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What after MOOC?

darshanjain profile image Darshan Jain ・4 min read

Certified Courses Vs Project-Based Learning
With the lockdown in place, I’m pretty sure you would have done at least one course from Coursera, Udemy, etc. That’s good, keep up with the good work but I am here just to share “my opinion” on these certified course learnings.
Let’s begin with a story :)

There are two students ‘A’ and ‘B’ from the same University. Both got the free MOOC learning package which gives you a legitimate certificate at the end of the course. ‘A’ chooses the course and gets going with it. ‘B’ takes a step back and thinks about the entire process, then he comes to the conclusion that he would go for project-based learning. By project-based learning, I mean that you work on a project and learn the tool as you are building it. It is assumed that both A and B know the fundamentals of computers/programming languages and other geeky stuff.
Let’s do a comparison. I mean, why not?
What does A do? (Online Certified Course)
Subscribes for a course on Coursera/Udemy etc.
Does the course by “watching” all the videos. Come on, who are we kidding? Given a course, we skip all the videos and end up with the “Valued Certificate”. If not all videos I’m pretty sure more than 70% of the people subscribing to it leave it halfway.
Publishes the Certificate on LinkedIn and makes a very pleasing feed.

Reminder: This article doesn’t intend to undermine online learning platforms. In fact, those sites are a blessing in disguise, especially in these challenging times.
Let’s see what B does? (Project-Based Learning)
Choosing the best-suited project. We all know how difficult it is to choose a project and to stay committed to the same project.
Next, B researches about the best source and mentors to learn & build from. Eventually, B lands on Youtube. ( Sidenote: Content creators on youtube are highly underrated as they use minimal resources and get the job done! People need to be patient and get used to just looking at the text editor window rather than falling for some good animations)
Now, the most difficult part of the project begins i.e. Building it! This may seem exciting but trust me, you’ll either lose motivation to build it or something miraculous could happen and you build it overnight itself.
Double or nothin’ :)
So, while actually working on the project, B has a hands-on approach to the tools and software and eventually masters it with time.
Let’s discuss BUGS. Y’all know debugging can be a pain but there is a silver lining for it too. While having to debug you start tinkering with the tool even more and land up on StackOverflow, Github and within no time you may see yourself getting all your bugs solved and it doesn’t end there. You start talking to a lot of like-minded people and who knows where those conversations lead to.
The tools and software used for learning purposes are majorly available for free and there is a huge community out there who are always happy to help. “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no”
B has successfully built the project. Everything works! Sigh of relief but there is more. He isn’t able to show the world that he has mastered some tool or at least built something amazing. A has an upper hand over B as his/her profile is polished.
B now has a problem and decides to publish his work. To do so he learns some other tools such as version control, Web Servers, Cloud Computers and all these other stuff which will help him to put his project under production.
Once his project is deployed he then later puts up a post on his profile as to What he was able to do? What did he learn while building it? What are his next ideas? How well was he able to design it? B is motivated and is pretty satisfied with what he was able to achieve.

I, feel that people, especially in the field of Science and Technology, need to start taking initiatives to build something rather than compiling certificates for their future jobs. Instead of doing a lot of things, people must now emphasis on application of the concepts learnt and appreciate the existing softwares and tools.
MOOC was the OG deal back in the day. Some 10 years ago it was one of mankind’s best way to educate the masses, but the same isn’t the case anymore. A lot of competition and capitalisation over this market has led on to its own downfall. “Too many cooks, spoil the broth.”
The entire scenario of recruiting technical personnel will be changed forever, HR managers nowadays look for people having inter-disciplinary skills and someone who is competent enough to build something from scratch. “ Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
So, to answer the question asked in the title. What after MOOC?
Work on several projects. Try your luck in all the different technical & non-technical fields available. Connect with more like-minded people so that you resonate at a higher wavelength.
BIG REVEAL [drumroll🥁]
I am pretty sure you would have self-introspected as to who you are.
Are you ‘A’ or ‘B’? — “Time will tell.”
To put it out there both ‘A’ and ‘B’ were me. When I had started with all these online learning courses I was as clueless as you, but the lockdown worked to my advantage. I had a couple of months to try and test which works out the best and I highly recommend you to take the project-based learning approach.

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