One of the macro trends in today’s world is that people are living longer. This has a number of implications in a variety of areas, including our careers. When we lived into our 70’s or 80’s we ended up working for 30 or so years. If however, as the trends indicate, we soon end up living well over 100 years this means that we will be working for 60 years.
In a 30 year work life the knowledge we gained through education at school and university remained largely relevant until the latter stages of our careers. When we’re working for in excess of 50 years, however, this becomes less feasible. Knowledge gained through studies in our 20’s will be irrelevant in the workplace we inhabit 60 years later.
Learning, and the custodians of lifelong learning, will consequently change. Historically, schools and universities were the custodians of knowledge and learning. As we move forward how this remains true will begin to evolve. Organisations may become the primary channel for lifelong learning, and the way in which learning is delivered and the ultimate responsibility for learning will shift away from schools and universities.
Massively Open Online Courses or MOOCs are tools that will begin to support and facilitate this new learning dynamic. These are courses are offered by, or in partnership, with top universities around the world and accessed online. The most significant feature of MOOCs is that they are offered free or at a fraction of the cost of on-campus learning.
MIT, Harvard And Stanford universities are amongst the Ivy League and other top international institutions who are making courses available online. It is now possible to attend a lecture, series of lectures, or course, offered by the top academics in any field, almost for free.
Historically, training or learning interventions offered by organisations have been expensive and offered according to a regimented schedule. It has been very difficult for organisations to cater to the just-in-time Learning and Development needs of individuals. MOOCs now offer a way to overcome both of these hurdles, in a way that facilitates real and relevant learning over a career spanning multiple decades.
Most of the institutions will, for a small additional payment, provide certification. At the same time, however, it is not necessary to complete a full course. Individuals can sign up for a course and only access the content they need / want for their current learning requirements, auditing out the rest – as long they are not looking for certification.
It is now not only possible but increasingly probable and desirable for individuals to use MOOCs to develop their own careers. Organisations can now use MOOCs to deliver “best of breed” training content. Effective selection and appropriate use of MOOCs now makes it possible for anybody to be Ivy League educated.
The best and / or most accessible MOOCs are (with edited descriptions from their own sites):
MIT Open Courseware
“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.” Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering
OCW provides free MIT educational content you can use to enhance or refresh your knowledge or teach others. It’s best to think of OCW as a free online library of course materials used to teach MIT undergraduate and graduate courses.After a course is taught at MIT, we take selected course materials (such as the course syllabus and a description of the activities completed during the course) and publish them on the OCW website.
There are more than 2,200 courses on OCW.
In a pilot project students will be able to take a semester of free online courses in one of MIT’s graduate programs and then, if they pay a “modest fee” of about $1,500 and pass an exam, they will earn a MicroMaster’s credential.
The new credential represents half of the university’s one-year master’s degree program in supply chain management. As part of the pilot project, students who perform well in the online half can take an exam to apply for the second semester on campus. Those who get in would pay $33,000, about half the cost of the yearlong program.
Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take.
Choose from hundreds of courses created by the world’s top educational institutions. Courses are open to anyone, and financial aid is available.
Learn on your own schedule
Watch short video lectures, take interactive quizzes, complete peer graded assessments, and connect with fellow learners and instructors.
Finish your course and receive formal recognition for your accomplishment with an optional Course Certificate.
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.
With more than 85 global partners, they are proud to count the world’s leading universities, nonprofits, and institutions as their members.
EdX university members top the QS World University Rankings® with their founders receiving the top honors, and edX partner institutions ranking highly on the full list.
Browse the world’s largest catalog of free education content:
Choose from more than 1 million free lectures, videos, books, and other resources on thousands of subjects from Algebra to Zoology from educational and cultural institutions around the world
Share your favorite courses with friends using Twitter, Facebook, Mail, and Messages
iTunes U includes materials from Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, McGill University, La Trobe University, University of Tokyo, Museo Nacional del Prado, Smithsonian Libraries, National Theatre, Library of Congress, and many more
Open Learn: by The Open University
OpenLearn gives you free access to learning materials from The Open University.
It has content which stretches back to 1999, providing free online learning to support broadcast collaborations with the BBC.
They launched the LearningSpace back in October 2006. The shared vision was free online education, open to anyone, anywhere in the world. OpenLearn is the result and they have since reached over 23 million people.
In the first two years, the LearningSpace grew to include over 8000 study hours of learning materials from Open University courses. The website continues to grow with new course materials being published regularly in the OpenLearn free course section.
Combined, OpenLearn gives access to topical and interactive content, from expert blogs, to videos and games. This ‘open media’ often links to their BBC television and radio programmes. You can also find Open University channels on iTunesU and you can follow them on Twitter @OpenUniversity