E-learning: invest now and reap the benefits later
In 2020, online education is still big business and what seems to be working during COVID 19 pandemic.
With a plethora of different e-learning courses and hunger thirst students to take a course of their choosing, it can be difficult to choose between education apps, online portals, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and old-fashioned courses in brick and mortar institutions.
Similarly, Institutions of Higher Learning offering free online courses have begun to flood the web with a million and one courses.
The big question however remains, how do you select the right one?
1.Relevance of e-learning
The world is changing rapidly. Twenty-first century workers are no longer happy to stay in the same job for most of their salaried lives but are more likely to undertake a range of different employments in a variety of different contexts. Consequently, education is having to transform at an equally rapid rate in order to keep up with employers’ demands for new and further advanced skills.
Learners of all ages including those already in employment are now looking to improve their skills. With that in mind, the range of different online courses with education apps means available for anyone with access to the internet means there’s desire for the majority of people to improve themselves and increase their earnings.
A high percentage of young people today are preparing for jobs that may not have even been created yet and the gap between skills and requirements is ever-widening. E-learning, educational apps and distance education are fast becoming essential tools enabling learners of all ages to prepare for a better range of jobs and keep ahead of the job creation curve.
In a fast-paced society, traditional routes of education quickly become dated and obsolete. Take computers, for example: by the time a text book can be written and published consumers will be purchasing the next generation. In all fields of academia, new research and findings are produced all the time. Previously, only students at the best institutions with access to the most dynamic tutors would be able to keep up; now distance education can make job creators, leaders and experts in one’s field.
How To Gauge Which Course to Pay For
You could ask yourself, why pay when some providers are offering courses for free?
It has become very simple for anyone to post material on-line that it is almost impossible to know which particular online courses to trust. If you’ve pursued an online free e-learning course, then it’s no surprise when you realize there’s a hidden “price-tag” attached to it. Might that “secret agenda” compromise the quality and suitability of the material provided.
“If you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product.” (Andrew Lewis)
Paid distant education providers do not need to look elsewhere for their funding to bring freedom, sense, focus and relevance to their materials. Students from across the globe become customers which is a higher profile in the eyes of providers. Regular income allows for continual improvement in education technology keeping the content therein as thorough and recent as possible. Furthermore, research suggests that students who pay tuition fees are far more likely to complete the course. And with a marketplace such as Udemy to match open courses with individual needs, it is easy to find the right online courses to set you on track for your future.
2. Flexibility of e-learning
Digital advancements have already transformed the face of education technology, making distance education far more flexible and accessible for anyone across the world. In addition, the phenomenal pace of advancements in education apps for smartphones, edtech and better network connectivity across Africa means almost everyone can access better e-learning opportunities in a way that suits their needs.
Do you have a family? Do you want to study in the United Kingdom but live in Africa? With the educational apps on the rise, studying from anywhere at any time is a win-win situation for both the student and the provider.Gone is the need to travel to a geographical location by a fixed time to join a lesson. Online courses offer freedom; e-learning comes to you whenever and wherever you choose. There are currently an enormous number of young people in Africa who need to develop their skills; all that’s left is to match each individual with the vast array of available open courses through Coursera and Udemy.com.
Is e-learning an alternative to University?
Indeed, distance education does not replace higher institutions of learning at all. If anything some of the best universities are taking advantage of advancements in education technology to offer a vast range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) themselves.Consequently, educators are able to accommodate many more students at a time with edtech which allows better interaction with tutors and access to all the latest resources without a library waiting lists or opening hours.
In contrast, Udemy does not intend to compete with established universities but adds an extra dimension by offering e-learning to professionals and those who might not consider college.
3. Efficiency in e-learning
With less overheads, elearning is certainly more cost effective for both student and tutor as there are no extra living costs or buildings to maintain.
As described, the range of open courses available is vast. At university, students rely on name and tradition to feel confident when they are buying into a trusted institution.
How can independent online providers compete?
Most people trust non-profit providers such as Khan Academy or EdX since they are not driven by a financial reward.
However, it is becoming clearer that commercial providers can offer far better materials and a wider range of educational apps making the whole elearning experience more relevant, enjoyable and affordable.
Commercial e-learning providers
Coursera is an online platform offering a range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through partnership with universities throughout the world. Most courses are “accessible for free” with the choice of paying for enhanced services including verified certificates. Assessments include peer marking or exams instantly marked on-line to reduce costs. Over 1,000 business, technology and personal development courses are available using edtech such as lively video clips. Education apps are available and the platform is presented in 8 different languages offering sub-titles in a further 26. There’s no academic credit given for any courses at the moment.
Unlike the long-term commitment required by most Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Coursmos offers “bite-sized learning” (TechCrunch) in the form of micro-learning with most lessons based on videos no more than three minutes long. It offers over 36,000 open courses in 12 different languages from university and commercial partners on every topic imaginable including stress management, music and cookery. It uses videos and YouTube and also has education apps with links to Facebook and other social media sites. Some online courses are free but most are charged for through monthly payments with prices determined by instructors.
This is an online e-learning community offering practical interactive e-learning with no access criteria. Skillshare’s courses are self-paced but no accreditation is available. Payment for over 6,000 online courses in the premium service is through monthly subscription. An estimate of 600 classes are free and cover a range of subjects from technology and the creative industry. Lessons are on how to create video clips with access only through the premium service. Most partners on Skillshare are not universities but relevant companies and brands: Skillshare is primarily in English.
Offering technology, business and creative skills in up to 5,000 online courses, Lynda is another industrial oriented platform based on video tutorials. Payment is monthly and a range of educational apps are available. Now owned by LinkedIn, instruction is available in five languages and while there are no accreditations, the teachers at Lynda are industrial experts.
As a leading online marketplace, Udemy offers e-learning of all kind of topics, starting from academic courses to small entities around everyday life questions. The courses are relatively short (1 hour – 5 hours average) which means they can be easily integrated in the day. Currently there are credited courses at Udemy. Students take courses largely as a means of improving job-related skills while some courses generate credit toward technical certification. Udemy has made a special effort to attract corporate trainers seeking to create coursework for employees of their company.
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