Loss prevention professionals seem to be an eager group for continuing education. There are some great certifications in our industry, and I would encourage everyone to explore those. Additionally, a formal education can be a great foundation for a loss prevention career. These are great investments, but they do carry a financial price. Trust me; I’ve got the student loans to back it up. Don’t get me wrong, the investment is worth it, but what if someone isn’t quite ready to make a financial commitment that large?
What if I told you that you could take classes at Harvard, MIT, and Cal Berkley over the internet for free? I’m not talking about watching lecture videos on YouTube; I’m talking about real-life participation and grading in order to complete a course. Lecture videos have been posted on iTunes for a few years, but that’s not really participating in the course. Now you can.
Enter EdX.org: EdX is a project sponsored by Harvard and MIT. EdX seeks to provide university-level education to anyone that wants it, regardless of their location or financial status. Many of these courses are the exact same courses that are offered to on-campus students. Simply sign-up for an account and begin participating. You can complete a course in three ways:
Audit the Course: This is similar to watching lecture videos. There will be no interaction with the instructor or the class. I would recommend this choice for evaluating whether you would like to participate the next time the course is offered, not necessarily as a learning tool. I strongly recommend that you participate in a class that interests you.
Certificate: This is a no-cost way to take a course. You’ll participate like a regular student. And just like a regular student, you can fail the class. If you’re really serious about learning, give this class your full attention. Just because you’re not paying for it, doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable. Once you’ve successfully completed the class, you’ll have a legitimate education in that subject. Go ahead. Put it on your resume.
Verified Certificate: This certificate carries a bit more credibility than the other., but also has a small fee of $100. Some classes encourage you to select the verified certificate. Honestly, it’s still a bargain. If you can afford it, I recommend spending the $100. If not, you’ll still be able to participate for free.
Once you’ve decided how you’ll participate in the courses, you’ll need to select which courses you are most interested in. It’s really mind-blowing how much knowledge is being offered for free. It’s like an education shopping mall where everything is free. I’ll share some feedback on a couple of courses I’ve taken on Edx.
Immunity to Change: This course offers far more than meets the eye. We’ve all been involved in “change” seminars or classes, but I assure you that this one is very different. The focus is on personal improvement changes that you may be struggling to make. Each week has a revelation where you begin to feel like you’ve got the course figured out, but the next week adds a new twist. It’s actually a fun course to participate in.
The Analytics Edge: This course focuses on statistical analysis, and is very much like it sounds. The course takes a very detailed approach and is very technical. The coursework requires the use of statistical analysis software, which is also free. The learning in this course doesn’t come as easily as Immunity to Change, but it’s just as worthwhile.
I really enjoyed these courses and I learned a great deal. For all of this, I paid nothing. EdX has removed all barriers to continuing education. New courses are always starting, so you can literally begin learning today. Perhaps, in the future, we can support loss prevention classes through this medium. In the meantime, there is plenty of great content for loss prevention professionals.