When the pandemic broke out in 2020 and online classes became the norm everywhere, Shafi Vikraman from Thiruvananthapuram discovered the possibility of learning from anywhere in the world. He says he pursued over 145 free online courses offered by different global educational institutions, including Ivy League universities.
Taking the situation as an opportunity, he enrolled in platforms like Coursera and World Health Organisation, which offered free online courses in a wide range of subjects. “This is a great opportunity for anyone who is looking for certifications from prestigious universities across the globe. I could learn different subjects, and explore different universities and colleges just by sitting at home, and for free,” Shafi tells The Better India.
“I was always interested in learning new subjects. So, getting an opportunity to study and earn certifications from international universities was like a dream for me. It kept me engaged throughout the lockdown period,” says the commerce graduate.
His daughter, a third year hotel management student, joined her father’s journey and completed over 50 courses online. “My daughter mostly enrolled in courses related to her field, hotel management. In the beginning, I too preferred exploring courses related to marketing which aligned with my job, but I eventually ended up doing a lot of medical courses,” Shafi adds with a smile.
He joined free courses offered by global universities like Princeton, Yale, Wharton, and Columbia, and says he earned over 130 online certifications so far. He had to set a timetable to attend the courses, which ranged from two days to two months. “I started with a course offered by Stanford University. It was a bit tough in the beginning, but gradually I got the hang of it. Eventually, I started attending over 15 courses simultaneously and was managing everything by keeping track of their timings. Currently, I am attending around 20 courses,” says Shafi, who is in his mid-fifties.
Other institutes from which he earned certifications include the University of Edinburgh, Manchester University, Imperial College London, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and ESCP Business School of France.
Shafi, a deputy general manager of a foreign exchange firm, quit his job to focus on his studies. He explains, “The change in time zones was a challenge. I had enrolled for courses from different countries like the UK, US, France, Germany and so on. So, sometimes, I had to sacrifice my sleep and study through the night. It was a bit difficult to manage work when I barely slept for 2-3 hours.”
He learnt a wide range of subjects including finance, cryptocurrency, blockchain, entrepreneurship, robotics, artificial intelligence, psychology, travel and tourism, food and nutrition, medicine and earned certifications from 16 countries.
“There are a lot of courses offered by WHO on a range of subjects related to health and medicine. People are not too aware about it but they are comparatively easier. When it comes to premier institutions like Ivy league universities, it’s a bit tough but if you put in the effort to attend all the classes and take notes religiously you can easily crack them. There will be an exam at the end of each course, with a certain cut off percentage,” adds Shafi.
Shafi, who is currently pursuing over 22 courses, says that he would continue this journey as far as he can. “It doesn’t cost you anything. But it would definitely benefit you in widening your knowledge on any subject of your choice,” he opines.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)