Self learning through online education is a popular trend among learners today. Anyone can learn with a computer or mobile phone and internet connection. From social media learning on Twitter, LinkedIn etc to structured online learning platforms; you are learning at you own pace.
In the past, distance/online learning was a complicated alternative to tradition classroom learning. There have remained controversies to whether taking online learning courses is worth the time and effort. Sloan Survey of online learning reveals that enrolment rose by almost one million students from previous year in 2010. Further research also shows that the number of students adding online learning courses as part of their regular college curriculum has increased by up to 150%. Online education also has a 21% growth rate which exceeds the 2% growth in overall education.
In the field of study with the most number of student enrollment in online learning, computer and information science and technology has the most number of enrollment (27%), followed by business (24%) and General studies (24%), with courses in humanities and Natural Sciences, Mathematics + Agriculture having the lowest rate of enrollment at 14% each. This appears understandable as the courses with the highest number of enrolment (computer/information technology) aligns favorably with the method of online learning compared to other courses, which are better learnt on practical experience.
Why you should consider taking Online learning courses
From the figures above, you would have figured that online learning would be more suitable for one student than another, considering their fields of study and in some cases personality. However, if we consider the constant innovation in technology, there are skills you can’t do without, regardless of your field of study and personality. The good news is that most of such course/skills can be learnt through online learning. Computer and internet skills can be acquired through online learning through self-taught or structured elearning. Basic Business skills can be learned online.
Rather than wait until you get the chance to learn the skills you want in a traditional learning environment, enrolling for online courses will get you up to speed while also focusing on your core area of study.
Change of career
One the biggest advantage of taking online learning courses is that it offers easy gateway to making a career change. For instance if you are a real estate agent and want to change career to web developer or customer representative, taking short online learning courses in these field will help you decide the better career choice for you. You’ll also network with people with similar interest already in the field to learn with/from.
Starting a business
The first step with starting a business is practically studying the industry you want to get into. The step before the first step is figuring whether the business is a good fit for you. Most businesses have a basic online course for beginners. These online courses will help you quickly understand the basics of the business and how to go about getting local information about the industry.
Figuring out the right vendor
The major problem with the online learning industry is differentiating valuable programmes from mere noise. While there are awesome online learning courses out there, there are online learning vendors that are not worth your time and effort.
Here are a few tips to help you:
If you are taking an online course for the certification (like you intend to get a job with your qualification and not just for the skill and knowledge) as prove to potential employers that you are actually qualified in the field, you should consider an accredited online university/college.
If you are concerned about getting the skill and knowledge for practical purpose, then accreditation would not be your primary concern. Accredited online schools are generally much more expensive and not easily affordable for low-income earners or students. However there are non-accredited online programmes, like Udemy with affordable (even free) quality courses to learn from.
When next you are thinking of how to learn a new skill or to venture into a new career or business, you should consider taking an online learning course.