For the right person, MOOCs could advance your career, provide credentials, or allow you to pursue a hobby or craft you might never have thought possible.
MOOCs do require a few specific traits or conditions to be successful
- Internet connection: Obviously, having an adequate Internet connection is crucial to succeeding in MOOCs. You’ll be streaming videos of lectures and downloading course packs, so make sure your connection is stable and strong. If you don’t have a personal internet connection, visit your local library and explain that you are undertaking MOOC course work. If there is a time limit restriction on Internet use, they might wave it for you (this happened for me at a library in Queens, New York when I was dealing with an Internet outage for a few weeks).
- Self-motivation: It’s very easy to get excited about the MOOC course offerings. You might scroll through and decide you want to learn Portuguese and HTML and how to operate a loom, but registering for a course does not mean you will complete it. After all, you could go to any library and find relevant information with a little digging. The lack of accountability that studying online offers makes it easy to give up, so a bit of self-motivation is necessary. It’s probably best to sign up for a single course, complete all of the work, and then reevaluate to see if you’d like to pursue another area of study. Signing up for too many courses (like taking too many hours as an incoming college freshman) is a surefire way to feel overwhelmed.
- Remember it’s a real class: MOOCs have an introductory period where you will become acquainted with your professors and peers. Take this time to make connections when you can. Participation is also very beneficial for you. Perhaps you’re taking courses online because you don’t like face-to-face learning. That’s fine, but know that asking questions is one of the most crucial aspects of assimilating information. Besides, you might also find it easier to ask questions while shrouded in the protective anonymity of the Internet.
- Place to study: Just because you’re taking courses from the comfort of your own home doesn’t mean you don’t need a proper place to study. Having a desk or spot on the couch where you religiously participate in your courses will make you more likely to succeed. And remember that while a little multi-tasking is okay, you want to be paying attention to the course work instead of chasing after your kids or scrubbing floors. Try to treat the time you devote to your courses seriously and you’ll have greater results.
- Is this the right MOOC for me?: Make sure that the courses you’ve chosen are appropriate for your skill level. Pay attention to prerequisites so you won’t start off behind (or enroll in a course that is too basic and therefore boring).
- Consider time: MOOCs make it easier and more convenient to learn, but learning takes time. This isn’t The Matrix where you can simply plug in and download information into your brain without trying. You’ll have to watch lectures, do readings offline, and stay on top of your work.
MOOCs require users to be more proactive, but following the above tips can make the experience more rewarding for you. There is no reason at all to feel like learning a new skill is out of your reach. Mobile learning opportunities are increasing literally every day and there is something exciting for everyone.