These days, you can be your own life coach by picking up some practical work skills and qualifications online. Learning this way can be cheap or even free, and you can easily arrange your study time around other demands, such as work and family commitments.
Skills you can learn online
From yoga to coding, international relations to inter-dimensional ghost hunting, or MYOB to micro-economics, you can find an online course for almost anything. You can even find courses dedicated to developing life skills for kids.
It’s no surprise many of the most popular online courses centre on programming, digital media and communications, and data analysis. Teaching, project management and strategic thinking are right up there, too. Australia’s building and construction industry has also jumped on board with Pointsbuild.
A common misconception is that just because online learning is more accessible it doesn’t hold the same value as traditional learning. That’s not the case. As with traditional courses, the kudos a qualification attracts will depend on the quality of the institution and the degree of effort required for completion.
Where to find the best online courses
What if I told you that you could study at the prestigious Harvard University for free? Well, you can!
With the e-learning industry growing at an exponential rate – the global e-learning market is estimated to grow to a whopping US$243.8 billion by 2022 – some of the world’s most highly reputed academic institutions are getting involved and offering courses for a minimal cost, or even free, as part of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) movement. HarvardX, for example, offers free MOOCs on everything from ‘Masterpieces of World Literature’ to ‘Statistical Inference and Modelling for High-throughput Experiments’.
Some online learning providers worth checking out are Australian Online Courses, Open Universities Australia, Open Colleges, and edX. Once you know which skills you want to learn and determine how much time and money you want to spend, the cyber-sky’s the limit.
Benefits of online learning
“Online study puts the education schedule back in the hands of the student,” explains Paul Wappett, CEO of Open Universities Australia (OUA). “As an online learner, you really get to study on your own terms – at a time and a pace that suits you.”
However, it’s not just flexibility and economic advantage that e-learning offers.
“There have been incredible advances in data analytics, allowing education providers to identify study patterns and behaviours and adapt services or course delivery methods accordingly. These sorts of insights are often missed in a traditional lecture setting,” says Wappett.
Techniques such as the use of gamification, content designed specifically for mobile devices and cloud-based Learning Management Systems (LMS) are taking learning into the next century. In addition, technological advances in video conferencing and other webinar tools allow live interaction between students and teachers. Add in social media platforms and suddenly students don’t have to feel they are all alone.
And, according to Wappett, the growing demand for quality online education can only mean it will get even better as time goes on.
“Universities are now viewing online education as a vital part of their teaching mix – it’s no longer a ‘poor cousin’ alternative. That means more time and resources are being devoted to it. And when you combine this with better technology, you see students being offered a genuinely brilliant online experience.”