Are you using MOOCs to advance your career?

“Software is eating the world!” exclaimed venture capitalist and technology expert Marc Andreseen in a Wall Street Journal interview in 2014. Marc was passionately explaining why he felt there wasn’t a tech bubble and that more and more technology would be developed at a faster pace, disrupting traditional business models. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) were well on their way of tearing down the walls of higher education and democratizing learning for the entire world. This would have incredible implications for people around the world.

Those who wonder about the impact of technology on the world only have to look at the December 2014 $41.2 billion dollar valuation of Uber, the mobile app that allows all car drivers to become taxis and for regular pedestrians to hail them as needed, to see how technology is changing the world. Taxi drivers in cities all around the world are protesting this development as their livelihoods overnight are threatened while local governments come to grips with the loss of tax revenue and regulation of taxi services. Those who are losing their jobs to this new technology are understandably upset but ask users in many metropolitan areas if they like Uber and you will get an almost religious zealotry response.

I am a raving fan. On a recent trip to Chicago with my family I waited with my wife and five children in a long line of people outside the Shed Aquarium to get a taxi back to our hotel. The wind off Lake Michigan ripped through the line of stranded tourists and we waited for the taxis one by one to slowly appear. My family was about 50 people back and it looked like we could be there for over an hour. I pulled out my iPhone and used Uber. Within 7 minutes a black Suburban pulled up to the front of the line and my entire family walked up by passing the masses waiting for a taxi and got in the heated vehicle as people in line looked on wondering what was going on.

If you can revolutionize the taxi industry with technology and a simple app, all industries can be disrupted. All industries are being disrupted. The key is to understand what is going on and how to be prepared, how not to get run over by the runaway technology revolution and to use it for your personal benefit. MOOCs are revolutionizing education and business and it will have an impact on your career. I want you to be prepared and and leverage it for career advancement.  Everyone I speak with say continuing education is critical for career advancement but many I know are worried about the cost and time investment. MOOCs are your answer…did you know you can get an Ivy League education for free? Read on…

The higher education system in the United States is ripe for disruption and it is currently underway. By 2014, the average student graduating from college was drowning with $30,000 in student loan debt. Bloomberg reported the cost of a college education had risen over 500% since 1985 and that student loan debt in the US was at $1.2 trillion more than all credit card debt in the country. The multi-generational pathway to the middle class and success in the United States was quickly becoming a pathway to despair. Rising costs of education along with rising student loan debts coupled with a global recession that started in 2008 leading to high unemployment and lack luster job creation had people wondering how to develop a new system, a new pathway for a new generation that could democratize education not just for the United States but the world. MOOCs were about to be born.

I met Krishna Palepu in January 2014 at Harvard Business School. His wife was an HBS MBA with a former business partner of mine and I had heard a lot about his thirty-year career at Harvard. He is an admired professor and senior advisor to the president at Harvard on global strategy. Over dinner I asked Krishna how higher education was changing and what we should expect in the years to come. I had just received a lecture from a Harvard Business School professor about MOOCs and that Harvard had been late to the party and was playing catch up with other schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Krishna told me a pivotal moment in the MOOC revolution came two years earlier when MIT launched a test. A senior professor at MIT wanted to see if a MOOC could work with highly advanced curriculum and chose to do it with one of the most difficult undergraduate classes at the university, Circuits and Electronics. Not knowing what to expect, he posted the course online and allowed anyone to enroll. In short order, over 150,000 people globally signed up to take the course. At the end of the course surprisingly the top performing students where not MIT students but participants taking the class from around the world in their homes. One student was fifteen-year-old Battishig Myanganbayar from Ulan Bator, Mongolia who scored a perfect score, one of a few in the 150,000 who took the class. The MOOC had proven to be a success and MIT was off to the races with other Ivy League schools like Harvard putting their top classes in an online MOOC. MITx became EdX, one of the best and most well respected MOOC platforms globally. Have you ever wanted to receive an education from one of the best colleges in the world? Now you can and for free! What happened to little Battishig? He received a full ride to MIT.

Most experts agree the MOOC revolution started in 2012 and like any new exciting opportunity it exploded with investments from big venture capital firms and many new players entered the space to disrupt the old vestiges of power in the higher education world. Krishna warned that everyone will have to change but that the big brands like Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League schools and other top tier universities will have an easier time weathering the storm of change. After all, the brand itself is so strong everyone wants to attend those institutions but what happens when you can get a world-class education from these institutions for free? Will people still be willing to pay 30-40k a year to attend a lower tier state school with the prospect of accumulating massive debt and having a hard time to find a job at the end of the process. Krishna said all schools will be under immense pressure to lower cost and increase value for their students and some will have a harder time adjusting than others. The revolution was under way.

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Many players entered the space almost overnight to start building MOOC platforms and to aggregate the best teaching from around the world. Former Stanford professors quit their jobs and started, one of the top for profit MOOCs in the world. and were also started and both offer some of the finest teachers and courses from the best institutions from around the world. For those who wish to complete courses and keep track of their progress, they also offer certifications that verify you passed these courses. and Khan Academy are both non-proft with Khan Academy receiving funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation with the goal to help provide a world-class education available to everyone globally.



  1. Coursera – for profit (founded by Stanford Professors)
  2. Udacity – for profit
  3. Udemy – for profit (anyone can upload a course)
  4. EdX – non-profit (started by MIT. Harvard, Ivy League, and top universities have courses available.)
  5. Khan Academy – non-profit, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To get a free e-book on this subject that covers the top MOOC’s, how to register for a course, get certifications, display these on your resume and LinkedIn accounts, leverage these free classes for your career, and more click on this link. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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