Online education is all the rage right now. Every person has or is currently taking an online course. The boom of online learning and teaching platforms in recent years like upGrad have paved the way for a revolution in the education industry as a whole.
But, is the hype to be believed? Is online education really as wonderful and useful as it seems? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions by looking at the practical advantages of online education.
We’ll be deeply examining the usefulness of online courses through the practical lens of: time, money, and benefit in the real world, since these are the parameters that matter to takers of online courses.
3 Practical Advantages of Online Education
1. Time and flexibility
Online courses are both time savers and time enhancers. Think of all the pockets of time that go unused and can be used to squeeze in some precious learning. Brushing in the morning, having breakfast, commuting to work, commuting back from work, making and having dinner.
Now, if you were to go and only learn in a physical classroom, you would not be able to properly utilize this time. You could either revise or read and both of them aren’t feasible during certain pockets (for eg. reading while driving).
But, contrast this with online learning. Online classrooms are not only available anytime you want them, but they are available in a variety of formats, most notably audio. You can inhale tonnes of knowledge and information while you are driving, eating, doing your laundry, doing your dishes. It’s all available with a simple Internet connection and sometimes without one as well.
Then there is the question of learning styles and learning times. Some people learn better alone, some learn better in groups. Online platforms allow the option of both. If you want to be the lone wolf, you can simply learn and not participate in any group activities or peer-to-peer assignments. If you are a pack animal, then you can make use of the online forums and group discussion groups either on the course website only or group platforms like Reddit.
Then there’s time. Maybe you are a night owl and learn best in the 1-2 hours before sleep after the day is done with. Or maybe you like to get up 1 hour early so you can absorb and learn before the day begins and then revise/implement it all throughout the day.
Online education factors in both learning modalities. With a simple log-in, you have vast amounts of knowledge, right at your fingertips – be it the crack of dawn or midnight. If you were to attend offline classrooms, such flexibility and openness wouldn’t have been available to you. Due to a heavy workload at the office, maybe you can’t stick to your regular post-dinner learning schedule so you prefer to wake up 1 hour early and complete your course modules. Offline, this luxury and this flexibility would most likely not be available to you. But with online education, you can continue your education in a manner that aligns with your lifestyle and doesn’t overhaul it.
Practically, money is another important consideration. How much does this course cost? Is it worth its value? Will my salary be able to sustain this subscription without stripping me of cash entirely?
Whichever way you look at it, online courses will always be inexpensive relative to classroom courses. This is because the latter always comes with other benefits that require more effort and time from the teachers’ end, which reflects in the pricing as well. If you are going for correspondence or an online degree, then you aren’t making use of the dorms, the on-campus facilities, the food in the mess, the library and the laboratories. All these translate into lower costs of online courses.
In contrast, for online learning, once the course material is ready it simply has to be put on the platforms, discussions, and operations are to be moderated, and questions have to be answered. No one is commuting or traveling long distances, making use of campus resources, or needing any specialized books. There are no lands, property, buildings to be maintained. No staff to be paid. It is simply the value of the material, the value of the course that you are paying for. That is what dictates the pricing.
But, this is all relative to offline courses. In and of itself, some courses might have an exorbitant price that you wouldn’t have been expecting. This is again, a reflection of the course content. Some courses have experts coming in who are either world leaders, bestselling authors, or brilliant businessmen. For instance, upGrad’s data science course has top CEOs and professors from IIIT-B as instructors. Offline, you might not be able to benefit from their brains and expertise. But due to the easy global access to online classrooms, you can.
The amazing thing that remains unchanged is the plethora of options available to you. You can always go for one that is geographically distant because hey, whether it’s the United Kingdom or Uttrakhand, they are all just a click away.
3. Job opportunities and placements
This advantage is still murky. Is a placement or job offer assured after you’ve taken an online course? The answer is found in another question: is the assurance present even in offline learning? No, it isn’t. Not even after you’ve done a professional degree from a prestigious university.
What online education does is allow you to build a skillset in a relatively short amount of time and empower you to present it in the best way possible. For example, if you’ve done an online course in web design, instead of relying on certificates only, you can use the projects you created during the course as your portfolio and a starting point for getting clients. You can position yourself as a freelancer or add it to your skill set at the workplace as well.
Hiring managers also see online degrees as evidence of your go-getter attitude and your eagerness to learn and progress. So, expect it to cast a positive light on your resume overall.
Sometimes, the connections you make in the online groups serve as the starting point for professional associations. It is recommended, though, that you take a course with a plan as to how you are going to make a career out of what you are learning and not rely on others to determine your path. Doing so will infuse more energy in your learning as well by setting you up for self-responsibility and proactivity.
There you have it: the 3 practical advantages of online education. If you ever had any doubts as to whether you should take an online course or not, we hope you are ready to give them a try. Check out one of upGrad’s online courses to begin.