How Online Courses Can Improve Your Life In 2021
Updated: Feb 25
The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to reshape almost every aspect of our world and that includes education.
At the beginning of spring, schools began to close their doors for the unseeable future. Hundreds of millions of students, of all ages, then began to look at online courses as a viable alternative to traditional schooling.
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While online learning may be a new concept with primary and secondary education systems, online courses have been serving post-secondary, college, and professional level students for quite some time.
“The benefits of online learning have been so apparent that even Ivy League institutes like Yale and Cornell are beginning to integrate specialized certification programs and continuing education eLearning platforms.”
With these new adaptations, let’s take a look at some of the unrecognized benefits of online courses and see how these classes can help improve your life in 2021 or beyond.
Benefits Of Online Courses
The first benefit of online learning is convenience. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we are all busy people — professionally and socially.
Even if your calendar is filling up with daytime Zoom parties, FaceTime workouts, and office Skype meetings, you are still able to enroll in most online courses because they are typically self-paced.
With that said online courses offer better ease of access in comparison to non-digital forms of education; some courses can even be taken on your mobile phone or tablet and they are available at any given time of day or week.
With this type of convenience and ease of access comes a reduction in travel, commuting, and all the expenses associated with getting to class. This also means that you save more of your time.
Additionally, online learning and online courses provide greater flexibility when it comes to when you are learning, how often you are learning, and what you are learning.
This also means that online courses are more specified and cost-effective than traditional options like degree programs that typically have pre-requisite, electives, or liberal arts requirements.
There is no requirement to take courses that you do not need or do not serve your career path. Finally, most non-degree style online courses offer lifetime access to new material or ongoing education.
Benefits of Online Courses for Adult Professionals
When continuing the topic on the flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and specification of online learning, it becomes apparent to see how online courses can help adult professionals who are continuing their education for purposes of developing their chosen career.
For working professionals, the best benefit of learning online is the ability to develop new desirable skills and improve existing ones.
For instance, a Marketing professional may benefit from taking a course or purchasing a kit like “The Ultimate Guide To Sales Prospecting & Lead Generation for B2B Sales and Business Development” by Patrick Dang on Skillshare, but they may not benefit as much from Marketing degree course work that includes Art History, Mathematics, English, or Science classes — unless having the credential of having a degree is necessary for career advancement.
Many companies will even pay partial tuition for job-related non-degree courses that expand the employee's knowledge of position based fundamentals, industry technologies, or strategic methodology. For instance, a Software Engineer may be able to receive reimbursement from his company after paying for courses related to learning software used by that particular company.
Another benefit of online learning for adult professionals is the chance of building job relevance and a professional network. With online courses, you can add credentials to your resume or even build a personal network of fellow students who are in your industry. By chance, online courses may even open you up to a new career opportunity.
Lastly, an online course can help you build the essential skills and trades needed for entrepreneurial work, growing your existing business and clientele, or starting almost any business from scratch.
Nowadays, you can find courses on any possible aspect of a business from learning how to do dropshipping and how to open up an online store to how to do content marketing and how to engage with customers on social media.
Online Courses For Every Preference
While there are many types of online courses, most people are familiar with computer-managed learning (CML), fixed e-learning, interactive online learning, and collaborative online learning.
Computer-managed learning (CML), also known as computer-managed instruction (CMI), is a form of learning where information databases manage access 2 to content with a username and login. With these courses, the student interacts only with a computer through assignments like pre-developed tests and instructional videos rather than with an instructor.
This type of learning is reserved for subjects that have definite answers like History, Science, and Math, but is ineffective for subjects of humanity like Reading, Writing, and Psychology that involve critical thinking or subjective opinions.
Fixed e-learning courses are courses that are designed and based around a particular written course, how-to, or subject with a learning plan. The digital shell (platform) and content are pre-made and it is a one size fits all learning experience.
The materials are predetermined by the teachers or experts and don’t adapt to the student’s preferences. However, they are effective enough to provide materials and learning to a large audience of students. e-Learning courses can cover a vast array of topics from marketing to nursing and human sciences.
Interactive online learning provides two-way communication between a team and student, or an assembly of professors, professionals, and groups.
Unlike the other types of online learning, these courses allow for virtual meetings, chats, or forums. It is now being considered to be one of the more popular online learning styles — especially for primary and secondary education.
Collaborative learning is similar to online learning in the sense that students communicate in a group. However, collaborative learning takes things a step further by offering students the ability to work as “virtual lab partners,” working together to strategically achieve their course objective.
This type of learning is beneficial in the sense of helping students to develop virtual communication skills like SMS and email that will be imperative in our ever-changing world. Collaborative learning is gaining popularity with elective, trade, and professional online learning.
Online Course Providers
Online course providers vary as much as their online learning styles counterparts. When looking for an educator, most students will consider an educational institute like a vocational, technical, community college, or university as an online course provider.
While it is true that you can utilize educational institutes for individual courses or degree programs, you may find that these organizations do not provide as many specialized courses.
For specialized courses, like those that teach you how to use software applications like the Hubspot or Hootsuite marketing tools, you may find that it is better to purchase classes directly from the source.
With the example given above, Hubspot provides a free Hubspot Academy that includes both open source and paid courses.
Cleverly enough, Hootsuite also has its very own academy as well. Best of all, when courses are completely through a software vendor or supplier, the student will usually earn a certification or qualification that can be added to their resume.
Social learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, SkillShare, or Skillsoft are the newly popular online course 4 providers. With social learning experts or influencers of select industries will host self-produced courses on channels similar to those you would find on Youtube, but with social learning platforms, all courses are instructional.
While some courses are free to view on the platform, other courses have a small individual fee or require a premium platform membership to view.
Masterclasses, not to be confused with the website Masterclass, are courses provided by an expert in a particular specialized discipline like a hairstylist or a pianist. Though beginner classes are available, people attending a masterclass typically have some knowledge of the subject matter and are looking for guidance or mentorship.
Though masterclasses were previously popular conference and network events, amid the pandemic caused by the novice COVID-19 virus, these classes have also become online courses.
Masterclasses have one distinct trait over the other online course providers, they are typically webinar-style virtual meetings where the expert is the teacher, host, and moderator.
Private course and lesson providers are yet another option for online courses. These sellers are usually experts or instructors on a particular topic with which they have used to develop a lesson plan and course; some courses even include additional resources like downloadable workbooks. These courses are typically developed in an e-learning style web platform and hosted on a dedicated website.
Online Learning Possibilities
While there are various learning options above, entrepreneurs use online learning in a slightly different way. Entrepreneurs who are not attempting to stack a resume or gain career-specific qualifications will use online courses to create new opportunities for their business or to learn a new business altogether.
With the post-COVID-19 United States reaching Great Depression level unemployment, taking your earnings into your own hands is now more important than it ever was before — it’s time to think like an entrepreneur.
With the world going digital, and the internet bombing as Work From Home (WFH) orders normalize, starting an online business is now easier than ever if you can learn the skills necessary to start, scale, and maintain.
Currently, the most popular businesses to learn and model include online contracting and freelancing, consulting, affiliate marketing, and content marketing.
Unfortunately, most of the subject matter that explores these business models and shares how to implement them, are either private sellers or master classes and with demand, prices have also inflated.
For example, the popular Sales Training influencer Grant Cardone now charges from $97 to $6,500 for his 10X master class and networking event and creative strategist Chris Do now charges up to $389 for courses he provides through his company The Futur LLC.
Though this may all seem discouraging, SkillShare has some highly effective, high-end courses at relatively affordable prices.
Patrick Dang's How to Build Your LinkedIn Profile for Business, Entrepreneurship, Business, Startups, & Freelancers course and Thomas Frank's Productivity Masterclass course are being sold for an introductory price.