How to tap into connected communication to super-charge your career

How you can tap into connected communication to super-charge your career
Connection is the new gold

Everyone’s heard about social technologies, but do you know they’re one of the most powerful tools for professional development.

To harness them you need only two things:

– Access to the internet.
– The desire to learn.

Connected networks allow unprecedented collaboration and are creating a giant global brain that is powering us forward. Tapping into this global brain is so routine, for example when we type a question into Google, that we don’t stop to think about the enormous complexity of the algorithms that bring us answers or the billions of humans who create and link web pages together to provide that information.

Of course, the principle of pooling resources, including intellectual ones, to improve the outcomes for the tribe is as old as human history. But in the past, access to learning was often limited by privilege. The Internet opens things up.

Now anyone can learn practically anything online for free. And we’re talking about from prestigious universities around the world. This of course makes ‘access’ the new gold.

Here are some of them:


A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) can be accessed online and provides a combination of traditional and interactive course materials.

MOOCs are widely accepted as legitimate training by employers. Employees are posting the accreditations they receive from these courses on their LinkedIn profiles or showing certificates at job interviews, and employers regard them highly.

Some popular ones include:

  1. Coursera – a free online platform that features over 200 courses from 33 universities like Stanford.
  2. Aquent Gymnasium – free online training courses designed specifically to bridge the digital skills gap for professionals. So far, over 23,000 people have enrolled in the first three courses – Coding for Designers; Responsive Web Design; jQuery Building Blocks, and there are plenty of courses coming up on topics like UX fundamentals, information design, content, and JavaScript foundations.
  3. Udacity – Udacity offers accessible, affordable, interactive online courses with a focus on careers in technology. Courses are developed with leaders in the tech industry to bridge the gap between academia and the needs of the 21st century workforce. Anything from Introduction to Computer Science to Data Wrangling with MongoDB.
  4. Iversity – courses are delivered by professors and are mainly conducted in English or German, but also Russian and Italian. Courses include, but are not limited to DNA, Dark Matter, Medicine, Storytelling, Internet Privacy, Web Engineering, Architecture, Math, Statistics, Algorithms, Finance, Political Philosophy, Social Entrepreneurship, Business, Marketing, and Agricultural Science.
  5. edX – the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and 29 other schools offer university-level courses in a wide range of disciplines to a worldwide audience at no charge. EdX has nearly 1.6 million users.

There are many others like Canvas Network, Open Learning, Academic Earth, Future Learn, Peer to Peer University,, Udemy, MOOEC, World Education Portals, and First Business MOOC.

Companies are also creating MOOCs that give them a competitive edge.

For example, talent who complete Aquent Gymnasium‘s digital training courses are asked whether they would like to be represented for employment opportunities if they achieve a high result in their assessments. It’s a win-win for both talent and employers.

Khan Academy 

Khan Academy is an educational website providing free education with a focus on science and maths.

Salmat Khan, a Wall Street billionaire, used to tutor his cousins in maths and science. One day he couldn’t make it so decided to video the tutorial instead. What he learned, he would later joke, is that they preferred him on video than in person. Not only did they learn what they needed to learn but also they were able to share that video with friends who also needed the additional output. And in one of the happiest accidents of modern times, Khan Academy was born.

What I love about Khan Academy is the principle-based approach. Learning is self-paced and students are able to repeat a class as often as it takes to learn the principles. It’s also possible to generate different exercises so that you can approach the topic from a number of angles.

Why is this so important?

We live in a world where intelligence is equated with fast learning, rightly or wrongly. Our education systems privilege those who learn fast. Students who struggle learn slowly or struggle with a certain concept can be disadvantaged.

The problem with subjects like maths is that one principle builds on the other. You’re not going to understand calculus if you failed multiples.

There’s no blame around this, teachers are under huge pressure to move through courses at a pace that suits the majority of the students. But having access to additional materials that you can access anytime and complete at your own pace can help close any gaps.

Some poor rural states in India, which cannot afford teachers and textbooks, have partnered with Khan Academy so that the educational material matches the schools’ syllabi. Attendance rates soared at schools once the video material became available.

But the affluent and poor are using Khan Academy alike in blended learning arrangements or for professional development.

Open Culture

Open Culture brings together high quality cultural and educational content that includes free audio books, free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, free eBooks, and other enriching content including:

Connection is a competitive advantage

Although online learning academies were established to equal the playing field, they have become an important professional development tool.

Research conducted by Penn’s Graduate School of Education show that some 80% of MOOC users around the world already have an advanced degree, with up to 80% of students coming from the richest 6% of the population.

This means the skilled are becoming more skilled.

It’s still early days in online learning and like all innovations we are likely to learn by getting things wrong and getting things right and making continual iterations.

However, the Penn research reinforces that the access you have to computers and the internet is a critical competitive advantage and it’s up to you to make the most of it.

More reading: 

How to learn your way into a new job
How becoming an expert can boost your career
What all creatives can learn from the most creative people of all

If you’re interested in up-skilling yourself with free, online Digital courses, check out Aquent Gymnasium, designed specifically by our partner Aquent to bridge the digital skills gap.


Award-winning Australian recruitment agency, Firebrand Talent, ignites the careers of digital, marketing, creative, communications, advertising, & media talent. If you are looking for your next career move, check out the jobs we currently have on in Sydney & Melbourne.

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