12 Benefits of Learning Online
Leveraging your Expertise – Part 3
In this blog post, I'm building on the previous two in the series. All about online courses, the first entitled: “Is your business model costing you money?” was all about the challenge of leveraging your expertise. The second, “Reasons to teach an online course“, covered the different types of training you can deliver and the three main financial benefits. In this article, I'm going to look at the benefits of learning online from the students' perspective.
1. Choice of subjects, levels and trainers
There is a huge variety of subjects taught at different levels, from beginner through topostgraduate level. You can choose a topic which is not available in your particular location as you have access to trainers from all over the world. Choose from a professional work-related topic through to a hobby or personal interest. Maybe you want to learn a new language or how to remodel your back garden. Perhaps you're interested in career development or gaining new skills to enable you to change career.
With an online course you can study when you have time – any time of day or night. Fit your learning around your work and your family. You can snatch a few minutes here and there between your other responsibilities. There's no need to devote a fixed amount of time to your study although it will pay off if you do schedule it into your working week and stick to a routine. You have complete flexibility when it comes to your study schedule.
Most online courses are accessed via a login to a website. You will have your own username and password which gives you access to the training programme. The modules and lessons are usually delivered by video, audio and worksheets, which can be viewed on a mobile, tablet or desktop. If you have internet access then you can be studying anywhere. Many courses allow you to download the resources so that they can be accessed when you are not online. Study in the comfort of your own home, a local cafe or even outside in the park.
You can gain extra qualifications to support your career development and these can be very beneficial when you go for a promotion. If you work for yourself then an online course will allow you to diversify your offering into new areas. For example, if you are a web developer and take a course in search engine optimisation you will be able to offer your clients and new, ongoing service related to their website and charge a monthly recurring fee. Gaining new skills will allow you to change career. So if you want to move into a different field online learning could be the answer to your prayers.
5. Accredited courses and transfer credits
If your chosen course is accredited, you may be able to transfer your credits to another course of a higher level or build credits into a diploma or degree. Check carefully when you are researching courses that the accreditation is up-to-date and with a reputable trade body or supervisory organisation. It may be worthwhile checking with the accrediting organisation before you register with the course provider.
The delivery of the content needs to match your learning style. Choosing a course with both video, audio and written materials will most likely suit the majority of students. A course which requires mainly reading will suit visual learners. Equally if you fall asleep listening to an audio then chose a video based course.
Some online courses offer a community, such as a Facebook group or a forum, where students can communicate with one another as well as the tutor. If you have a burning question you may find that one of the other members of the community is able to answer it. Questions from other members may also deepen your knowledge of a particular area. A good course creator will participate in the community on a regular basis and for large groups, there may well also be a community manager who monitors the questions and directs the members to additional resources
8. Ongoing support
As well as having a forum or Facebook group, a good course will have support usually in the form of email to answer problems and to clarify any sections of the course which are unclear. This is very different from single day's training when once it's finished it's unlikely that the trainer will be available to answer questions.
Having access to the expert is one of the main reasons online courses are so popular. Some premium offerings have what are called ‘office hours' where you can log into a online call via Zoom or Skype and pose your questions. I've found these sessions to be extremely useful particularly when someone else has an Incisive question you haven't even thought of.
The cost of online learning is usually lower than face-to-face classes. This is due to the fact that there is no need for room hire, travel costs and live training. As the lessons have been pre-recorded there is just the cost of hosting the resources on the website. This doesn't mean that inexpensive courses are the best option. Check out the testimonials to assess which ones meet your specific requirements.
Although there are some statistics so show that very few online courses are completed by students, I have found that purchasing an online course means that I have to set aside an appropriate amount of time to study each week. This teaches you to be disciplined. Putting an hour in the diary once or twice a week is usually sufficient to complete the learning. If you have invested a great deal of money in an online course then you owe it to yourself to complete it.
11. Learn at your own pace
Many courses give you lifetime access. So whilst it's important to be disciplined, it's also important that you do not over-stretch yourself and allow plenty of time to cover the content in depth rather than rushing through for the sake of completion. Because you have 24/7 access to all the resources you can go over the content multiple times ensuring you have understood the content
12. Bite-sized chunks
Although a course may already be divided into different modules and lessons there is no reason why you have to undertake a whole lesson or module in one sitting. If you are studying something which is particularly complicated and which requires a lot of practice, such as a new language, then it is preferable to learn the subject matter in small pieces. As you become more confident with the topic so the length of time that you will be able to devote to a lesson will increase. Studying in bite-sized chunks can help you fit your learning into a busy lifestyle.