Corona Confinement - Online Learning Platforms to stay current

How to use the Corona confinement or quarantine productively with online learning

 

As a freelancer and a “one-woman”-show I have always tried to use online courses to learn more about new technologies and continue my education on a flexible time schedule. There are many platforms that offer free or reasonably priced online courses. You have the chance to acquire additional competencies in short webinars or use full-blown courses to become an expert in other areas. Courses are either self-paced or take place within a specific period of time, sometimes with periodic assignments. And do not forget YouTube, where lots of people and companies post explainer videos.

 

There is a wide variety of subjects on offer like Business, Chemistry, Communication, Design, Education, Electronics, Finance, Health, History, Engineering, Math, Psychology, Medicine and naturally Languages. Everybody from Developers and Project Managers to Logistics Experts and Human Resources Specialist will be able keep learning.

 

Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) have been on the market for some time now. There are specialized platforms, spin-offs by more or less renown universities or companies, working as for-profit or non-profit outfits. Let’s have a closer look at some of them.

 

https://www.edx.org

 

Checkout edX, which was founded as a non-profit organization by the US-American Ivy League institutions Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is not just a free online learning platform, but also an open-source provider of tools for web-based learning. Contributors are the founders MIT and Harvard, but also the University of California Berkeley, The University of Texas System and up to 120 other partnering institutes. Offers are free, but certificates to verify your participation are not.

 

Examples:

  • Dive into Applied Scrum for Applied Project Management in a 4-week course offered by the University of Maryland Project Management Center for Excellence. You will invest 2-3 hours/week. The course is free, unless you add a certificate that will set you back by 185 EUR.
  • Learn about Corporate Finance and the tools finance managers use in a 5 week course offered by IIMBx with an effort of 3-5 ours a week (add a certificate at 140 EUR).

 

https://online.stanford.edu

 

Stanford University manage their own online offer of a variety of courses, which also include free stuff in the Centre for Professional Development.

 

https://open.sap.com

 

Open SAP is a platform specializing on SAP’s products, which is offered in cooperation with the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI). The free courses include webinars that users can retrieve any time and work through at their own pace or scheduled courses with assignments. 

 

Microlearnings allow SAP users to look at new technologies or upskill for new software releases. Open SAP puts its focus on more general topics, while the relatively expensive fee-based Learning Hub offers more comprehensive and detailed trainings. The platform allows you to learn about SAP S/4HANA, machine learning, the internet of things, big data and data science, the SAP Cloud platform, the digital transformation, SAP Fiori UC and SAP BW/4HANA. The webinars are presented by leading SAP staff.

 

Examples:

  • Learn more about Implementing SAP S/4HANA Cloud with the Central Business Configuration Capability. The course is open for 5 weeks and you will need to invest 4-6 hours. There is a course assignment, that if successfully completed leads to a record of achievement certificate. If not or unsuccessfully completed, participants receive a confirmation of participation.
  • Learn more about SAP CRM with Transform Your CRM with SAP C/4HANA Movement in a 4-week course at 2-3 hours a week.

 

While the SAP Learning Hub is not free of charge, and at least for freelancers quite expensive, it provides access to additional learning resources like Bookboon.

 

https://coursera.com

 

The for-profit e-learning platform was founded by Stanford professors and now offers courses, specialisations and certificates but also full degrees in cooperation with educational institutions as Yale and the University of Pennsylvania as well as companies like Google and IBM. Learning Areas are IT, Data and Computer Science, Business, Languages, Health, Physics and Engineering, Math and Logic, Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities. Most offers are in English, some with subtitles in other languages.

 

Courses typically last 4-6 weeks. Some are free, paid ones start at 39 USD. Shorter Webinars are also available. You get a certificate upon completion. Specialisations and professional certificates concentrate on specific skills or business expertise. They are also available from 39 USD a month for a typical duration of 4-6 months. Free courses include negotiation skills, financial engineering, programming, management.

 

Examples:

  • Profit from a free 14-hours-course on Google Cloud Platform Fundamentals: Core Infrastructure.
  • Take part in the free Excel Skills for Business Specialisation by Macquarie University, fully online requiring 12 hours/week to complete.
  • Enroll for a course on Machine Learning by Stanford University which is 100% online and requires approximately 56 hours to complete and is also free.

 

In addition, so-called MasterTrack™ Certificates offer the opportunity to earn university certificates that count towards a master degree, starting at 2000 USD. They are offered by partner universities in the US. You, you may also earn a bachelors or master’s degree fully online, starting at 9000 USD. Mobile learning, academic support and sharable certificates give variable access and provide full documentation of trainings.

 

All platforms have offers for companies that plan to use the platforms for employee trainings.

 

https://www.udemy.com

 

The free for-profit platform was founded by a Turkish software developer who foresaw the potential of online learning when he was growing up in the country-side with limited access to higher schooling. Most offers area also in English, but there is a growing number of courses in other languages, including German. Starting from a group size of 5 people, Udemy offers a business solution.

 

Udemy features a very wide range of topics and courses. Categories on the platform are development, business, finance and accounting, IT and software, office productivity, personal development, design, marketing, photography, teaching and academics, etc. Many courses involve a money-back guarantee should they not be what your are looking for.

 

Examples:

  • Get going with JavaScript – Learn The Basics of JavaScript in a 1-hour free course.
  • Prepare for standard IT certifications as the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Certification for 49,99 EUR with 9 hours on-demand video including lifetime access to the course.
  • Improve your Excel skills with Microsoft Excel – Excel from Beginner to Advanced with 16 hours of video and additional materials and resources for 149,99 EUR.
  • Get started in SAP MM with SAP MM Purchasing Simplified for Beginners with 3 hours video and additional resources for 69,99 EUR.

 

https://www.udacity.com

 

Udacity is a for-profit platform for life-long learning specializing on education for IT and tech jobs. They offer so-called “nano degrees” in artifical intelligence, data science, cloud computing, programming and development and autonomous systems. There are also learnings on business topics and career development.

 

Examples:

  • Learn about Predictive Analytics For Business. The course has a duration of on average 3 months at 10 hours/week starting at 159 EUR per month.
  • Or become a Front End Web Developer over 4 on average 4 months starting at 159 EUR per month.

 

LinkedIn Learning

 

We know LinkedIn as a professional networking platform. But LinkedIn also provides online and mobile learning with certificates upon completion. The offer is subscription-based including a free trial month. The lowest subscription prices start at app. 29 EUR and offers unlimited access to all webinars (on subjects), courses (on software) and learning paths. Choose between monthly and yearly subscriptions and cancel anytime before renewal.

 

Three main categories – Business, Creative and Technology – include a vast array of online learnings. In Business you will, for example, learn about project management or Google Analytics. Learning Paths include Become a Manager, Become an SEO Expert or Become a Digital Marketer. In Creative dive into Web Design, learn how to work with InDesign or Lightroom and Become a Video Editor. Technology offers, among many others, courses on DevOps and Cloud Computing, shows you how to work with SQL or WordPress and how to become a Full-Stack Web or Python Developer.

 

Examples:

  • The learning path “Become a Pyhton Developer” includes over 32 hours of content. Upon completion you will earn a certificate.
  • Get familiar with the principles and guidelines of agile project management in Agile Foundations in 1.5 hours.
  • Get an introduction to Six Sigma: Black Belt in 2.5 hours

 

pmi.org

 

PMP® (project managers certified by the Project Management Institute) need to follow continuous education rules in order to renew their certification every 3 years. The PMI offers many paid for seminars, but also provides free roughly 1-hour webinars on specific topics. PM Edge, a platform to learn project management, is also free for all PMI Users and offers interactive study content mostly for project managers at the start of their career. In the Projectified TMPodcasts you will find talks on future trends and technologies by industry leaders or experienced project managers, which are free to download.

 

Examples:

  • Webinar: Think Like Amazon – Creating Change, Operational Excellence, and Innovation for Projects and Programs.
  • Webinar: Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers – One Unhappy Person can Ruin your Beautiful Plan
  • Webinar: The Agile Enterprise: The Agile Executive – What Does it mean?
  • Podcast: Lessons Learned – The Value of Knowledge Transfer
  • Podcast: Transformation – How to Manage Complexity 

 

The great advantage is that you can get going on short notice, practically at once, and work on skills for a few hours, weeks or months. During the Corona confinement we win a few hours as we cannot meet friends, attend training or cultural events. If you like,  invest them into your education and therefore in your future.

 

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