Online education can open up a world of opportunities for people interested in furthering their careers. With courses covering everything from accountancy to zoology readily available at our fingertips, it’s easy to see why online education would be an appealing option. But it is still constantly marred by the same question: are online courses as good as the rest?
When online education was still finding its feet, countless “diploma mills” began popping up everywhere. These institutions flooded the market with meaningless certificates, putting students and employers alike off these new degrees. Part of that stigma remains to this day, but the reality that online education can be reputable and worthwhile is setting in as some of the most reputable institutions in the world begin offering these courses.
When considering online education, it’s crucial to take into account what you will be learning. Online courses are better suited to certain areas of learning than others. Tech skills for example are perfectly suited to online learning, and of LinkedIn’s top 25 in-demand skills this year, 21 were tech-related. In this case, taking an online course is the perfect way to learn new skills in your spare time. Furthermore, tech skills are widely applicable, so you don’t need to work in IT for this to be a good choice.
Other subjects don’t work quite as well online. Science can be learnt and understood, but the lack of actual lab experience would make an online certification a lot less appealing to potential employers. The importance of practical, real-life experience is something that needs to be taken into account before enrolling in anything.
Where possible, you should stick to colleges and universities that have been accredited by a national body. This can usually be identified if the institution has a .edu web address. The lack of such an address can be a red flag, but it doesn’t instantly mean the institution is invalid.
If you’re still unsure, a global registry of accredited institutions can be searched in seconds here, and will save you from attending a Trump University reunion in about 20 years.
One thing potential employers love to see on a CV is proof that you have a genuine interest, understanding of, and commitment to your line of work. Few things demonstrate this more than a willingness to give up your free time to become better at what you do.
Online education isn’t simply limited to degrees either. Short certification courses in things like Excel, Photoshop, and Google Adwords are all positive for your CV. These certifications serve as proof of your skills and dedication, and employers will recognise that.
While there remains some stigma around online courses, you shouldn’t let that stand in your way. When it comes to the question of whether or not such courses are worth doing, the answer is simple: it depends. They can be a great way to learn new skills and further your career, in the right cases. Pick the right subject matter and institution, and online education could help you take the next step in your career.