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Things to Bear in Mind Before Selecting an Online Course
Selecting an Online Course? According to Forbes, the global e-learning market is estimated to reach USD 325 billion in 2025.
Equipped with digital tools, today, teachers can reach students without worrying about geographical barriers. The education industry has greatly benefited from technology, widespread usage of the internet, and mediums’ availability to connect and communicate easily. The pandemic has also contributed greatly to the popularity of online education.
The benefits of online education are countless. Although it was earlier adopted primarily by working professionals who could not put their lives on hold for learning, it is now popularly embraced by students belonging to all age groups and different walks of life. Easy access, elimination of the need to visit the campus, ease of revisiting recorded sessions, and, most importantly, reduced barriers to the number of attendees are some of the major benefits of online education.
However, as many online certification courses have cropped up, choosing a credible one that justifies your career objectives becomes a challenge. Additionally, some institutes make big claims, only to offer substandard course material, adopt poor teaching methods, or offer certification that holds no value in the job market. On top of this, the online world is riddled with many fake institutes that defraud unsuspecting students and loot money, often under the pretext of offering early bird discounts.
Considering this background, the importance of doing some research before choosing the right institute cannot be underestimated.
The following tips can help you make an informed decision:
Online Course: Accreditation
This is the most important criteria to consider when it comes to making a pick. While choosing a non-accredited college is not necessarily a bad idea, it makes a big difference when you start hunting for a job. Additionally, if you’re looking for a scholarship or any financial aid, remember that federal funds support only some accredited institutions.
Reputation and success of the schools being considered
The reputation of a school again makes a difference when you seek employment opportunities. Look out for honest reviews from alumni and do not fall prey merely to marketing gimmicks. Check out for scams before you write that check for paying fees.
How accessible is the faculty outside of lecture hours? A good faculty will provide advisory functions and mentor their students, preparing them to navigate their academic journey successfully. You can do your homework in this regard by approaching alumni and discussing it with your career advisor. You may even request for one-to-one interaction with the faculty to assess whether the selected institute is the right one for you.
Student services offered
With most students shifting to an online system, colleges are expanding their ambit of services being offered. Research about the kind of allied services offered and determine whether the institute provides complimentary e-books, free guidance on career opportunities, round-the-clock technical assistance, and counseling services.
Online Course Costs
Once you have selected credible institutes based on the parameters mentioned above, it is time to compare them based on your budget restraints. Compare the fees holistically and look out for hidden fees. Check for scholarship programs and other financial support offered too.
Has the institute collaborated with any recruiting agency? Are they offering networking services such as virtual career fairs to build contacts with prospective employers? Are workshops and training sessions being conducted to prepare you for interviews and develop other skill sets necessary to make you job-ready?
What kind of technology is used by the institute to conduct classes and deliver the program? Is the platform user-friendly? Check whether the program tools allow you to interact with other students and teachers so that classroom appears lively and active. You may request for a walk-through to get a brief idea beforehand.
The biggest concern of any parent or a student while choosing a school is the quality of education. Are the recorded sessions archived in a place where they can be easily accessed? The curriculum should cover theoretical and practical aspects of any topic, allowing students to discuss, conduct debates, and participate in collaborative projects.
Interactivity and engagement
A passive classroom creates a dull environment and makes learning difficult. On the other hand, if online sessions are made fun and interactive, the drawback of not having a face-to-face interaction, which is possible in a traditional setup, can be overcome. Choose an institution that encourages interaction and plans assignments that boost engagement among students and teachers.
Online Course Tech support
Technical support is crucial for the successful implementation of any online learning course as valuable time is lost in case of any issue. Round-the-clock tech support is necessary to quickly address technical issues you or the faculty may face while using the online platform. Look out for such institutions that may offer support accordingly.
Are the online classroom timings in alignment with your commitments, and is there room for flexibility? Is it possible to transfer your credits to the next year if you’re not able to start with the current academic year due to other reasons?
A lot depends on what kind of learner you are. If you like classroom learning and it is not possible for you to be motivated to study online – then maybe you shouldn’t opt for it. However, online learning is certainly beneficial for students who have other commitments, such as work or child care. If you’re an independent learner and are comfortable using online platforms for learning, you can greatly benefit from online courses, especially if you do not reside close to a reputed institution.
Online courses from a reputed institution are no longer considered to be a non-traditional way of education. In fact, with unavoidable situations such as the recent pandemic, many campus teachers are getting used to online platforms. The beauty of online education is that it offers you an opportunity to get trained from the best educational institutes, irrespective of your location.
Research, research, research! Use institute resources like websites, online reviews, and social media to make an informed decision. Choosing the wrong college would mean wastage of money, time, and effort. Any online course should add value to your career advancements in terms of knowledge and experience. I hope the above points will give you a brief idea about choosing the right school for online education. All the best!