How to Select the right Online Course?
For both students and professionals, the lockdown offers an opportunity to upskill through online courses. However, a lot of us are overwhelmed with posts on social media and emails to sign-up for online certifications and courses on a plethora of topics. It often leads us to sign up in auto-pilot mode, usually due to the fear of missing out. We start with the course, but leave it midway, wasting effort and money, in some cases. A recent study from Columbia University's Teachers College on EdX and Coursera courses indicated that their MOOC certificate programs had completion rates of 15 percent or less. A common reason observed for this trend is that participants are not evaluating whether the course they are signing up for is in line with their goal. Starting a course that doesn't suit you can digress you from learning and shake your confidence. At this point, I would like to quote from Greg McKeown's book, 'Essentialism: The disciplined Pursuit of Less.' According to Greg, "Essentialism is about challenging the core assumption of 'we can have it all' and 'I have to do everything' and replacing it with the pursuit of 'the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.'"
Inspired from the principles of Essentialism, you can apply the following steps to find the course that's a good fit for you:
1. Decide your objective
The first step is deciding what you want or need from a course. Do you want a course to develop your skills at work? Or a course endorsed by a professional body to gain credibility or a course just to pass your free time? For example, you could be a business analyst wanting to switch into project management roles. Or a project manager wanting to learn the latest Agile methodology. Once you establish an objective for learning a course, you need to spend some time exploring courses. You could choose to browse through different category pages on various online learning platforms. If you are aware of the topic/area you are interested in, you might want to search directly.
2. Explore and Evaluate your options
The next step is to go through as many courses as possible. Take time to read all course descriptions in detail, making sure you understand what the course is about, what's the syllabus, and what you will learn by the end of the course. Check if there are any pre-requisites for the course, so you can ensure it's the right level for you. The idea is to end up with a course that matches your experience. Check for course ratings and reviews. Get candid feedback from your friends/peers who have done the same course. Preview the course if there is an option. You don't want to end up with a course that does not match your expectations or where you have trouble understanding the instructor's accent. Check for credible university affiliations, interactive content, duration, cost, and flexibility of time so that you have a good learning experience.
3. Eliminate and Narrow down your options
Narrow down your choices. After you are familiar with what the courses cover, check them against the objective you set up in step 1. Try to shortlist the course that best matches your needs and goal. Avoid taking a course because your peers have taken it, or you have a fear of missing out. Doing so helps you keep focused and gain the maximum from online classes. If you are tempted towards a course just to explore or pass your time, do not prioritize it over a course that is more in line with your objective or career goal. If required, bookmark this course and get back to it once you finish with the courses that are more relevant for you.
4. Start Learning
Once you have explored, read the small print and matched against your criteria, it's time to start learning! If you follow the above strategy for selecting courses, there are chances that you will stick to your plan because all your efforts align with a well-defined objective. Beware of procrastination at this stage. Most MOOC's and certifications come with a schedule that you can customize as per your needs.
Akansha is an MBA graduate from IIM Nagpur and Ex PwC Consultant. She has a flair for writing and a keen interest in the application of philosophy in management.