Online coursework is becoming more and more popular, and there are a number of colleges that offer free classes. Even popular and well known schools like MIT offer most of their coursework online for free, for people to do in their spare time. Here are the top 3 skills to improve before applying for MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).
- Touch Typing
Proper touch typing is possibly the most important skill that you should improve before applying to online courses. There is no other skill that will serve you better. Keep in mind that the average adult types at about 40 words per minute. A hunt and peck typist, on the other hand, will only usually manage about 20 words per minute for memorized material, and less for material that has to be copied. For online courses, every discussion and assignment is going to have to be typed. While you can manage with just hunt and peck skills, learning proper touch typing skills can increase the ease and efficiency with which you finish your assignments. This becomes especially important if you are taking multiple classes at a time, because it will allow you to finish your assignments much faster. Just look at the math. If you are assigned a 1000 word essay and you utilize the hunt and peck typing technique, it will take you the better part of an hour to finish. This doesn't even account for typos or breaks that you might take. If you type 60 words per minute, though, it will take you somewhere around 15 minutes to type the same number of words.
- Time Management
One of the major skills that many people neglect is time management, both for online and in-person classes. It can be easier to manage your time when you have to drive or walk to a campus in order to take your classes. Online students don't often have that benefit. Learning good time management skills can help you, as a student, to keep up with your classes and assignments. Keep a schedule or calendar of all your classes and assignments. This can be physical, like a notepad or calendar, or kept digitally on your computer or mobile devices. This tool can help you organize your time so that all of your assignments are on time, and you never miss a lecture or discussion. While this may seem tedious, it is one of the easiest ways to make sure you keep up with everything that you need to do for each class. Consider also setting aside or scheduling a specific time each day to check in with your classes. Whether or not you have a planned discussion, it pays to keep up with any updates or discussions that your teacher or classmates may have posted.
- Study Style
This may seem like an obvious statement, but there is more to studying than just opening a book and looking at the pages. It will also take some time to discover what study strategies that work the best for you personally. Some people study better when music is playing, while others prefer silence. Some will type their notes and retain it better, where others have to write them long hand to be able to remember. These are only a couple of the variables to consider when setting up your study plan. It will take some trial and error to discover where you study best. Do you think well in busy, bustling places like Starbucks, or do you think well when you are alone? Before you enroll in online classes (for example at Coursera), spend some time experimenting to discover what works best for you. While it may seem like a waste of time, it is one of the few skills that you can learn with a little time and effort, and will make it much easier to be successful in online courses.
Online coursework is an amazing tool for people to improve their skills and even if the courses do not offer accreditation, many offer completion certificates to the people who take them. These can be a great way to flesh out a resume, or simply to improve your own outlook on things. It is important to spend a little time each day learning something new, and the skills listed above are extremely helpful in that pursuit.