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I've recently started a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) specialisation track with coursera. This is related to building upon my existing skills to take me to another performance level. I'm already a qualified professional at masters level but this study is a little off field.

It's 9 modules + project - I'm paying $50 per module to get verified. This does help to keep me focused but over the course of the program $450 makes me think if updating my LinkedIn profile with verifiable links is worth anything extra?

It's hard slog, 9 months of study, tests, assignments. Personally, I value the programme. I feel reinvigorated as I'm learning new things that will bolster my repertoire.

Will my next employer recognise value in me from completing the program? I'd like to think so but they are so new I expect the response will be 'what is a mooc?'

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As an employer, I rarely value any kind of software language education as highly as software language experience. If you know C# because you were taught it, that's not as valuable as you knowing C# because you were paid to use it all day. Don't get me wrong, it's still better than not knowing it at all, but learning isn't doing, right?

However, I value commitment to learning and improvement tremendously. Recently I helped a client interview for a senior dev, among other help I was providing to their team. When I first showed up I offered the team lead a handful of Pluralsight free-month cards (disclaimer: which I have because I record courses for them), and he wasn't super enthusiastic, having never heard of Pluralsight. Then he noticed that all the best candidates, when asked about how they kept up to date with new tech, replied that they bought their own Pluralsight subscriptions. After the third one he said "I think I need to check into this Pluralsight thing!" If you list your verified completions, an interviewer will know this about you even before the interview, and I think that has value. Not so much because it proves your skills in C# or Java or jQuery or whatever, but because it proves that you will keep yourself trained no matter what else is happening around you.

ps: if you think it would be cool to claim to have a subscription you don't have, be careful you don't find yourself sitting across the desk from someone you clearly have never heard of who in fact recorded the courses you said you liked. Just sayin'.

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Will my next employer recognise value in me from completing the program? I'd like to think so but they are so new I expect the response will be 'what is a mooc?'

I suspect there are employers who value verified MOOC-acquired knowledge, although I don't know of any.

Unfortunately, I believe it's too new for most employers to have encountered applicants supplying such background for it to be considered of much value.

I think you need to value the learning you gain mostly for what it gives to you personally - the new things you know and the vigor it instills.

I do think it might lead to a great interview conversation when you inevitably are asked "what is a MOOC?" and you provide an answer that shows how much it has added to your skill set and energy. I'm sure interviewers will like to hear that.

If you are asking if it is worth $450 to be verified, that's harder to say.

And if you are asking if MOOC-acquired knowledge is the equivalent of a degree or traditionally-acquired knowledge, then at this time I think the answer is "No". I suspect that could change as this form of education becomes more common.

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Of course you should update your Linked In profile and mention this training in your resume! It cannot hurt, and it very likely will help you get the interview for your next job (which is the purpose of your profile and resume).

You're already trained at a Master's degree level, so you are expected to know a lot of stuff. Completing this MOOC shows that you're committed to continuing to learn new things throughout your career. That commitment is a priceless asset for you and your employer.

Completing a nine-unit MOOC on your own time at your own expense shows serious initiative and dedication on your part. Because it's new, it also shows you to have an innovative approach to learning.

When you go for interviews, be prepared for a critical conversation about your MOOC experience. For example, somebody might ask "should we ask other people in this company to do MOOCs?" In a conversation like that, offer some wisdom about the pros and cons of your MOOC and MOOCs in general.

  • Thanks everyone - you have interesting reflections. I'm a big fan of the Coursera material (data analysis). Similar to any chunky learning process we come out of it feeling better and after years of experience I'm still learning things that are increasing my circle of influence. I hope the MOOC's are sustained. – Leehbi Aug 24 '14 at 12:20

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