Published on June 14, 2019 | Online courses
Tips on choosing the best online courses.
Scott Kilgore was frustrated. He had been a registered nurse for 18 years, specializing in oncology and emergency care, but every time he tried to advance his career in nursing administration he hit a wall. “After three years of interviewing and being told by recruiters that I was going to have to get a masters-level degree in order to progress further, I finally took their advice,” the 44-year-old said.
He enrolled in George Washington University’s Online courses for master of science in nursing program.“The flexibility was key for me,” he said. “Two cross-country moves for my husband’s job and the adoption of our daughter, Parker, never disrupted my education.”
That was four years ago. – source
Online courses and distance learning are no longer just a trend, they are an ongoing phenomenon that has been attracting thousands of students worldwide. In the U.S., for instance, according to WCET Distance Education Enrollment, the number of students who enrolled in a distance learning degree increased five times from around 1.5 million to 6 million in the last ten years. With such a large number of students enrolling from the comfort of their home, the emphasis has fallen on picking the right course, program and platform off of which to learn. However, sifting through all the slew of Online course offerings can be perplexing.
Don’t fret though we’ve compiled a few steps to help you sort through the various options and find a course that’s a good fit for you.
- Deciding on your criteria.
What are you expecting from a course? To pick up a new skill that would help your profession? Or would you like a comprehensive specialisation in a field or subject you’d like to pursue professionally? Maybe you’d just like to know what a particular field/subject comprises of and is all about. Perhaps you just like to utilise your spare time more diligently. Whichever might be the case there is definitely an online course/online degree there for you. While usually candidates opt for a course so that they may either change jobs or add skills. Many take up courses to pass time and dabble in different fields. Give it some thought as to, why you want to pursue an online course or degree.
Are you learning for work or for fun? How much time can you spare in a week towards learning? While few online courses are intensive and require a substantial investment of time others may be part-time and aren’t as rigorous as full-time courses. A few are self-paced and allow you to pick up where you left off from last time. They need the least investment of time in a week and give you greater flexibility than the others.
Are you looking to develop a specific skill, if so, what is it? What topics are you especially interested in? These are but a few questions you need to ask yourself before enrolling. Once you’ve figured out the topic of the course that you’d like to pursue it’s on to the next step of selecting an institute under which you’d like to pursue the course.
Research, reading, exploration and accreditation.
Now that you know what you need from a course. It’s time to browse through all the available, related courses. Remember to read the course description and requirements thoroughly. The course usually mentions the number of expected hours you’d have to give per week, the duration of the entire online courses, its syllabus and the level of proficiency required for the course. Do not be afraid of selecting multiple courses that fit your required criteria. If you’re taking the course with the intention of earning credits or certificates, it would be wise to pursue the course through accredited and verified online schools only.
“There are about 75 regional, national and specialized accrediting agencies that serve as overseers for post-secondary institutions that have access to federal student aid. The agencies regularly appraise the quality of institutions to certify they comply with the federal education law. Most public, private and non-profit higher education institutions are regionally accredited, while national and specialized accreditors review for-profit and trade schools.
Quality Matters, a non-profit organization providing standards for courses and program review, is another indicator of worth in the online universe, – Dr Miner-Romanoff.”
- Interview your professors and universities.
Further, take a look at the faculties teaching videos, podcasts and other mediums of teaching. The course would be no good if you can’t understand your teacher. If you have the time, e-mail the schools and professors to get a better understanding of the course and its requirements. Get to know your teachers and remember to send them a kind word or two every once in a while. An email goes a long way. If you show promise and genuine interest in the subjects that your learning, they might be able to further guide you professionally and help you out however they can. Remember nothing comes from nothing; if you want help from anyone you’ll have to give them a reason to help you out. Your professors are human beings too. And human beings require social interaction. It’s easier for you to help your friends and family as opposed to a random pedestrian because of the social interactions that you share with your friends/family. So, build a rapport with your professors and get to know them. Studies suggest that human beings are much more helpful by nature than we are self-gratifying. A reason as simple as emailing regularly is enough to make most people go above and beyond to try and help you out.
- Are you comfortable with synchronous or asynchronous classes?
Although we all have the same 24hrs in a day not all of us learn at the same pace. Some classes are ‘synchronous’ which means that the classes are taught in real-time, similar to those on campus. A candidate’s attendance is required for him to receive and be a part of that day’s discussion. ‘Asynchronous’ classes have no time requirements for when you need to read lectures or participate in discussions. Hence, you are self-paced. This form of teaching relies on assignment and discussion deadlines to keep students up to pace and on track.
- Narrowing down your choices.
Once you’re familiar with the level of the teaching, timings of classes and the length of the session. Take a look at the average class size to be sure there isn’t any overcrowding. Additionally, see if the alumni network is strong and helpful. Find out the ratings and reviews of each course.
- Get started!
There is only one final factor to consider, cost. When comparing prices look at the number of weeks, discounts and promotions and topics that are covered by the various courses. Based on your criteria’s and timings find out which course makes the most sense for you and get started. If you are auditing the course then you can get started right away.
We’ve already mentioned earlier how MOOC’s and Online courses are advantageous and give us the opportunity to grow and improve in our own time. Pursuing an online degree course gives you the flexibility of a MOOC while retaining the weight of an actual degree. Even with so much ease, flexibility and financial bargains provided to users the completion rate of MOOC’s/Online courses are alarmingly low. [It stands at round under 15% read more here]
Which goes against conventional wisdom regarding any commodity. Why’s that? Who knows? Perhaps there’s a psychological factor involved with traditional brick and mortar educational setting that forces us to learn, even when we don’t feel like it. But all that for another time, in another blog post.
For more details on how to choose the best online degree course/program for you, try these:-
- How to choose the right course for you – Futurelearn
- How to choose the best online school – campus explorer
Still perplexed and baffled by which course to take online or offline as well? We here at Navigus.in seek to clear all and any of your doubts away. Our mission is to turn the career-course-college decision into a concrete science. We plan to achieve this by incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Data Science to create a virtual replica of students, identify their sweet spot between will, skill, motivations and map them to their best fit course-college-career combination – thus providing them with a platform for self-discovery at an early stage of life.