* Or, more likely, a better innovator

As you’re developing your digital product, how useful would it be to upskill your programming if you don’t know it already?

As your business grows, reaching beyond its current confines, how likely are you to be dealing with collaborators who speak another language?

At what point will you need to understand how funding rounds and investing work?

Maybe you just love learning for its own sake. But you’re also aware that being well-rounded, knowing something about math and science, could instill confidence in business partners. Couldn’t hurt, right?

People who work at tekMountain, and those who partner with tekMountain, probably fall into one or all these categories. So we think it’s worthwhile to consider the enormous range of educational apps that can help you learn — maybe even master — some new skill that will make you stand out from the crowd.

And why not?

  • The cost of entry is typically very low.
  • Apps lower the mental barriers that returning to school can present … the public nature of traditional schools and real-time short courses … the imposed scheduling … the grading … the sometimes distracting, forced socializing.
  • Apps offer unequalled mobility and portability and, depending on the particular app, can be entirely self-paced.
  • Apps may be free, have a one-time cost, or be subscription based. Many of the free apps tend to focus on the most basic skills. For more advanced, more challenging learning, consider one of the paid offerings.

The simplest online search will raise countless “Best of” lists for educational apps. The variety is boggling. But not all apps are created equal. So if the cost-benefit analysis you’ve done in your head favors ‘Yes’ — or if you’re just craving to learn something new — we’ll explore a cross-section of educational apps in three blog installments, apps that we think make sense for learners in tech, business, or who are simply sold on the art of being a well-rounded, interesting person.

The age of MOOCs

Massive Open Online Courses took the world by storm a few years ago. If you believed the hype back in 2012, you would have expected that MOOC degrees would be just as accepted as those from brick-n-mortar university degrees. Most MOOCs were free early on, and the truth is that completion rates among enrolled students were abysmal — about 5.5 percent — particularly for free courses. While free MOOCs are still abundant, paid courses have proliferated in number and increased in rigor and institutional regard.

But MOOCs are a great option for people who wish to learn something new, whether for personal fulfillment, to achieve professional goals, or prepping for college. The low cost of entry and increasingly ubiquitous access to the internet helped make MOOCs popular.

Coursera

What qualifies Coursera as part of the “second wave of MOOC hype,” is that it offers university-recognized online degree programs in business, computer science, and data science. Today, Coursera is among many MOOC vendors who are championing traditional credentials and universities (which helped create Coursera’s content in the first place). Courses include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. When you complete a course, you’ll receive a sharable electronic Course Certificate. Specializations — series of related coursework — lead to Specialization Certifices. Prices range from about $29 to $99.

edX

edX is an online learning platform and MOOC provider founded (and still governed) by Harvard University and MIT in 2012 — which the New York Times called “the year of the MOOC,” despite the term being largely unknown just months before.Course offerings range widely, from computer science, languages, and engineering to psychology, writing, electronics, biology, and marketing. edX is the only leading MOOC provider that is both nonprofit and open source. With Open edX , educators and technologists can build learning tools and contribute new features to the platform, creating innovative solutions to benefit students everywhere. “Pathways” offered can lead to professional certificates and online masters degrees. The XSeries Programs offer courses to develop deep knowledge in a range of interesting and popular subjects such as government, future cities, anatomy, and a number of computer-science courses.

Lynda

Offering hundreds of courses in software development, design, business, web development, and photography, Lynda.com (now part of LinkedIn) provides several prescribed “learning paths” that tie together various courses in curriculas leading to specific careers. These paths include digital marketing, front-end web development, security, graphic design, music production, and more. Individual, corporate, academic and government subscriptions include access to an enormous video library of courses taught by industry experts and tutorials in five languages. Newcomes can try Lynda courses free for a month. After the trial period, subscriptions start at $29.99 per month with a 17 percent discount for annual subscriptions.

Udacity

Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun founded Udacity, along with Peter Norvig, director of research at Google, after they lit the MOOC “powder keg” in 2011. That’s when their course in artificial intelligence attracted some 160,000 students in 190 countries — a mere 95 percent of all countries on the globe.

Don’t stop learning

Advancing in any tech ecosystem demands that you work at the top of your game. Every competitor will be working at the top of theirs. That’s certainly true of us at tekMountain. Don’t put off your future.

 

This blog was produced by the tekMountain Team of Sean AhlumAmanda SipesKelly Brown,Elyssa Miller and Zach Cioffi with lead writer Bill DiNome.

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