MOOC Review: What to Do If You Need to Learn New Skills for a Career Change?
Recently, the New York Times described one of the most popular MOOCs (massive open online courses) ever, Learning How to Learn with Barbara Oakley and Terrence Sejnowski. Learning How to Learn gives people, and specifically anxious students, tools to prepare their brains for learning. Oakley has also written a book and created a new MOOC (also with Terrence Sejnowski) called Mindshift. It contains much of the same content as Learning How to Learn, but with an emphasis on career changers. Since I work with a lot of people trying to move in a different direction and who often have a skills gap, I was curious if Mindshift would be helpful to them.
I found that not only were the concepts sound and useful, but that Oakley (who did most of the lecturing) was surprisingly forthright and inspiring. She added snippets about how she overcame obstacles throughout her life, transitioned from being a Russian translator to a systems engineer, almost flunked out of grad school (and this was after flunking her way through math in elementary, middle, and high school), made herself sick with stress, and went on to get her PhD. Her personal sharing transformed a MOOC of great content (although with some goofy animations and slightly annoying intro music) to a work of art and insight. She is a woman of varied interests (she’s written books both on mathematics and the genetics of evil—no really!) and international adventures. Mindshift provides the tools and inspiration to overcome your personal obstacles and traumas to make the changes that you want in your life. Plus, it’s free!