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Image Credit: <blog.commarts.wisc.edu

Image Credit: <blog.commarts.wisc.edu>

Let’s talk about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs for short). MOOCs are large-scale (often interactive), online courses that feature many of the traditional educational materials (ex. texts/homework/lectures) utilized in classroom settings. These materials are intended to be used in concert with online forum community interactions to augment learning in lieu of the 1 w/ 1 interaction one might get from working with a professor and/or teaching assistant in a traditional classroom setting.

1. In addition to generations of brand equity, elite brick and mortar universities offer networking opportunities, career services, and the opportunity to cultivate key social skills that an online experience can’t easily replace, among other things.I’m pretty bullish on MOOCs. For a number of reasons 1, I think they’re a long ways away from displacing brick and mortar universities as some suggest they will, but they’re playing a valuable role in giving people around the world unprecedented access to information.

As someone who (like many my age) grew up socializing in forum communities, I feel very much at home interacting with peers in the kinds of message board based environments utilized by MOOCs. To his point, I’ve audited several MOOCs already to supplement my knowledge as it concerns advanced logic and statistics, and I’ve also signed up for the Coursera hosted Wharton MBA Foundation Series to brush up on Financial Accounting and Corporate Finance.

…Yet as great a tool as MOOCs have been for facilitating learning for both myself and others, I wonder about the extent of these course’s value from a practical standpoint. It’s wonderful to gain knowledge (and perhaps even develop skills) that can be used to ultimately add value in one’s chosen area of subject matter expertise. Conversely, MOOCs don’t yet have brand equity that can be leveraged into real life opportunities.

Certifications like Coursera’s signature track could eventually make MOOC’s more substantive in the eyes of employers, but for now I don’t think they’re anything more than quasi AP courses: The knowledge is a valuable foundation for someone seeking a four year or post-graduate degree (one may be able to test out of certain classes), and I suppose an experienced professional could possibly even use certain course certifications to get a leg-up over peers in an internal job interview.

For now, however, those looking to use MOOC’s as a notch on their resume may have to wait a little longer for their value to become more clearly defined.

…Or maybe I have this wrong. Is your company placing value on these sorts of certifications when recruiting for talent? If so, what was the turning point that made this happen in your organization?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.



If you have questions about something you’ve read here (or simply want to connect) you can reach me at any of the following addresses: 

SomethingDifferentHR@gmail.com OR rorytrotter86@gmail.com