is an additional cost to be certified, but due to the pandemic, Coursera is offering a free certificate for some of its online courses. The full list of courses with a limited offer of a free certificate can be found below:
HubSpot Academy is a leader in free online training for marketing, sales and customer service specialists. He specializes in comprehensive certification programs and individual thematic courses for professionals who want to develop their careers and business.
The edX platform was founded in 2012 by MIT & University Harvard. edX offers free university-level courses. Online classes are interactive. Each course has teaching assistants, students can discuss the course in forums, ask questions, and interact with others. Similar to the Coursera Platform, you can obtain a Certificate of Completion for a small fee.
Subject: Programming, foreign languages, business and management, engineering
Class Central is a collection of courses from: edX, Coursera, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Google. The platform also offers free online courses from the universities of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.
Course topics: Business, Social Sciences, IT, Health and Medicine, Art and Design,
One of the largest platforms where you can find free online courses. There is also a huge selection of paid courses on the platform that you can buy for little money. Udemy has promotions for its online courses several times a month – prices start from PLN 35.
Unlike platforms such as Coursera or edX, Udemy courses are not created in collaboration with major universities in the world. Anyone who has valuable knowledge and meets the platform’s requirements can become an instructor on Udemy. Each course is graded by participants, so you can quickly filter the best on a given topic.
The most popular categories of online courses are: business, IT and software, design, marketing, photography and music.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST FREE ONLINE COURSES
The amount of free online courses available can be overwhelming. So how do you choose the best course for you? What should you pay attention to?
The first thing is the reputation of the school that runs the course. The more prestigious the university, the greater the probability that the course will translate into specific benefits for you: promotion, higher salary or a change of job for a better one.
When browsing the course content, pay attention to the proportion of theory and practice. The more exercises, the greater the chance that you will actually learn new skills. Therefore, access to the instructor who conducts the training is also important. Check also the possibility of interaction with others: support the group on FB, forum, comments of other participants on the course platform.
Check the opinions of other participants and their results. If it is possible to complete a certified course, check how to obtain it. Most often you need to take a test or written exam with open questions. Less often, you need to write a case study thesis.
Only you can decide if online classes are right for you, based on your personal and professional goals and your preferred learning style. Online courses offer great flexibility and convenience. They are great if you want to balance developing new skills with your current life stage and professional responsibilities.