I’m a big fan of education in all its glorious forms: traditional classroom learning, online education, and on-the-job-training. Having completed graduate school in 2008, I needed a new set of educational goals. More specifically, I wanted to learn a web programming language.
For the past three weeks, I have been taking a non-credit Ed2Go course entitled Introduction to PHP and MySQL offered through the University of Maryland Baltimore County Training Centers. Ed2Go provides six week long online courses that cost between $95 – $120. I must say, that I am thoroughly impressed with the presentation of the material and the quality of the instruction. I am especially impressed with the knowledge and responsiveness of the course instructor. Ed2Go classes have flexibility build into assignment deadlines to accommodate working adults. Lastly, the intuitive e-learning platform means that you don’t have to “learn the platform”, instead you simply learn PHP.
Why did I sign up for an Ed2Go class?
I briefly considered enrolling in another Masters program (which I still may do in the future), however I couldn’t bear the thought of having to amass another pile of student loans obtaining a second graduate degree. So, I asked myself what do I really want to get out of going back to school?. The answer was simple: I want to learn about web programming. This is different than desiring to earn a degree in a subject, or wanting to do firsthand research in an academic environment, or all the other responses my heart could have given.
I had failed in the past at completing self-paced enrichment courses because they lacked deadlines, structure, and were low stakes – meaning I wouldn’t waste tuition money or receive a failing grade for not finishing them. For me, options like MIT’s Opencourseware, although amazing in many ways, aren’t practical.
I have always had a healthy interest in software programming and application testing and despite not having much formal academic training, I have a “better than expected” knowledge of the methodologies of both. As an undergraduate, I took a C programming course that provided me with an introduction to the data structures and program flow controls common in every programming language. Soon afterwards, I began developing simple, yet effective procedural programs using Autoit 3.0 to streamline my tasks as an application integration tester.
Ed2Go and Career Changes
Ed2Go classes are great for professionals seeking to acquire new skills to help advance their careers or for lifetime learners desiring personal enrichment. Although, they won’t help you transition into a new career like a certificate or degree program can, Ed2Go courses can certainly give you the opportunity to test the waters of a career change before spending thousands of dollars on tuition.
I’m still working my way through Introduction to PHP and MySQL but so far, so good. I’m even considering signing up for Intermediate PHP and MySQL which starts in a few short weeks.