3 Easy Online Courses Worth Taking

By Julia Dunn on April 8, 2018

The online course. It’s probably crossed most students’ minds throughout the course of their college education to give one a try, and even after graduation, the learning should never stop! You may have entertained the idea of learning organic chemistry in your pajama pants, a cup of hot chocolate to your right, a notebook to your left.

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Online courses offer flexibility for nontraditional students who may have full-time jobs, re-entry students hoping to ease their way back into the usual classroom setting, and students with otherwise complicated schedules that do not lend themselves to an in-person classroom experience. But how do you determine which online courses are worth taking?

Here are 3 easy online courses to take that won’t waste your time.

1. “Personal Finance”

Offered by Missouri State University, this class will teach you highly practical tips for navigating personal saving, credit and retirement planning. If you’re fuzzy about your finances, this eight-class course will help you gain more control over money management.

According to USA TODAY, you can find the course on iTunes U and Youtube via Open Culture, a site any student seeking online courses should visit, as it “allows you to search for free online classes by topic, then directs you to all available formats.” Given that this course’s topic is non-academic, it shouldn’t pose too much stress for students, and even finance-savvy students could find this class a nice refresher that will set them on a steady path to financial stability.

2.Communication Skills and Team Building”

The second course in Fullbridge’s four-part Career Development XSeries, “Communication Skills and Team Building” can help any student succeed regardless of their field/major. If you find interest in personal and professional development, you’ll enjoy the tips this course offers to help you thrive in the workplace and improve relationships with colleagues.

The course requires only an hour or two per week, and the benefits of learning better communication strategies outweigh the $60 cost. According to the class description, you will learn “how to determine the most appropriate format for different messages, how to use top-down thinking to structure your communications, how to manage conflict in a professional and appropriate manner, how to achieve team synergy by using the forming, storming, norming, and performing methodology, and how to scope, plan, execute, and reflect on projects,” among other topics. Students may think they know all there is to know about best practices for communication, but there’s always more to learn, and knowing how to collaborate with others will serve anyone for a lifetime.

3. “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior”

The title alone makes me want to enroll in this course. The class, accessible via Coursera but hosted by Duke University, claims to “introduce students to the range of cases where people make decisions inconsistent with standard economic theory, which assumes rational decision making, and think about how insights about that sort of behavior can be applied”–but don’t worry if you’re not that well-versed in behavioral economics. The course listing claims students only need to have “curiosity about human nature.” It seems highly promising, especially given the instructor, Dan Ariely, is highly recognized in the field.

In general, it’s worth noting that the subject of your online class may affect your motivation and productivity. In high school, I opted to take U.S. History course online instead of in-person because it was my least favorite subject. I figured that it was the most sensical choice, that it would be less bothersome if I didn’t have to physically sit in a history class. However, I quickly learned that the less you enjoy your online course, the more likely you’ll put off the coursework and become frustrated when you cannot receive immediate support from an instructor.

I now believe it’s much easier to take an online class that excites you, whose coursework you won’t want to delay each night when your calendar alerts you to complete readings and take that pesky comprehension quiz. Additionally, it’s not always the best idea to take many classes for your major online, as you’ll usually get the most immersive experience in a physical classroom with peers and instructors accessible.

Lastly, while these courses are relatively “easy,” online courses taken for more academic purposes can be as challenging (or more challenging) than a traditional course. As said in an article by Rasmussen College, “It’s true that online courses offer you the flexibility to learn in your own time and space, but that doesn’t change the amount of work you put in. You still have the same amount of work—just without the formal classroom setting.” That said, you get out of an online course exactly what you put into it.

To search for online classes that peak your interest, try browsing on edX, a free online course platform that lets you search for what you’d like to learn! Coursera, a similar site, will also direct you to tons of courses across disciplines.

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
A writer, editor and educator based in Northern California.

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