This article originally appeared on the staffmagnet, LLC blog HERE. The Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) movement has lead many people to start adding MOOCs to their online activities. With services like Coursera, EDx and UDacity you can take an online course from most top Ivy League and elite Universities (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, UPenn, Duke, Rice University) as well as an increasing number of non-Ivy’s non-elite ones. If you take a course on Coursera you can pay a $49 fee to get a certificate for courses that you have completed. It isn’t long before you begin to consider whether or not you could substitute courses taken across different universities for actual degree programs. So if you are like me, you are probably thinking something along the lines of: “Is ok to put MOOC Courses on my resume?” which would not be out of line.
The simple answer is that you absolutely can and should put MOOC Courses on your resume provided that you are not just bing watching watching MOOCs like you are binge watching House of Cards or Game of Thrones or The Good Wife. The reason being that you should be successfully completing the quizzes and exercises in these programs so that you master the material. If there is outside reading required then you should do that too. In other words, you should be able to treat a course on Coursera just like a live course. After all, the only difference is that you are not in the classroom. Sometimes the content may be a little watered down from the real classroom, but in my experiences taking classes from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business or from Princeton or from the University of New Mexico Computer Science Department the courses are rigorous and the exercises require a commitment to the course.
You may not find everyone will agree with me on this. I personally would not weight a compilation degree involving Coursera degrees and a completed degree from a four year college or multi-year masters degree program equally. There are differences in the overall experience. The same is true with programs like the University of Phoenix or Devry or the ITT Technical Institute, but if I had to compare someone who learned Computer Science or Programming from Coursera or a four year college vs. a technical trade school like Devry or ITT then I would still substantially downgrade the certificate or “degree” from a Devry or ITT. For University of Phoenix or Strayer or Kaplan University, or similar programs, that would be something that I would rate higher than a Devry or ITT, but much lower than a traditional four year degree program.
Much of the scale that I use for consideration of educational credentials has to do with who the instructors are, what the quality of the curriculum is, what the quality of the instructional materials are, and most important of all: what is the caliber of the peer group in classes. For example: if you take a Coursera you really do not have a “peer” group. If you take an course via Kaplan University or the University of Phoenix you are getting whoever was willing to respond to that free red Lobster ad in Yahoo! Mail or on a random website or someone who was a lead culled from other methods. This is not always the case, but just can’t suspend disbelief long enough to consider someone chose KU or UP for the rigor or program quality just like I can’t for Devry or ITT Tech. I am going to take someone who went to a traditional four year degree program more seriously.
BUT, what I do take more seriously than where someone took a course or earned a degree is what their actual capabilities and experiences are. For example: if you are applying for a job programming in Python I am going to have an in depth conversation with you about that. So if you took two MOOCs on Python and that helps you to have a discussion about Python then you are probably better off than if you had not. Also, if you took those courses and can use Python as a result of them then you are better off.
Ultimately, your resume is a snapshot of who YOU are. If you are improving your skill set and becoming a better professional by taking MOOCs then by all means share it on your resume.
Here is a question that I found on Reddit this morning:
Would a MOOC Course be considered in lieu of a undergraduate course requirement for graduate school?