While online learning may be the only option during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has long been an option for learners. Today, it is possible to earn certificates, professional development hours, undergraduate, Masters, and Doctorate degrees through a 100% online format.
There are several advantages to taking an online training or degree program, but there are also some drawbacks. Before choosing any online training, it is essential to review the specifics of the training, the degree, certification, or credential obtained upon completing, and the total cost of the program.
To help determine if online learning is the right option for your career path and personal learning style, consider the following pros and cons of this popular option.
Pros of Online Learning
Online learning offers several pros or advantages that are the same for learners of any level or those taking basic or advanced degrees.
- Cost – the cost of online learning is highly competitive, providing reasonable pricing for undergraduate through to doctoral level programs. In addition, certificates and credentials obtained online are often lower cost than in-person classes.
- Time and flexibility – many of the online programs are designed to be highly flexible, allowing students to allocate time to study, access class materials, and interact with their cohort and instructors on a flexible schedule. Other programs may offer specific streaming classes that require live participation.
- Ideal for professionals and busy adults – with 24/7 online access, working professionals and busy parents can find time to study without giving up their careers or having to restructure their life to complete the program.
- Faster paced – several online degree programs offer accelerated classes based on how fast the student completes the material. This can be a significant benefit for those seeking the degree or training to be able to advance their career.
- Use of technology – using online technology allows the individual to access information wherever they have an internet connection. For people who travel or who have atypical work schedules, this is a definite advantage.
Cons of Online Learning
One important consideration for anyone considering online learning is his or her ability to schedule and structure their time. The biggest challenge for many is the discipline to commit to daily work on their courses. Those who have challenges with procrastination or difficulty in organizing and maintaining schedules may find online training daunting and difficulty without some additional support.
- Provider’s reputation – there are online training programs with very positive reputations and those that have limited if any reputation. As with any type of educational program or training, researching the provider of the training is a critical initial step.
- Faculty and course selection – depending on the type of online training, knowing the background of the faculty and the courses offered online versus those on campus is a consideration. Most traditional colleges and universities do not offer all of the in-person courses online.
- Online vs. in-person degree – while this is changing, there is still some negative connotations to an online degree within corporations and businesses. This could present a disadvantage if an online degree is compared to an in-person degree during the hiring process.
- Use of technology – while also a pro to online learning, the use of technology can be challenging for some individuals. It can also be difficult to work in isolation on projects. However, many online programs encourage student communication and interaction through different platforms.
Online learning, like any method of learning, has its positives and its drawbacks. Try a single course and explore how it works for you before committing to a longer program of study.