Many individuals are patronizing online courses to acquire new skills and gain additional knowledge. Yet, some individuals are unsure of the credibility of online courses or if they are really worth the money. This begs the question, are online courses worth it?
We are in the twenty-first century where information and knowledge can be gotten at the tip of our fingers. This has made life a lot easier for many people who are willing to get new skills and acquire more knowledge.
Firstly, you have access to online courses from any location in the world. Secondly, it is stress-free, and relatively less expensive compared to traditional learning.
On the other hand, online courses may not be the best bet for those who lack self-motivation and discipline.
Therefore, this article aims to highlight the pros and cons of online learning and take a stand on whether online courses are worth it or not.
What Is An Online Course
An online course can be defined as a course that can be accessed with the use of the internet. When you interact with a tutor or lecturer online via video classes, class notes, e-books, webinars, and so on, then you are actively involved in an online course.
Online courses have long been in existence but their popularity increased due to the improvement in technology and easy access to the internet.
Moreso, due to the restriction on movement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, students and teachers had no choice but to adopt e-learning.
Many online courses offer a certificate of completion which makes it valid. However, not all online courses come with a certificate. Also, it is important to note that not everyone who enrolls in an online course gets a certificate of completion.
The certificate is only given to those who attained the passing mark from the assessment taken after the course is completed. Without the passing mark, you cannot get the certificate.
In addition, to access online courses, you need an internet-supporting device to enjoy the online experience of the course.
Lastly, online courses can be accessible at any time because the lectures are already stored up on the internet. You do not have to waste time waiting for hard copy lecture materials. These are one of the reasons why online courses are worth it.
Are Online Courses Profitable
Now that we understand what an online course entails, we need to weigh the profitability of online courses to help us in our judgment of whether online courses are worth it.
Online learning can be profitable among the parties involved. That is both online tutors and students.
Online courses are profitable for the tutor in the following ways:
1. To Generate Funds
While some high-ranking technical online programs would require you to pay for the online courses before you commence the learning program, other e-learning platforms would allow you to take the courses for free till the very end but you would have to pay for certificates at the end of the course.
Therefore, both online tutors and online tutoring platforms can make money from online courses.
2. For Awareness
Sites like Google, Coursera, and Hubspot hold online courses for free to reach out to as many interested learners as possible making them one of the highest-ranking e-learning sites on the internet. This is profitable to them in terms of an increase in traffic and revenues.
3. Easy To Set Up And Manage
Unlike formal lectures, online lectures are easy to manage because you do not have to spend a lot of time talking. There is also less room for interruptions as lectures are ongoing.
Furthermore, unless there is an improvement in the course curriculum, the content of the course can be used over time. Lecture notes can also be easily shared as documents too.
Online courses can also be profitable to students in the following ways:
4. Ease Of Access And Availability Of Learning Options
Once you have a working internet-supporting device, you can access as many online courses online as possible.
Moreover, not everyone can sit down to read an online lecture note which is why there is an option for videos and audiobooks depending on the technicality of the online course.
5. No Time Restrictions
The world is filled with different activities and everyone is cut up with a lot of things. Online courses allow people to partake in their day-to-day activities without affecting their academic progress.
Not only can you take your classes at anytime you want, but it is also time-saving. This means that you can finish your course as early as possible.
6. Less Demanding
Traditional formal learning settings can be more strenuous when you have to sit in a class for more than an hour to listen to a lecture. This is very uncomfortable for students who have a short attention span.
Online learning has made it easier for students to get the value of their tuition fees when they take classes that are not long, boring, and strenuous.
7. Relatively Affordable
Online courses are mostly free and some are affordable to attain. This makes it a good option if you want to add to your skillset without spending a lot of money.
8. Long-term Financial Benefits
Online courses can be beneficial for professionals who are seeking promotion in their place of employment or those that are looking for better jobs. While the employee is busy with work duties, he or she still has time to upskill which could be valuable in the future.
Pros Of Online Courses
Online courses are beneficial to learners who are keen to gain more information and knowledge in so many ways, which include:
1. It saves time
Just as earlier explained in the previous section, online courses can be time-saving. It is reported that compared to traditional learning, corporate online courses require 40% to 60% less time to complete.
Not only do students support this claim, but employers are also investing in e-learning to improve the skills of their workers.
Most online courses are user-friendly. This is because they want you to get the best experience from the e-learning platform.
Unlike formal physical lectures, you do not have to sit in class five to seven days a week to get knowledge. The only hindrance to learning online is not being online.
Online courses are flexible. You can simply log in to the course any time you want and at your convenience.
This makes it easier to balance your life and spend more time with other important activities. This can be recommended for busy professionals and nursing mothers who are also students.
4. Better Engagement
Not only do online courses spend less time explaining long concepts, but it also encourages the students to have one on one interaction with the course tutor.
Not all students are comfortable with asking questions in class. This is why online courses can be of benefit in terms of getting better clarifications on complex topics.
5. Improve soft skills
Some online courses may teach you simple soft skills that many people lack. This can be as simple as constructing a professional email.
The benefit of this is enormous because it makes you more employable than an individual who lacks such skills.
For you to be able to achieve your goal in your online course, you must be determined enough to finish what you started.
Online courses teach you how to be self-determined because you are the only one responsible for the progress of your learning. No lecturer is delaying the course material. The only thing delaying your progress is you.
7. Involves All Learning Styles
Learning is different among all individuals and it is possible to find students with different learning styles. Some might be visual learners while others might require audio learning.
E-learning platforms have made it easier for different types of learners to fit into the online learning system.
There are a variety of options ranging from videos to ebooks to audiobooks that are readily available for students who fit into such learning profiles.
Cons Of Online Courses
The downside peculiar to online courses includes:
Because you are under less pressure to complete a course task, it is easy to shift your online projects and attend to other things. When there is no one to remind you of your online course commitment, there will be an urge to procrastinate.
This is because of the flexibility attached to online learning. However, if there is no discipline, the online learning process may be slow and unsatisfactory.
2. Time Mismanagement
Without good time management, you will find yourself focusing on the minor course parts while the major ones keep suffering.
Traditional classes will enable your lecturer to concentrate on what is necessary for the course curriculum but online classes mainly depend on you to figure out what information is useful and what is not.
3. Inconsistency In Learning Style
Some e-learning platforms may not consider the fact that all students have different learning styles. While some can handle the pressure of studying and learning on their own, others are interpersonal learners.
Interpersonal learners need people around them to study better but online courses mainly support intrapersonal learners who prefer to read alone.
Some platforms may have a page for interaction and group studies among online students but they might not be as effective as physical meetings.
4. Technical Challenges
When the connectivity is poor, then learning can be very inconsistent. This can affect the easy assimilation of knowledge passed down from the lecturer to the students.
The poor internet connection which is probably caused by connection speed can affect the audio or video output when a lecture is ongoing which might be detrimental to audio and visual learners.
Because there is limited contact with the teacher and other students, a student can feel isolated and if not well managed, it can lead to depression. It is necessary to create platforms where students can interact and feel less alone.
6. Health Hazard
Online courses may require you to spend a lot of time on the screen of your mobile device or computer. This can harm your eyes as well as other parts of the body that are involved.
For example, sitting or staying in a posture for long periods can lead to body pains which could be harmful if not well treated. To avoid this, set a time for studying and stick to it and take breaks when necessary.
Do online courses have any value?
Yes. Online courses are valuable as they impact skills and knowledge in individuals. Also, individuals can leverage certificates earned from online learning platforms as proof of skills and ability, particularly when applying for jobs.
Do online certificates count?
Yes, they do. Online certificates from reputable universities and e-learning platforms are recognized and accepted by employees.
Is online learning better than classroom learning?
Research shows that students retain about 25-60% more information when they learn online compared to classroom learning in which only 8-10% of information is retained.
Furthermore, students can access online classes at times they learn best, whether morning, evening, or night as opposed to classroom learning.
What are the effects of online classes?
Positive effects of online learning include self-determination, flexibility, convenience, and time management.
In contrast, some negative attributes of online learning include bad classroom ethics, lack of physical engagement, and indiscipline.
I have addressed what online courses are and how profitable they can be to the students, the tutors, and the institution that organizes these courses. I have also considered the pros and cons of studying online courses.
While there are lots of disadvantages to learning online, the positives surely outweigh the negative effects and we can conclude that online courses are worth it.
Also, due to the effects of the pandemic, the e-learning market has witnessed exponential growth. This means that online learning is here to stay.
Furthermore, more e-learning platforms have sprung up over time and the high demand for online learning has created a need to improve the online learning experience for both teachers and learners alike.
In this regard, technological advances have driven improvements in e-learning. For example, the introduction of microlearning and interactive videos in e-learning.
Lastly, learners learn in different ways, check this article on types of learning to know how to get the best out of your students as a teacher.
I hope this article helped. Thank you for reading.