Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been already rapid growth in terms of adaptation and utility of education technology. According to Metaari, an advanced technology research firm, investment towards education technology has reached $18.66 billion in 2019 across the globe. This was following a record-breaking $16.34 billion last 2018 which was considered to be a milestone in the industry. People trying to be productive during the lockdowns have taken advantage of the meteoric rise in the number of online courses and educational services offered by firms that know that there are people who need to make most of their time where conventional means of career growth can be severely limited.
Most of the online courses being offered nowadays are within the Business and IT industries, which makes sense, as some of the skills and competencies required in these fields can be learned without any in-person interactions. Courses in graphic design, social media marketing, software development languages, and web design can easily be taught in a virtual setting as these skills only require good comprehension, having the right tools, and the ability to use these tools effectively to have a good foundation in what these courses aim to prepare the individual taking it. Completing online business courses, especially from a reputable institution such as Harvard through their Harvardx series of online courses can give a sense of accomplishment. But completing an online course or a series of online courses is still not comparable to a complete degree, whether taken online or in-class. But is it completely a waste of effort? Or does it have its value in career building?
Top schools do not usually offer online degrees as it can decrease the value of the degree if too many people acquire the same degree from the same school. This is from an article by Bloomberg in examining the reasons as to why instead of offering online degrees, top universities often use MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) through platforms such as Coursera and Edx. Such example is Harvard opting to use Edx and offering MOOCs through their Harvardx program. MOOCs are the compromise these institutions have created in which people can experience digitally how it feels like to be a student in an ivy-league school. It is a good way to market what these top schools can offer students at a lower cost, at the same time, a good opportunity for people with limited accessibility. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School is one of the first universities to offer MBA related courses through Coursera. Wharton spent up to $50k per class in producing these MOOCs which are offered for only $49 at Coursera for students who wish to have a verified certificate.
Taking online courses should not be considered as an end-all, be-all in terms of skills acquisition and employer recognition. It is not meant to be a “shortcut” in terms of acquiring all of the necessary skills in the job that you want to land. But it would certainly show your effort and passion in your field of interest. More than a degree and related experience, employers seek individuals who are passionate in there chosen fields. Good work ethics and attitude are invaluable assets a job seeker can possess that cannot be simply ignored by firms. Completing online courses and extra-curricular projects relevant to your career can significantly contribute in increasing your value as a job applicant. More than catering towards the prospect of showing your value to your future employer, taking these online courses should be considered more of investment towards personal growth. The value of education and imbibing the knowledge you acquire through your efforts is priceless. Education technology and MOOCs would only continue to grow, even post-pandemic, and investing time and effort towards personal growth is always worth it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ronald is a marketing communication specialist and a TEFL certified online educator. He enjoys reading novels and writing prose as a freelancer. He has an undergraduate degree in Organizational Communication and a master’s degree in Marketing Communication. He has also worked in the academe as a lecturer and consultant in the fields of Marketing and Communication Studies.