March 13, 2014, 7:00 PM — “I’m spending the week in a professional development class! I’ll cram an entire class into five sixteen-hour days. Then I’ll take a grueling test. And when I get back to work I’ll be so behind, I’ll be working weekends for a month! I’m so excited!” Yep. That is exactly what you say -- probably never! -- about fitting learning into your already busy work schedule.
But, in IT, things change fast. And if you fail to change with them you might feel yourself becoming increasingly irrelevant. So, even if you don’t proclaim it with that level of excitement, you are probably thinking about doing exactly that. After all, better skills mean better money -- and more interesting work -- and you probably would like to proclaim, “I just got a huge pay bump!” Or "I love my new job!" with some exclamation points.
But you don’t have to go it old school when it comes to going back to school. A clever nerd, could probably find a way to fit learning that same professional or technical skill into time that’s currently a bit of a waste. How about the hour you spend watching soaps and news while on the treadmill? And that time you spend catching up on not-so-relevant emails during your train commute? Saturday morning lying in bed? That’s the sort of time you recoup when you do a Coursera class on your iPad. (The site recently launched an iPad app so you can take the classes with you.)
“Fifty percent of the people taking our classes do so for professional reasons,” says Julia Stiglitz, Head of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Coursera, And for that reason, this massive open online course (MOOC) maker offers “Specializations” in areas that allow for career advancements, many of them within IT.
These specializations are a series of courses bundled together that culminate in a Capstone project where you demonstrate – to the class and yourself – what you have learned. So, for example, in Mobile Cloud Computing with Android you enroll in three classes that pull together and teach the various skills necessary. You don’t have to take the classes all at once, in fact they all have different start dates. When you have completed them all, you tackle the project. And after you submit that – and get it graded and reviewed by your peers – you’ll get a certificate saying you completed this MOOC.
Take that to your boss and keep your weekends to yourself.