Keeping your skills up to date is difficult when you’re unemployed.  One way to learn new skills and keep up with your field is by taking classes.
I hear you now: Even if I  have the time to take classes, who has the money to invest?
That’s where MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) come in.  There are a growing number of education platforms that offer no-cost and low-cost classes in just about every topic you can think of.  Here are a few of them that I’ve investigated, including one where I’ve taken a class.
1.  NovoEd. Coming out of Stanford University, it offers courses focused entirely on business and entrepreneurship, ranging in price from free to $999 (course page).  I suggested to a client that she check out the Mini-MBA course, as she’s wondered if she should go ahead and get an MBA.  This is a great low risk way to see how useful it might be to her.
2.  Coursera.  A non-profit also out of Stanford and with many university partners, it offers a wide range of classes, like college, offered free and for fee if you want a certificate of completion. I took a class on leadership and emotional intelligence that was excellent – challenging, interesting with an easy-to-use platform.  Coursera also offers “specializations” now, sort of like doing a major.  See this page for an example.
3. Udemy:  For-profit that offers a range of courses with a range of costs from free to $500. This page has leadership courses.  If you like Jack Welch, lots of courses offer his perspective on management. There are also courses for people who want to start businesses, learn technology or design, and many other topics.  It’s a combo of college courses and courses taught by experts.
4. EdX:  A non-profit started by a consortium of international universities including MIT, Harvard, CalTech and University of Queensland, this is like college.  It offers a range of courses, most offered for free with option to pay at least $100 to get a certificate of completion. (I’ve signed up for two starting this spring.)
If you want to get a certificate of completion, you will have to devote real time and effort to the class.  There is homework, class discussion and grading.  So take it seriously.  If you do, you’ll have a great experience and learn a lot.  With the certificate of completion, you can put the course on your LinkedIn profile, and add the MOOC platform to your education.
There are other resources for people wanting to learn but perhaps not get a certificate of completion.  Here are a few of those.
 a.  Skillshare, which has a bunch of courses for very low cost including this one by marketing expert Seth Godin.
b.  Udacity offers  courses focused on the most relevant and cutting-edge skills needed to advance people’s tech career.  Courses are free unless you want a verified certificate, in which case you pay$150 per month.  Courses vary in length.
c. General Assembly courses, workshops, classes are offered both in person and online with a focus  on digital business tools and management.  Prices range from free to several hundred dollars.
Many other platforms exist to teach languages, offer coaching and tutoring.  Most of them cost money. I have focused on the platforms where you can get good content with your limited resources.
What’s been your experience with these? I’d love to hear about it!