Today is the day that a new online tool becomes available to grad students in Ontario. It’s a set of free self-paced professional development “courses” collected under the banner of MyGradSkills.ca. Queen’s, in fact, has been instrumental in developing some of them. See MyGradSkills.ca or the Queen’s launch site for a full listing of available modules, but to give you an idea, they range from teaching, to intellectual property (IP), entrepreneurship, intercultural competence, mental health and well being, and exploring alt/para/post-ac career paths for PhDs.
I decided to try out a course–the latter one, “The Versatile PhD”–in order to be able to write about the site in a little more detail.
The Versatile PhD course consisted of four modules each with several subsections. There were short videos (which wouldn’t play for me in Firefox, so I read the captioning) of students, graduates, and administrators responding to questions about their reasons for choosing a PhD and their post-grad career paths, short audio clips explaining certain learning taxonomies and job-searching processes, diagrams, charts, text, and “quizzes.” The quizzes aren’t graded, but they’re meant to allow you to interact with the course and yield some tangible products that you could reflect on or take to information interviews, career counseling services to guide your conversation.
The course itself probably took around an hour for me to go through except that it prompted me to investigate and follow up on other activities that I would devote a little time to before returning to the course. These were things like the “quiz” question that instructed students to Google their own name and make a note about their online footprint. In doing this I came across a mention of a review article of mine that I needed to follow up with a journal about. In going through the section about networking, I was reminded to get in touch with a colleague whose work I had used in a recent article and send him a copy of the finished product. I also started revising my LinkedIn profile.
A couple of the links didn’t work quite as described, but I still learned about a couple of resources I’ve been wishing existed for ages. For example, did you know there’s a database of professional associations at the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials? or a listing of job titles on the Government of Canada’s National Occupation Classification site? MyGradSkills.ca also features a prominent call for suggestions and other feedback, so we early adopters can be of service in pointing out little glitches and letting the GPS know what works well.
Try a course or two and let us know what “soft skills” MyGradSkills.ca has enabled you to build. Are there other online training opportunities that you’ve found useful? Share in our comments section.