What’s a Mooc? A free option to hone in-demand abilities for the office

The acronym sounds like your aunt's old dachshund name, but MOOC stands for massive online open courses. These open educational resources have a huge impact on continuous learning.

You can enroll in a computer science course at IBM Cybersecurity or a philosophy course from the University of Pennsylvania. You can sign up for free online courses on video games or climate science. Yes, it's free. Really.

The right Massive Open Online Course can give your career a competitive edge. But where do you start? There are thousands of university courses, even college-level courses, taught through online platforms. While the topic of a history course may interest you, a social networking course may be better for professional development. But not all of the more interesting MOOCs are technical.

"[Hard skills] will always change if they're too technical, ”said Ben Brooks, CEO of Pilot, a New York-based career advancement company. That is why he advocates soft skills.

In a 2019 CareerBuilder survey, 80% of employers said that soft skills are at least as important or more important than hard skills when hiring.

We have compiled a list of some soft skills courses available through online learning. They are important to master, in high demand, and applicable to any industry, says Brooks.

Select your Massive Open online course from this top 5 list

Before we start, here's an introduction to the MOOCs we've selected:

Each course is carried out entirely in an online learning platform.
Not all courses are completely autonomous or self-determined. Many require student engagement in discussion forums.
After enrolling in your online course, you will be placed in a group with other students and given a teaching assistant for additional guidance.
With the exception of Duolingo, which is less of a course than a collection of playful study materials, the free online courses have suggested start dates and curricula to keep you updated.
Online course materials are usually divided into weekly sections. Take notes because there is a quiz at the end of each section.
Don't sweat if you need extra time. There is no penalty for working at your own pace.

While the online course is free, certification costs range from free to $ 200. But don't worry if you don't have the money. Many MOOC providers offer financial aid. Most certificates will be free after the grant; some are discounted up to 90%.

In the following we have paired each of these soft skills with an associated MOOC. All free online courses offer certificates upon completion. Some are traditional university courses that also give you academic credits.

1. Emotional intelligence

"Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work" from the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, is about trust, cooperation, empathy and conflict resolution skills.

Together, these skills form your Emotional Intelligence or "EQ".

But it's not just about being a better employee. Learning your EQ through this free online course can also help you learn more about yourself by improving your self-esteem and stress management.

Course: Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work

Provider: edX

Estimated completion time: 8 hours

Bragging rights: course certificate

2. Multicultural competence

People of color make up over a third of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But just being in a diverse environment doesn't mean you have the right skills to find your way around. It takes a lot of confidence and effort.

Diversity and multiculturalism experts lead Cross-Cultural Competency, a course at the University of West Florida Innovation Institute. This course addresses problems that arise due to cultural differences in the workplace and gives learners the tools to solve these problems through shared cultural understanding.

Course: Intercultural Competence

Provider: University of West Florida

Estimated completion time: 10 to 15 hours

Bragging rights: course badges

3. Storytelling and communication

Storytelling is in our DNA, but not everyone is good at it.

Think of it this way: even if you are the most qualified applicant, it will hold you back professionally not being able to articulate your skills and accomplishments.

“A recruiter, or rather a machine, will determine if you are roughly qualified. That'll get you an interview but not a job, ”said Brooks. "It's all about the stories and narratives that you have."

We are constantly telling stories in emails, meetings and presentations. With “storytelling in the workplace” you can sell yourself better to employers and also spice up your daily workplace communication.

Andrea Hickerson, Associate Professor in the School of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology, will teach you how to sharpen your voice to connect with different audiences.

Course: storytelling in the workplace

Provider: edX

Estimated completion time: 12 to 18 hours

Bragging rights: course certificate

4. Personal branding and social media literacy

Figuring out how to use social media is one thing, but leveraging these platforms to create an online personality that will get you a job is another.

"It's important to have a personal brand," said Colner. "That applies to everyone who works in business today."

Through Coursera, the University of Virginia offers Introduction to Personal Branding, a course to help you navigate the cluttered social media world. It helps with everything from creating a mission statement for your personal brand to maintaining your presence on at least three social media platforms.

Even if personal branding doesn't appeal to you, holistic social media knowledge is essential, Colner said.

People may think they know all about social media, "but they don't get the full picture," Colner said. “It's important to see how all of these pieces fit together. That's what [certification] Program can help. "

Course: Introduction to Personal Branding

Provider: Coursera

Estimated completion time: Approximately 7 hours

Boasting: Course Certificate

5. Learning a second language

Learning a second language can be super practical. Bilingual workers earn 5 to 20% more than their monolingual counterparts, according to Salary.com.

And while the job market continues to globalize, nothing says “나를 고용 해요! (Hire me!) ”Like foreign language skills.

Duolingo, a free platform for language learners, has more than 150 million users worldwide. The website offers courses in Spanish, French, Chinese, and many others (even High Valyrian and Klingon). The lessons are divided into segments, using a combination of playful exercises, discussion questions, and leaderboards to keep you motivated.

Course: Languages ​​offered include Spanish, French, Chinese and Korean

Provider: Duolingo

Estimated Graduation Time: Learning a language is a lifelong endeavor.

Bragging rights: language certification (in beta)

View your Massive Open online course credit

If none of them offer online courses that fit your schedule, there are several MOOC platforms to choose from, always with upcoming courses. Top universities and other course providers offer many distance learning courses that professionals can benefit from.

When you've mastered each skill, don't just toss a few new bullet points on your resume and move on. If you've graduated from a leading university, include it in the higher education section of your résumé along with all other degrees. Attach the certification to your LinkedIn profile.

"At the end of the day, people look at your résumé for about seven seconds," said Brooks. "LinkedIn or your online portfolio is so much more important than a résumé."

These MOOC certifications aren't just useful when looking for a job. They are also valuable for current jobs and general career development. Because certifications testify to the initiative and ambition of employers, says Robin Colner, who runs her own certification program for digital and social media.

"It shows the desire and understanding of the market that every employer wants," said Colner. In this new age of remote working, it also shows you how to adapt to online learning environments.

Adam Hardy is a former writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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