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What Is Online Learning?

The online learning industry is growing rapidly with a whole range of courses on a wide range of topics including personal development, business, technology, education and leisure pursuits and interests. Online courses can be purchased from online course learning platforms who host courses from a wide range of instructors, from educational establishments or directly from an instructor's own website. They can also be accessed in the workplace where companies have their own in house online courses or buy into one of the online course learning platform's courses.

Since diversifying my business into producing online courses in the last couple of years I have noticed that the general awareness of online learning is very low. I therefore thought I would provide you with some more information about online learning so you can increase your own awareness. It may also encourage you to try an online course if you haven't already.

Here is some information about online learning that you may not already know:

What is an online course? An online course is a series of lectures available on a web browser or mobile device which can be accessed any time anywhere. You can watch the course at your own pace in your own time and there is no requirement to watch the whole course at once. The lectures are normally short videos in a variety of formats ranging from film video or the lecturer presenting to animated slides or screen casts. Online courses can be from one hour to many hours in length depending on the subject (e.g. a web development course may be 20 hours long whereas my personal development courses are 1 to 2 hours long). Online courses can be on any topic that somebody wants to learn about.

Why would you take an online course? You may choose to take an online course in order to access some information quickly (e.g. how to calculate your income tax liability) or to solve a current problem (e.g. to reduce your stress). You may want to take a course in your own time, maximise your commuting time and learn on the go or learn after work in the evenings or at weekends. You may want the flexibility to watch the online course at your convenience rather than at pre-set times. You may want to learn something via an online course as part of your education (e.g. Economics), to advance your career (e.g. website development), as part of your lifelong learning (e.g. how to be more productive), to keep abreast of new technology (e.g. cloud computing), to improve your business (e.g. how to get more sales), to develop a leisure interest (e.g. guitar playing) or where you don't have formal qualifications to access formal education or when you want a cheaper option to an in person training course.

What are the benefits of online learning? The benefits of online learning include learning at your own pace, being able to learn topics where formal in person training courses don't exist, the flexibility of learning when and where you want and at your own pace, being able to choose courses that match your learning style, online courses are more accessible especially for people who live away from the big cities and the cost is usually much lower than more formal education and training courses.

What can you learn about through online courses? You can learn virtually anything through online courses including personal development (e.g. self awareness), career development (e.g. interview techniques), your profession (e.g. accountancy), your professional development (e.g. leadership), technology (e.g. data science), your business (e.g. strategy) and interests (e.g. politics) and leisure pursuits (e.g. cake decorating). The list is endless!

What are the differences between online learning and classroom learning? There are many differences including online learning is usually cheaper than classroom learning, online learning can be at your own pace, in your own time and at your convenience, whereas classroom training is usually less flexible and at a set time and place and online learning covers a much wider range of topics than classroom learning. Other differences include online learning may have less interaction with your fellow students, although online forums are helping with this, there may be more accreditation and certification of classroom based courses than online courses and you may get more student/instructor interaction in classroom learning than online learning. Like anything else it is finding what learning works best for you whether this be online, classroom, reading a book or a mixture of all three.

Where can you purchase an online course? Online courses can be purchased from online course learning platforms who host courses from a wide range of instructors (e.g. Udemy), from educational establishments (e.g. universities) or directly from an instructor's own website (e.g. the Makin It Happen online course website).

Hopefully this article has expanded your knowledge about online learning and maybe even tempted you to try an online course in the future.

Author: Liz Makin
Published: November 2019

Through Makin It Happen - Coaching, Mentoring & Stress Management, Liz Makin provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals. If you are looking for a business coach, business mentor or help with stress please contact Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk to arrange a free consultation session.


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