5 Ways to Evaluate MOOCs on a Resume

by Evil HR Lady on March 27, 2015

Guillaume Dumas, a 28-year-old Canadian, made headlines recently when he announced that he had obtained an Ivy League education for free by sneaking in to classes at prestigious universities. His story — coupled with the skyrocketing costs of a college education — raised serious doubts about the value of a diploma. With tuition costs rising and more than a trillion dollars of student debt in America, alternate routes to achieving a top-tier education are increasingly attractive. The big question for HR: Should we start worrying less about an applicant’s degree and more about the knowledge an applicant brings to the company?

While a Dumas-style education is still an anomaly, hiring managers are likely to encounter candidates who have taken Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). According to Class Central, more than 2400 of these online lectures currently exist from more than 400 universities—including 22 of U.S. News & World Report’s Top 25 Universities.

The topics and structures of these courses vary widely. Students can sign up online to learn about anything from Roman Architecture to Web Application Architecture. Some MOOCs are free, some come at a cost. And some simply involve listening to lectures—with no way to verify that the student learned anything—while others provide assignments, tests and a certification for passing the course.

Here, 5 things to consider when a MOOC shows up on a resume:

To keep reading, click here: 5 Ways to Evaluate MOOCs on a Resume

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Rabbit March 27, 2015 at 4:22 pm

I question the value of these as anything more than a curiosity, especially if someone tries to pass it off as credentials. I know someone who has a PhD from a well-known institution, but it’s well known as a university that if you pay them boatloads of money they will give a high grade with little to no work. This particular PhD did not go through the rigorous vetting process that we “what’s up doc” doctors go through and can’t compose three grammatically correct sentences in a row. I know someone else who went to this same institution for a Master’s degree and had a similar experience. Googling the school shows others who have had similar experiences. Now when I see this school on a resume I discount it as a MOOC, something that the person may have been interested in, but certainly not a formal education.

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Jill March 27, 2015 at 5:36 pm

I’m only in my 30’s so I was part of the generation where this push for college-college-college started. It just disgusts me the number of employers that see a “DEGREE” as the only relevant factor. I’ve known a handful of people in their 50’s and 60’s who were laid off and looking for work and, despite decades of experience in their industries couldn’t get a foot in the door because they didn’t have a Degree.

The only reason I’m now working on my Master’s is because I fear what the landscape will be 20 years from now when I’m in my 50’s and looking for a job. Will we Gen-Xer’s and Millenials be told “Oh. You *only* have a Bachelor’s? Sorry. Not interested.”

I wish employers looked at the whole picture and not just the Degree factor!

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Evil HR Lady March 27, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I agree! I’ve been working on an article about a university and in so doing I’ve been talking with my friends from grad school. I started grad school in 1997. It is, of course, on my resume. It boggles my mind that what I did 18 years ago is still relevant in my career today.

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Roger Rabbit March 27, 2015 at 6:19 pm

I still get asked for my GPA from my first undergraduate degree, almost 30 years ago. This is then verified by official transcript requests and I have had recruiters ask me to take them through my history of transcripts as recent as two years ago. I don’t think that my GPA is relevant, but having the base knowledge is relevant.

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Slippy March 30, 2015 at 3:54 pm

On the other end of the spectrum I have an IT degree from a reasonably accomplished Engineering school that required hands-on learning. Most of my interviews have focused on whether I have x years experience in one thing or another or y certification. I feel like my degree is treated as a box to be checked that is only important if they want to filter people a little more.

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