e-learning

How to Choose an Online Training Course for Professional Development

In a highly competitive business world, every person craves professional growth to climb the corporate ladder. Some people want to enjoy working in managerial roles, while others thrive for lucrative opportunities. Unfortunately, a college degree is not enough to achieve professional growth because you have to earn your way up there. Alongside exhibiting your expertise, it is imperative to advance your skill set and knowledge to keep up with the changing world. Are you wondering how?

Amid digital transformation, there are plenty of options to grow professionally. You can attend webinars, participate in industry conferences, enroll yourself in short courses, or join some training programs. It broadens your areas of expertise, expands your skill set, and boosts professional reputation. From educational training to fintech technology and cybersecurity courses – you are able to choose from a plethora of options. However, defining which choice is right for you can be tricky, but let us help you out.

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Here are some tips you have to consider while choosing an online training course for professional development.

1. Choose the Right Format

Technology is transforming the educational environment with e-learning opportunities. It is proving to be quite impactful since it makes education accessible to people of different age groups. Whether you are pursuing an intensive training program or short course – determine the format. Professional development classes follow various platforms to fit varying academic standards, personal schedules, and learning styles.

Some programs are highly regulated with preset class timings. Professors teach these programs through pre-recorded videos, and interactions are limited to only emails. Similarly, you can look out for online short courses as it follows a flexible approach, allowing you to learn at your own pace. You will also be able to attend classes online from the comfort of your home, which will still include proper participation and interaction.

In this format, you will listen to lectures and submit assignments online with feasibility. Hence, before delving into courses and training programs, figure out which design works the best for you.

2. Determine Your Goals

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Next up, you have to straighten out your expectations from a training course. Do you want to broaden your knowledge in a particular topic? Or do you want to specialize in a particular skill set? Some already have an idea about the topic they wish to study, but others prefer exploring their options. Before you start looking into a course, determine your professional career goals to ensure the training course aligns with it. If you see yourself as becoming a chief financial officer, taking courses relating to the latest financial innovations can help.

3. Select a Reputable Institute

These days, every educational institute is moving towards e-learning, and almost every college offers an online training program. However, it doesn’t mean you should settle for any institute. Once you are well-versed with your future ambitions, look for a school that can take you one step closer towards your goal.

Similarly, if you want to flourish as a finance manager, search for business schools offering courses on cybersecurity, gene-editing, or fintech.

4. Learning Styles & Technology

Fortunately, educational institutes are recognizing the importance of individual differences in learning. Thus, they are focusing on embedding Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles. This gives equal opportunity to every student on the concept that every person learns differently. Therefore, when choosing an online course, make sure it is pertinent to your learning style. From audio, visuals and engagement to interactive conversations – the training course must accommodate different learning needs.

In addition to this, determine how technology is influencing the educational experience. If possible, take a demo class to assess video quality, graphics, and design, as this is the key to student retention. Likewise, see if the website and course materials are accessible on your device. Remember, competent programs offer captions and transcription reports for every online lecture to improve the student experience. Hence, keep an eye on these features before you call the shots.

5. Opportunities for Peer Interaction

Are group projects part of the course? Believe it or not, but professional development is incomplete without collaborative group work. Although e-learning has minimal peer interaction, group assignments can foster a sense of community. Alongside the course material, it will teach you how to network and build relationships with people from different backgrounds. A course with peer-interaction allows you to learn from like-minded peers and widens your horizons. Besides, you never know which virtual group activities bring out the leader inside you, opening doors to professional development.

6. Assess Learning Outcomes

Although you know what you want to achieve from training courses, it is time to consider what they have to offer. Start assessing the learning outcomes of the training courses to determine what skill sets you would learn. Go through the course description and see if the subject matter and practical application aligns with your goals. Likewise, it is crucial to assess the grading criterion. If the course material is highly technical, it should be using self-check quizzes such as a formative assessment, as this puts more focus on learning and practical implementation and not just the results.

7. Narrow Down Your Choices & Start Learning!

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Amongst hundreds of courses, now it is time to start shortlisting a few. Since you are familiar with what the courses cover, check your schedule and see how many you can manage at a time. Nevertheless, don’t overburden yourself by taking numerous training courses altogether because you can always add them to your wish list. As per the eLearning industry, for every $1500 an employer spends on training, they achieve a 24% increase in profit margins.

Most importantly, don’t forget to consider the cost of online courses to see if it fits within your budget. If the program seems expensive, consider saving up as this is an investment in your professional development journey.

To Conclude

These days there are infinite distant learning opportunities. Stay at-home parents are getting higher degrees, while professionals are pursuing short courses for career development. It diversifies their skill set, enhances knowledge, and builds expertise. Therefore, it is vital to do your research before you start a program. After all, these are an investment of your time and money.

7 Challenges Faced by Students During COVID-19

The novel coronavirus has created a plethora of challenges for people worldwide, but a major victim of the lockdowns are the students and learners at all levels. As of March 28, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is reported to be causing more than 1.6 billion children and youth to be out of school in 161 countries. This is close to 80% of the world’s enrolled students. Here, in this article, we discuss 7 challenges being faced by students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Time and Workload Management

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Everyone has to agree to this. Due to the coronavirus lockdown, schedule management and timing of activities has become the task of students themselves. With the introduction of self-paced programs, the onus is now on the student to plan out his/her study and leisure time. Such a plan may be possible for self-motivated individuals, but for those who need regular nudging from parents, it has created a huge problem of procrastination and ignorance.

2. Access to Information and Communication Equipment

Modern day learning is highly reliant on information and communication technology hardware. Such needs of a personal device have created a huge problem for households having shared devices. Moreover, due to the lockdown, even purchasing new equipment has become an uphill task. This results in the online model of education being non-democratic, thus exacerbating inequality. It makes education the sole right of the ‘haves’ over the ‘have nots’. Online education becomes inaccessible to the masses in developing countries, making education an unlevelled playing field. While the rich countries are able to cope up well, the conditions in undeveloped and underdeveloped nations are of mixed type.

Align with this, high-speed internet is still not available even in the most developed parts of the world, leave alone developing nations. With the advent of classes on Zoom, Skype, Teams, Webex etc. high-speed internet is a must for video conferencing. For the rural or developing world which is dependent mostly on mobile data, lack of connectivity has resulted in access to poor quality of videos.

3. Resource Overload Curse

That exists for real. What might seem as a ‘resource’ could simply lead some for more confusion. Although the internet has lots of content which might seem a boon for an avid learner, but with every resource in excess, comes a resource curse – the wastage. Knowledge never goes waste, time does. A quick glance through a book or a classroom lecture on a topic, say, the American War of Independence for a Class 8th student would give him sufficient details for his exam preparation. However, a Google search for the same will flood him with truckloads of information which he may not be able to digest. Instead, he ends up spending too much time on a topic, researching and reading about it beyond the scope of syllabus, thus, compromising on other topics that are part of his curriculum.

With online learning comes the complex world of social media, advertisements, marketing, e-commerce and all the distractions associated with them. A student can easily get distracted. So, a student reading a Wiki page may suddenly wander onto Facebook or Instagram. Such distractions can be detrimental for learning and can result in wastage of time and energy.

4. Lack of Interest Due to Non-Engaging Content

This is one factor that deeply impacts students. Being virtually present in an online classroom and being physically present in the traditional classroom has its own differences. A teacher can engage a student much more effectively in a traditional classroom. Whereas, in an online classroom, the student might lack interaction and attention from the teacher. Online classrooms become more of a monologue, with the content not meeting the needs of the students requiring more engaging and insightful study. Individual’s problems and their understanding can be catered to in a more holistic way through an offline model.
Testbook, an India based ed-tech startup, recently came up with a new concept of ‘live coaching’ in both web and mobile application formats. This concept ensures that a student gets a personal coach to interact with, gain conceptual clarity, solve doubts and to stay motivated and engaged.

5. Lack of Assessments Leading to Poor Learning Outcomes

No education is complete without tests and assessments. Online learning may lack a transparent, competitive and fair means of testing and assessment. The model more often depends on the integrity of students for their tests and assignments.

6. Online vs Traditional Model Debate

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Technology has wrapped itself all around our lives. But for online education vs. traditional ways of learning, technology boon is still a topic of debate. For a student taking online classes at home, he’d surely have a hold on abundant study material from all over the Internet. But, at the same time, the student misses on interaction with other students and does not receive direct attention from the teacher. Motivation is a major factor at play in online learning.

7. Dommed Dreams of Abroad Education

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Due to lockdown, many international universities have imposed restrictions on having students at their campus. All the enrolled students are completing their courses online. Many universities are not providing new admissions to international students. This has raised serious concerns amongst abroad-education aspirants in terms of ROI, placements and their future on the whole. Also, there is a big doubt on how effective an online course would be as compared to a fulltime on campus course. Such dilemmas are stressing out students.

The challenges faced by students in the COVID-19 crisis must be taken as an opportunity to upgrade the current education system. Bridging the gap between monotonous non-interactive, e-learning experiences and regular classroom experience, is the need of the hour in order to ensure effective and quality education digitally. Proper training must be provided to the teachers so that they are skilled enough to use the digital teaching tools efficiently and deliver high quality content. Alongside this, the digital infrastructure must be upgraded to accommodate online learning.