From North Campus to MOOCs: My musings on continual education

Note: I am not an education expert, and all of my musings are based solely on my personal experience and career to date in Marketing & Advertising. Take my thoughts with a grain of branded salt. 

 As a proud alumna of The University of Georgia (Go DAWGS!!!), I am definitely all for a brick and mortar education when possible. There are organic things that happen when you're vis-à-vis with your professors and peers that are invaluable to a well-rounded education. However, as technology enables more options for learning via the interwebs, the stakes for knowledge grow ever higher and the quality of online education increases, I have started contemplating a few things. 

  • What does an ongoing education look like for us in the future?
  • Will online education become so democratized that it will provide a viable alternative to an expensive brick and mortar education in the future? 

First, what does ongoing education look like? In years past, a Bachelor's degree was the price of entry into most careers. Today, an MBA or graduate degree of institutionalized education is status quo. However, as the bar for standardized education rises, what will be the new factor to sift out the best candidates for a role? Enter ongoing education via online methods. From Skillshare to General Assembly to MOOCs on Coursera, there is no lack of hyper-relevant training in any field of expertise. The ability to hone your skills and learn new ones are simply a matter of time commitment.  

As someone who has interviewed a fair share of candidates, I think that an ongoing approach to education and betterment of oneself is vital. Not only does it show intellect and dedication, but it shows a desire to continually improve and build yourself into a well-rounded thinker. That is the kind of person that I want on my team. 

Secondly, will online education methods enable a viable alternative to brick and mortar education in the future? We are all well aware that the cost of education continues to climb. That's not new news. As someone who is still paying down my student debt, I definitely empathize with the pain of getting paid vs. paying to learn. But I have also seen the ROI that my education has had in my career. However, a 2, 4 or 6+ year degree program is not an option for everyone. So, could the right combination of coursera.org classes equal a degree of sorts? Is a layered approach to learning the future? It's a loaded question for sure, but it's an interesting one to consider. 

I have taken classes from an array of these online sources to keep myself sharp and to acquire new skills. I'm currently taking my first Coursera class, Model Thinking, on the Signature Track (which means I'll receive a verified certificate from the University of Michigan upon successful completion).  My first MOOC has been a great experience thus far, and it has provided a unique opportunity to learn with 50,000+ students around the globe. 

Some sites, like Skillshare, have taken a Netflix approach and provide unlimited learning for a monthly fee. I think that's a great way to spur an ongoing approach to learning. Others, like Coursera, provide education from top tier institutions at no cost. There is also no shortage of these sites -- edX, Khan Academy, udemy, and on and on. 

So, what's your take on online learning? Love it? Hate it? Think it's the future of education? Curious to hear your thoughts and to learn about any sites that you have found extremely useful. But for now, back to my MOOC.