If you work for a small or micro business, the opportunities for professional development in-house are probably a lot more limited than with large enterprises that commonly have education initiatives such as tuition reimbursement programs. In addition, working in the field probably keeps you super busy, maybe even on the road all the time, making it difficult to find the time to keep up with the rapid advances occurring in almost every endeavor. Fortunately, along with such advances comes a wide array of free online continuing education sources you can take advantage of wherever and whenever you want.
As of 2017, edX partners with more than 90 top universities and institutions around the world to offer free online courses in a wide range of subjects, including computer science, engineering, electronics, psychology, and many others. These high-quality courses are available to anyone with a web browser-enabled device and access to the internet. If you want to show evidence youve completed courses through edX, or even transfer those toward earning degrees, consider enrolling in one of edXs certificate programs, such as the MicroMasters program, which was created by top universities to provide students with credit toward a master’s degree.
ALISON offers hundreds of free workplace-focused online courses in a wide range of subjects. A majority of students reported gains in employment and greater workplace confidence as a result of taking courses through ALISON. In addition, ALISON offers a globally recognized and verifiable certificate program so you can provide proof of completed coursework to employers and customers. Course categories you may find especially useful as a field professional include Business and Enterprise Skills, Health and Safety and Compliance, and Digital Literacy and IT Skills. The latter category offers basic courses in information technology as well as more advanced courses such as Cloud Computing and App Development. With modern business increasingly reliant on cloud computing, mobile apps, and other technology trends, taking such courses can go a long way toward helping you achieve your career goals.
Microsoft Virtual Academy
As you might expect, Microsoft Virtual Academy’s wide selection of free online courses is heavily concentrated in information technology and business applications of technology and the internet. Some courses include successful B2B selling and enabling Office365 clients, as well as numerous courses on using Windows operating systems. Microsoft Virtual Academy has a certificate-like program called Learning Paths that allows you to earn a badge that shows off your completed coursework in a subject. In addition, its platform lets you stop at any point, and then pick up where you left off using any web-enabled device.
Because it integrates with iPods and other app-ready Apple mobile devices, iTunesU is especially convenient for field pros owning such devices. Typically composed of podcasts and audio and video subscriptions, iTunesU’s courses are easy to digest after a hard day’s work in the field. Courses are searchable by university affiliation or subject, or you can pull up a list of courses that are the most downloaded or noteworthy. Many courses are free, and there is a large course offering with an emphasis on technology subjects. The wide availability of free online courses such as these has spawned the acronym MOOC, which stands for Massive Open Online Courses. Consider using a MOOC to advance your knowledge and career opportunities or earn college credit at your own pace while traveling down the road, kicking back in a hotel room, or relaxing at home.