In the age of COVID-19, we are all faced with the question of how to fill our free time. Many of us are taking up new hobbies; other of us are working on getting fit. Other still, however, (myself included!) are taking online courses with the hope of learning a new skill, boosting their resume, or deepening their knowledge of a particular area. With a multitude of platforms, we are faced with the (difficult) decision of what courses to choose, from easily over several thousand. Here are my two cents on how to choose:
Decide how much time you really have. Generally, courses on online learning platforms will tell you how much work you are expected to complete per week. Set some time aside to ask yourself how much time you really have. That will, then, allow you to critically evaluate how much time you can dedicate to online courses. I only have about 3-4 hours to devote to this, so I'm only going to choose one class.
Ask yourself what you are looking to get out of online classes. Are you looking to develop a new skill? Do you want to learn something that will help you professionally? Or do you want to learn more about a topic of interest, which may have nothing to do with your skillset or your resume? If you only have time, say, for one class, pick the goal that is most pressing, and decide on a class. For the purposes of the rest of the steps, I am going to imagine that I need to work on my coding skills -- it will really boost my resume!
Choose your platform. The most well known platform is Coursera, which gives participants access to thousands of classes, some of which are taught by the top universities in the world. There are also EdX and FutureLearn. Bear in mind, however, that most of these classes are taught in English — with some exceptions. Many countries have their own online learning platforms: Ukraine, for example, has www.prometheus.org.ua. If you’re not comfortable learning in English, check out your “national” sites — and remember that many of them have courses for English learners! (Also remember that there are certain sites that have courses JUST on a particular subject, like www.bangbangeducation.ru, which only offers design courses. Be sure to search for subject-specific platforms as well!) Since I want to work on my coding and am a native English speaker, I’ll be taking my courses on Coursera.
Decide whether or not you want the professional certification. While most (though not all) platforms offer their courses for free, many will say that in order to receive a professional certificate (that you can then link to your LinkedIn), you will need to pay a small fee. Decide whether or not you want to put this on your resume and have real certification, or whether or not you just want to take this class for your personal benefit. Since I want my future employer to know that I’ve seriously approached my independent study of coding, I’ll pay the small fee for the certificate.
Learn! This is really an unprecedented opportunity for many of us to spend time learning the skills that we’ve never had a chance to discover before. Go forth and develop yourself!