Free Online courses?

We are slowly entering a technological era where companies have started to move away from traditional thinking and approaches. There have been a few articles in recent times where it was reported that some companies have started to move away from university degrees when recruiting. They have started to value experience over degree.

I tend to agree with this approach to certain extent. I still value institutional degrees and therefore don’t want to throw it away with the bath water. I believe college/university education teaches you the tools to be successful in the world. It is then your responsibility to use that tool and be successful in life.

I however am a strong believer of continuous improvement. I also believe that education and knowledge should be free. Everyone should have a fundamental right to get an education or have free access to knowledge or information. As such, I love the sites such as https://alison.com, https://www.cybrary.it etc. sites where you can take online courses and get a certification (if you want).

If you want to get ahead in your career and want to prepare yourself for the change in future workplace, you need to arm yourself with necessary skill set. There are so much free material now available online that you do not need to pay any institution any fee any more to get trained. Making so many courses freely available on these sites has been a great win for consumers/public, in my opinion.

So how does the courses work?

Based on my personal experience, you register on the website free of charge. Then you enrol in the courses and finish the course. The course may be text-based where you need to read the information or may contain video tutorials that you have to watch. At the completion of the course, there will be an assessment module. This is equivalent to a test. If you pass the assessment, you will have successfully completed the course and it will be listed under your account. If you are willing to pay some money, you can also get a certificate. Certificate can be digitally signed, a paper based certificate or a framed certificate. It depends on how much money you want to spend.

So what courses should you pick?

To answer this, you need to look at current industry trend.

In my opinion, we are witnessing growth in three areas of technology.

1. Automation – There is a tremendous push to increase automation coverage in every company. I have been told by Tricentis (vendor for TOSCA automation tool) that currently the automation market is HOT and there is a very high demand for automation testers. So learning automation and how to automate online/middleware applications will very much help your career as a Test Manager/Test Lead.

2. Data Analytics – This is now becoming quite popular. All companies (small and large, private and public) have started to recognize the importance of data analytics. Companies like Google, Facebook already target you with customized ads, using your search history. Netflix recommends TV series and movies, based on your viewing preference. Using a vast array of existing data and then extracting marketing information from this will be a very important area of interest in near future. High-frequency trading (HFT) is already using complex algorithms to analyse multiple markets and execute orders based on market conditions.

3. Security – Network security and cyber security are becoming big areas of technology. Companies have started to move from expensive workplace model to outcome based vendor driven delivery model. Under this model, you have key personnel to lead your projects but the bulk of the work is done by the external vendor. Under the same model, companies have also started to migrate their legacy and new applications to the cloud. Now think like a CEO or CIO. If you have a workforce and you have pressure to cut cost, what would you do? You would look at reducing the workforce where possible and replacing them with a vendor driven delivery model.

Yes, this is disruptive.

Yes, you will no longer enjoy the benefit of having a permanent and secure job.

All TRUE!

But there is very little you can do under these changing conditions. All you can do is ARM yourself with the skills set that will make you valuable to the organization.

I was not planning on writing such a big article for now, but that is just the nature of this topic.

I know that this topic is very close to some of my friends and family who have been made redundant. And that is why I think so highly of these websites that offer free online courses. At least this offers you a ray of hope where you can now build new skill set at no additional cost and in areas of future growth.

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