Online education opportunities are proliferating like crazy, with new courses and learning communities popping up almost daily. Many people are using these non-traditional resources to expand their own knowledge and skill sets, either to improve their current job performance or to prepare to change jobs or careers. These courses and programs can give job seekers a leg up by helping them demonstrate their knowledge and skills acquisition as well as motivation for personal and professional development. Here are four ways online students (and offline, for that matter) can showcase your online learning to stand apart from the crowd:
If you have taken a massive open online course (MOOC), don’t be afraid to add it to your resume. Even though the courses many not be officially recognized or credit-bearing, the fact that you took one shows that you are an independent, proactive self-starter. Especially for people who have been out of school for awhile, MOOCs provide an excellent way to show you are keeping up with current trends and information. Be sure to include any certificates (or other forms of recognition) you earn.
In many fields, such as programming and web development, your formal credentials are much less important than what you can do. Highlight projects you have worked on, whether in a class or on your own, using a digital portfolio linked to your resume. Aspiring programmers can create a portfolio that displays their apps and web development work as well as links to their GitHub and Stackoverflow accounts; up-and-coming designers can create digital portfolios that showcase their best work; and developing content and communications professionals can show off their social media and networking prowess with portfolios linked to their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. Digital portfolios are not limited to digital professionals – with a little creativity, people in almost any field can benefit from moving their resumes and portfolios online. For example, teachers who have contributed to open educational resources can provide links to their course materials and lesson plans.
The Mozilla Open Badges Project is a digital framework for collecting, organizing, and displaying all kinds of knowledge and skills. You can earn badges for everything from on-the-job training and online courses to volunteer activities. Any organization can create and issue badges, and the project has gained considerable credibility through the participation of governmental organizations, such as NASA and the New York City Department of Education, as well as museums, non-profits, and even well-known companies (e.g., Intel).
Degreed is a web application that quantifies your lifelong education and experience, regardless of how you earned it. This free service tracks your entire educational history, including both courses completed in accredited programs and informal learning experiences such as MOOCs, so you earn recognition for the work you have done, even if it doesn’t add up to a degree.
Millions of people around the world are engaging in independent informal learning experiences, and HR departments are starting to take notice. Make sure you are getting the proper recognition for all of your educational pursuits.