From OpenCulture On my list of things to do that will enhance me professionally is to expand my education. You might think that after earning a PhD that I would be so done with learning, but in fact the opposite is true.
I actually enjoy learning, as much as I do teaching! And what I’ve stumbled across is the fact that the more I learn, whether focused or disparate topics, the better I become at my job…teaching.
The challenge I have is the same one the plagues most of us, lots of initiative but not a lot of unaccounted for time. Sure, I might want to learn how to think strategically, but I don’t have 16 or even 8 weeks to spend in a classroom from 10:00-11:15 Tue/Thu. So I was reduced to doing the next best thing – reading!
Fortunately, I discover Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from some well know and less known universities. Most offer “certificates”, “statements of completion” etc., though typically not university credit. A “$” indicates that although the course is free the credential costs money. The key below outlines some credentials offered by my course picks.
Free Courses Credential Key NI – No Information About Certificate Available SA = Statement of Accomplishment SP$ = Statement of Participation VC$ = Verified Certificate
After reviewing the list I compiled my personal top ten list of courses for my profession development. You need to check out the OpenCulture site and compile your own list. Even if you can’t enroll in all of them at once, putting together your list will help prioritize your time without any other investment. How cool is that?
My Top 10 (in Alphabetical Order)
Circadian clocks: how rhythms structure life (SA) – Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München on Coursera – January 15 (6 weeks). Have you ever wondered why some people sleep later or earlier than others or why your sleep times are seasonal? Did you know that even fungi make spores earlier or later than their relatives each day? Daily rhythms – from gene expression to behavior – are everywhere in nature and they form a web of rhythmic interactions – from bees to blossoms to moles to hawks. That we are earlier or later than our neighbors or even than family members is due to a combination of our genes, our age and our environment.
Foundations of Virtual Instruction (VC$) – University of California, Irvine on Coursera – January 12 (5 weeks). This course provides teachers with the foundation for understanding the movement towards virtual instruction. It introduces fundamental knowledge needed by teachers to succeed in a technology-dependent, instructional environment.
How to Succeed at: Interviews (SP$) – The University of Sheffield on FutureLearn – November 3 (3 weeks). This course will help you to succeed at interviews, whether you are applying for jobs or planning to study. Because being offered an interview can be quite daunting, we’ve put together a set of materials to help you prepare and be successful on the day.
Introduction to Strategic Thinking (NI) – Canvas Network on Canvas.net – November 4 (3 weeks). This is a short interdisciplinary course on strategic thinking and some of its most powerful tools. Strategic thinking is not exclusive to business or military applications. The skills taught in this course can be used by everyone.
Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects (VC$) – University of California, San Diego on Coursera – January 2 (4 weeks). This course gives you easy access to the invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines. We’ll learn about the how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information.
Managing People: Engaging your Workforce (SP$) – University of Reading on FutureLearn – January 12 (10 weeks). Aimed at people who have, or are about to have, managerial responsibility in any type of organization, this course will introduce you to reflective practice in people management.
Public Speaking – Join the Talk & Spread the Word (SP/VC$) – Homuork on iversity – January 13. Join the Talk & Spread the Word’ is a course developed by Homuork, in collaboration with professors from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona and Public Speaking experts, that aims to explain techniques and provide resources that will aid you in preparing your presentations and delivering ideas convincingly.
Success – Unleash yourself (SA) – University of Agder on NovoED – January 11 (9 weeks). Have you ever wondered why some people seem to attract success while others work very hard, but do not achieve what they want? Are you interested in changing your own life and being more successful? Do you want to achieve more results out of your hard work? If so, then this course is for you!
Teaching Library Research Strategies (NI) – Canvas.net – January 26 (5 weeks). The migration of print resources to electronic formats has changed the way instructional librarians teach students how to use the library effectively. The library itself has changed to include learning spaces and zones with less dedicated space for print resources. In this course, an experienced academic librarian will share his strategies for getting students engaged in the art of library research.
Thinking Outside The Box: Creative Entrepreneurship (NI) – Universidad Panamericana on Canvas.net – January 12 (7 weeks). This course can empower you to develop your creative potential to improve, enhance and transform your professional career and your community through entrepreneurship. This course is for transforming your idea into a real entrepreneurial project. You will acquire strategies to develop your entrepreneurial skills, your creative potential and your “outside the box” thinking, understanding how you can generate innovative ideas to disruptive entrepreneurial projects.
I’ve verified that the courses I’m interested in will begin in January, and that they are FREE. I’ve also looked at the basic criteria for each and will decide which ones I will pursue and when. Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, didn’t know about MOOCs!
To avoid being overwhelmed by the hundreds or thousands of course options, first spend a few minutes thinking about what you would like to know more about…and why. It’s essential that you have a reason for learning or you will not complete the course! Trust me – I thought Machine Learning Techniques sounded interesting, but when I read “The basic knowledge on Calculus (differentiation), Linear Algebra (vector and matrix operations) and Probability (independent and dependent events) will be helpful.” I realized it was a bit outside my interest (or abilities).
Another way to bolster your opportunity for success is to have an accountability partner, someone who will ask you, “So how is your course going?” Whatever it is that propels you to sign up for a course, make sure that you keep it in the forefront of your mind while you take it – and remember to have fun!
Feel free to share your thoughts regarding ways to enhance your professional development in the comments, and as always, if you have questions, you can reach me via eMail.
Cheers! EM Matthews