Technology has changed most aspects of our lives. Everything has transitioned and can be done online. Hence it is not surprising that learning is also finding its way online. People no longer need to travel distances to learn, and companies don’t need to spend on travel and lodging to acquire skill sets. So is online learning really a boon or does it have a downside?
Every coin has a flip side, and to find out if online learning, is as fascinating as it sounds, is it truly suitable for you or not read on.
Like true optimists lets look at some positives first
- Online learning is convenient and flexible, all you need to gain knowledge is a computer with internet connection and basic technical skills, like how to operate a computer, an LMS system, navigation and ability to manage and report issues if any to the provider.
- You save on travel time, and can instantly start learning. At the same time as a knowledge provider, distance is no boundary, specially in a corporate set up, you can widen your reach across locations and also geographically.
- Online learning allows learners to acquire knowledge at their own pace, they can also build up their own learning schedule, chose where and when to learn. You can multi task and learn while travelling, or in lean pockets during the day.
- Online training is very cost effective, specially as far as corporate training is concerned, no travel cost. Some sophisticated LMS systems also adapt instructional designs mechanisms to factor and reach all behavioural types of learner preferences. It’s a combination of audio, video, and experiential learning methods that are put into designing a course.
- Self-paced or instructor led, both forms of eLearning gives ample opportunities to receive feedback and hence to a great extent learning is instant, as there is a learner buy-in.
Since human intervention is reduced, the conventional theories of instructional designs and methods are absent, which could lead to certain precincts.
- You are in it on your own, at least for the most part of it, so although online learning is flexible and convenient, it is not as engaging as a classroom environment will be. Although doubts can be cleared, especially in a virtual set up, however, due to the barrier in communication, the essence could be lost, this could make one feel confused, and lack of support might take you away from the learning opportunity.
- A virtual classroom or a virtual environment cannot give the support that actual human face to face interaction can. So the learning over online portals might occasionally seem impersonal.
- After a day long investment at work, to sit in front of the computer and learn could seem daunting.
- Taking up an online learning course requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation. Remember, some people need constant supervision to adapt a skill set.
- Online learning gives the control of learning to the audience, it sounds good, but sometimes not very effective. As there is no control on identifying that the learner is actually going through the material as required, there is always a risk factor that one could have gone through the material without dedication.
So while designing or choosing between traditional online learning options, consider, do you have what it takes to take the course to completion.
Online courses, if designed with passion, creativity, talent, time, knowledge, great communication skills, and above all ingenious incorporation of the course content with conventional instructional design methodologies, will have great results and will easily outweigh the limitations. Evaluate and begin learning!