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Free Online Education – How It’s Revolutionizing The Job Market

This guest post was written and submitted by Nate Ryerson. See full author’s bio below.

For many centuries, universities and colleges have stood as golden gateways into the workforce. Without a degree from one of these hallowed institutions, the doors to many professions were completely shut off. While there are still many professions where university degrees remain a barrier to entry, the internet has also opened the doors in many professions to individuals who can demonstrate their merit – whether or not they have an official degree.

An individual’s online footprint can now serve as their resume, especially in industries that encourage innovation and creativity. Web developers, programmers, graphic designers, photographers, writers, videographers, marketers, search engine optimizers, and many more professions are employed based primarily on what they’ve accomplished, not based on pedigree. A writer can show employers their freelance work for online blogs and magazines, a web developer can show the projects they’ve worked on, a photographer can display their portfolio of work online, a programmer can show the iPhone app they developed, and the list goes on.

How Free Online Education Changes The Gameonline learning courses

Although employers in many professions hire based on demonstrated merit rather than based on degrees, in many instances, universities and colleges are still the best place to learn useful skills and gain valuable knowledge. But over the last half a decade, free online education sources have become widely available. The OpenCourseWare Consortium, Academic Earth and Coursera for example have partnered with major universities to deliver courses – available free as audio or video lectures – to anyone with an interest in learning.

These free courses aren’t just available from low level institutions either. World renowned institutions such as MIT, Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, Stanford, Brown, UC Irvine, University of Toronto, Princeton, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Tufts amongst many, many others all offer courses through the OpenCourseWare Consortium and Coursera. Other top institutions like Harvard and Yale also offer open courses through their university websites. Open education means that anyone with a passion and dedication can learn about such topics as business, economics, computer science, architecture, or physics from some of the top universities in the world.

In addition to free courses offered by traditional universities, there are also revolutionary web startups and non-profit organizations looking to democratize education in particular areas. The Khan Academy offers extremely user-friendly lectures on a whole range of mathematics topics, from simple arithmetic to advanced calculus. Codeacademy provides free, user-friendly lessons in a variety of programming languages. iTunes U provides a vast array of lectures straight to your iPhone or iPad.

What This Means For Job Seekers

When you combine the free open education available through online sources and the growing number of professions that look to demonstrated accomplishment rather than pedigree, you have an environment where anyone can be successful. This is especially important in developing countries, where access to traditional higher learning may not be accessible to much of the population. A poor aspiring web developer or graphic designer can now get free, world-class open education online. A brilliant young mind with limited resources can now get a world class computer science education for free online, and anyone with an internet connection and a thirst for knowledge can develop a well-rounded education in subjects like world history, english literature, or advanced economics with the click of a mouse.

Although most of these free online educational programs don’t offer accredited degrees, the ability to showcase one’s work by freelancing or building personal projects means that many of the previous barriers to entry are crumbling. For individuals without the means to access higher learning institutions, or even for those who simply want to expand their knowledge, free online education now offers a path to success that was unavailable to previous generations.

Author’s Bio: This guest post was written by Nate Ryerson, a staff writer at ExploreMedicalCareers.com and eDentalAssistant.com. Nate is passionate about education, education, and science.

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