Holding a full time job and taking a course in a regular institution of learning in a bid to improve your PR skills can be a grueling endeavour. The stress in the job itself is far above average. PR has been in the top ten most stressful jobs in the world for several years running as reported by When you think of the stress of school work and that of commuting to school and work, as well as those emanating  from other personal commitments, it is easy to believe that you don’t have a choice but to remain as you are.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be so if you can embrace MOOCs. They are helping busy executives and professionals fill the gaps in their knowledge and skills without much stress. With just a computer and an internet connection, you can study in the comfort of your office or home and pick up the same level of knowledge and skills you’ll get in world class universities like Harvard or Stanford at little or no cost.  What’s more? The courses are taught by professors from such universities and tested professionals in their respective field. There is something to gain with MOOCs.

What are MOOCs?

MOOCS stands for Massive Open Online Courses. They make higher education accessible to all everywhere in the world as long as there’s internet connectivity. They are different from other forms of distance education such as Open Course Ware and Online University Classes in some respect.

Open Course Wares are just publications of an institution’s course materials on the internet for anyone to download and study.  No form of interaction between the student and others is available. The online university class is basically the internet’s version of a regular university class. A student must have the necessary requirements for enrolment into the university, pay the tuition, receive grades just like those attending the class physically. Most MOOCs are free; small fees are only paid if you want a verified certificate of completion of the course you’ve taken. There are no admission requirements to meet. Most times, grading is computer generated. Their structures are such that allow students to study at their own time, and sometimes, at their own pace. Students are only expected to agree with the terms of the platforms from where they are studying and pay any fee if required.

Qualities of a Good MOOC

A good MOOC will give you most of the experiences you’ll get in regular classes. Although the classes are online, most of the professors and teachers who organize these courses make it very interactive given the possibilities that multi-media technology, computer and the internet can bring.

Good MOOCs use video lectures which are broken down into bite-size chunks for easy assimilation. They also offer eBooks and other written materials and they have rooms for small-scale project works and course specific forums to get your questions answered by the course community or a moderator. There are tests to show how much you have assimilated, and a final examination to demonstrate your grasp of the course.

A Short History Of MOOCs

MOOCs have their root in what used to be known as correspondence study, where postal agencies were used to deliver study materials to far away locations for home study. Scholars have traced the origin of MOOCs to 2008 when Stephen Downes and George Siemens of the University of Manitoba used online tools to offer a course in Connectivity and Connectivity Knowledge to about 2,300 people around the world.

And in 2011, Peter Norvic and Sebastien Thrun of Stanford University developed and offered a course, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. In 2012 Thrun founded Udacity and began to offer MOOCs for free. It wasn’t long before some top universities joined the fray either by establishing their platforms or partnering with existing ones.

Today, there are so many MOOC platforms offering short courses including professional ones, mini-masters degree courses, used to complete Masters Degrees in recognized universities, and even Masters Degrees.

MOOC Platforms

Here are some of the MOOC platforms you can take advantage of to improve your PR skills or obtain general knowledge in order to sharpen your competence, competency and capability in your work:

  • Udacity                                                   
  • Cognitive class                                       
  • edx                                                         
  • Lagunita Stanford Online
  • Coursera                                                 
  • Saylor Academy
  • Future learn                                           
  • Open Course World
  • Iversity                                                    
  • Hootsuite Academy
  • Udemy                                                  
  • Hubspot Academy

My Picks For You

All MOOCs are not created equal. Some are not PR-friendly in their offerings. Others have many general knowledge courses you can use to expand your intellectual horizon. But there is a few that offer very good courses in Public Relations and related disciplines. Here are five of them:

1.       Coursera

This platform offers a range Public Relations, Communication and Content Marketing courses, partnering with renowned universities around the world.

2.       edx

Here, you’ll find courses in Intercultural Communication, Communication in a Global Context, Marketing and Management courses you need to keep yourself fresh with current ideas in the fields.

3.       Iversity

Iversity offers courses such as Visual thinking in Business, Presentation Skills for Business, Digital Marketing: Critical factors, Design Thinking and other courses you’ll find refreshing and relevant to the modern world of PR.

4.       Hootsuite Academy

If you want to keep up with your skills in social media, this is the platform to go to. They also offer certifications to help demonstrate your competence.

5.       Hubspot Academy

This platform offers free courses in Social Media, Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing. Every PR professional needs these courses to remain on top of the game.

There’s no need worrying about how to get fresh ideas and skills to remain relevant in your job. Try MOOCs, and you’ll be glad you did.