At Certain times in our life we all feel like we’re going nowhere, I had one of those moments last autumn, I felt the urge to get productive and start plugging the gaps in my knowledge and skills. So I Googled ‘free online courses’, discovered a site called Future Learn and enrolled in a Open University ‘MOOC’ course on fiction writing.
I wanted to learn again but committing to a lengthy qualification felt like a struggle. I’m prone to burn out and procrastinate so the self paced style of online MOOCs is perfect for me.
I chose the Fiction Writing course in the midst of my first attempt at writing a short story. Inspired by Michael Rosen’s book ‘Good Ideas’ I had my eureka moment in the bathtub. I always wanted to write a story and the ideas for my ‘Tears Of Damascus’ story fell into place one day. The writing fiction course gave me lots of really good advice and pointers on what makes good fiction plus useful tests and challenges to put them into practice. What it also did was to put me on the path of regular online studies. I’ve turned into a MOOC addict!!
MOOCs (short for massive open online courses) are great if you’re short of means or you easily burn out like me. They usually last no more than 6-8 weeks and are often self paced meaning the time limit is advisory but you can finish even after it’s up. You don’t need to finish every part of the course either but it’s better to. I’ve stuck with Future Learn, my favourite of all the MOOC sites and I also use sites like Alison, Coursera and EDX.
I’ve had the chance to study subjects ranging from anthropological social media research to Human Rights, Wealth Inequality, Journalism, Academic Reading and most importantly for me, Writing.
I feel like I am on a clear path now, I’ve discovered what I want to do, I want to write and I keep studying to better my writing. The beauty of learning this way is it doesn’t hurt my wallet and it isn’t too overwhelming. Sure, there’s a long way to go, I haven’t even finished that first short story yet but I found the inner courage to make a start and positive feedback from fellow learners spurs me on to do more.
If you’re feeling stuck, if you don’t have the money or the willpower but you want to get productive, try one of these sites. Search for a subject you’re interested in, I guarantee you will find it. Have a go, I especially recommend Future Learn closely followed by Coursera and EDX. All these sites have MOOCs provided by reputable international Universities.
As long as you’re prepared to have a go and to come back to your learning you will gain from MOOC style learning. I feel a lot better than I did last year, had it not been for MOOCs, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. You can study for free or a nominal fee from the comfort of your home, it will boost your career prospects and help you find what you love doing.
I can only speak for myself but I’m addicted to MOOCs!!! This week alone I’m studying three separate courses. I’m taking on my arch nemesis mathematics and yes, I still struggle but I’m not giving up!!!
These online courses are truly priceless. The knowledge gained can change your life. Education is a way out of darkness, a way out of depression, freedom from the shackles of ignorance. We live in difficult times, times of economic hardship, in such times online education offers a ray of hope by empowering us all.
Whereas before, the best education was reserved for the wealthy elite, now wherever you have a broadband connection you have the opportunity to enrich yourself and expand your horizons, just give it a try, see what MOOCs can do for you. Enjoy your learning.