MOOC Your Way to a New Beginning

Have you ever heard of a MOOC?

No, it isn’t an exotic cow; it’s a Massive Open Online Course. Through a MOOC, you can take a class online with 10,000 or so fellow learners and earn credit from a top university.

Do you get that?

You don’t need student loans or unnecessary curriculum to earn a degree in your new field.

The most popular course ever offered as a MOOC is called Learning How to Learn. The professor, Barbara Oakley, is not from the discipline of education, as you might imagine, but rather a professor of engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, MI.

Her new book, Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential is a gold mine of neuroscience research and tips for expanding your ability to learn.

She talks about the importance of video and gamification in learning, and how metaphor and analogy present concepts in an accessible way.   She tells stories of real people who changed their lives by educating themselves through MOOCs.

A well-designed MOOC is a gateway to learning things you never thought you could. Even things you gave up on because you were convinced you were too dumb. You know, like math.

The cool thing about a MOOC is the affordability. You can dabble in, say, Script Writing, or Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals for free through Of course, if you want credit at the university offering the class, there is a fee.

Don’t think, however, that a MOOC is to be taken lightly. These are real university courses and will stretch your brain in new ways. Oakley emphasizes that to be successful in learning in this way, you will need to schedule dedicated time for it.


To peruse the many, many offerings online, Oakley suggests to run a search. Some topics include Computer Science (naturally…), Business, Art and Design, Personal Development, Social Sciences, Humanities and many others. There are thousands of courses available for you!

Not all MOOCs are the same. According to her research, Oakley suggests you look for:

  • Metaphor and analogy – wrapped, wherever possible, into visuals and motion
  • Well-done visuals that relate directly to the material (not generic clip art)
  • Lots of motion and rapid cutting
  • Humor
  • Discussion forums and other ways to actively interact with other learners
  • Gamification – bringing in point-scoring, competitive, fun elements
  • A well-designed, easy-to-follow course structure
  • Quizzes
  • A final project

MOOCs Give You Hope and Progress

So many of my readers feel stuck in circumstances not of their own choosing.

Sometimes they’ve topped out in their career and their new boss is, um, clueless? Or perhaps the kids have fledged and they’re feeling empty nested. Or maybe they’re just feeling uneasy with the status quo and wondering where their life is taking them.

MOOC’s help you reclaim your future. By taking charge of your knowledge and skill base, you reclaim your life.

If you could learn something new, what would it be? Please comment below!

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