Based on a 2019 study, Research and Markets forecasted that the online education market will reach $230 billion by 2025—and given the major impact of COVID-19, it’s likely that online programs will see even greater growth. Irrespective of your area of interest, there is definitely a program of study you can find online to address any knowledge or skill gap. A 2021 Online Education Trends Report by Best Colleges provides the following statistics:
- 95% of students overall, and 83% of remote learners, said they would recommend online or remote learning to others.
- An overwhelming majority (93%) of students said they have had or expect a positive return on their online education investment.
- Overall, a majority (74%) of students thought that online learning was better than or equal to on-campus learning; 64% of remote learners felt this way, too.
Personally, I have benefited from online learning and so feel confident to write about this subject. From schedule flexibility, to lower costs, gaining promotion, career change, work-study and comfort to having a plethora of courses to choose from, the benefits are enormous. As today’s workforce moves rapidly towards online, – thanks to the pandemic which has accelerated the pace, learning and skills acquisition is also towing the same path. Why should you consider an online training today versus the traditional brick and mortar model?
You don’t have to travel, take time off work or spend hours every weekend in a classroom after a busy week at work. It provides you an opportunity to keep your job while further developing yourself. You also have the flexibility to learn at your own pace. You are practically not bound by time and space, you just learn on the go in an environment or setting that suits you the most. This allows you to make time for the things that matter like exercise, rest and spending time with family and friends. You can decide to study or review course materials early in the morning prior to going to work and then say for another hour on your back from work if you are not driving, or just moments before bed time. The choice is entirely yours.
Cost of Education
In some cases, the cost per credit course both for online and traditional learning might be similar, however, there are some costs prospective students don’t take into consideration. For example, room and board, meals, housing, commute time and cost, textbooks. Factors which drive down cost of online studies include little to zero need for supplies like papers, handouts, desks, etc. Also the course content can be recycled – a recorded version of the online can be taught over and over again without the teacher being physically present every time to take the course.
I recall how terrible I felt several years back when I was denied a student visa to go study for a postgraduate degree abroad. Now, with the advent on online studies, you can acquire education in most fields without leaving your home country. You do not have to convince the consular or visa officer anymore that you have “strong ties” to your place of birth. The beauty of it all? You get as much the same recognition someone who attended physically will get as online education begins to gain more acceptance and credibility globally.
The major benefits obviously include application of the knowledge and skills learned to your current job, pay raise, becoming more valuable to your employer while also potentially setting yourself up for career advancement. Two persons might join a company at the same level with the same qualifications. While one finds every excuse for not improving himself, another takes advantage of online trainings, acquires more skills, contributes better at work and becomes more relevant to the organization. This already gives him a edge when it’s time to objectively determining who gets promoted.
Asides, the universities and colleges, today there are several online platforms which provide a platform for cheap and cost-effective online trainings from top universities all over the world. Below are some of the top e-learning websites you should consider.
- Coursera: I discovered Coursera about 8 years ago and I have benefitted greatly from this online learning site. The founders envisioned a world where people, anywhere can transform their lives by accessing the world’s best learning experience. More than 70 million learners use Coursera to take courses offered by top universities like Yale, Stanford, and Duke and top companies like Google, IBM, and Facebook. They offer courses, specializations, diplomas from the best schools globally. With careful search you can also find some good courses for free or at give-away prices. I have compiled a list of the free courses you can access on Coursera here. Course completion certificates are a great way to show mastery of the subject and also enhance your professional reputation.
2. Edx: The vision of Edx reads “As a global non-profit, we’re relentlessly pursuing our vision of a world where every learner can access education to unlock their potential, without the barriers of cost or location.” They provide access to high-quality education for people all over the world as long you have a mobile phone or laptop and access to internet. You will find great courses from Harvard, MIT, University of California Berkeley, Boston University amongst others. There are over 160 universities affiliated with Edx.
3. Edureka: This platform prides itself in being the fastest growing education marketplace on the internet. They might not be the cheapest or biggest, but they obviously play actively within the IT and data science space. They are a good learning platform for continuing education, partnering with corporate organizations and institutions of learning. They have a strong focus on personal attention and support for learners.
4. LinkedIn Learning: With LinkedIn being the world’s largest professional network with almost 760 million members, it is natural they would also create an e-learning platform. LinkedIn Learning is rapidly becoming the fastest growing online learning website of choice for professionals looking to advance their careers in business, economics, politics, data science and virtually every other aspect you can think of. Their visual instructor-led model is also very appealing to those who rather watch lessons than read from the computer or mobile phones. On completion of the courses, you have the option to download a certificate and automatically update your LinkedIn profile with the newly acquired certificate or diploma.
5. Udemy: Very popular e-learning platform where you are guaranteed to find good deals, sales and pocket-friendly courses which might go for as low as $10 per course. Udemy claims to have the world’s largest collection of online courses (over 130,000 online video courses). You can also find some free courses on Udemy which could be a good starting point if you are operating on a tight budget. The only flip side to Udemy is that unlike Coursera and Edx, which both have strong affiliations to top Universities, there are quite a number of courses offered by individuals. So, if you are thinking of just skills or knowledge acquisition, this might work, but if want to have something to show potential employers on your resume, you have to look elsewhere. But nonetheless, there are a number of great courses on Udemy to explore if the cost is a concern for you.
There are also other platforms like Future Learn, QuickStart (if your interest is in online IT certification, you should check them out – Microsoft, AWS, CISCO, etc. They also have a 30-day free-trial for individuals), Shaw Academy (they offer a lot of freebies as well) and so many more. Which ones have you explored? I’ll be glad to hear from you.Get Over 2,500 Online Data Entry Jobs! Real Home Employment – Over 2,500 Data Entry Companies!