Education has always been a tool of empowerment. It helped those from underprivileged backgrounds realize their dreams and those aspiring for more from their careers upskill their way to the echelons of their respective fields.
Today, thanks to the internet and the wide variety of online education portals, education has become more accessible than it was ever before. The pandemic has only further bolstered the online education sector. What was once viewed as a secondary choice for those who could not make it into leading universities is now the norm rather than the exception.
In fact, a popular online education platform saw a roughly 430% increase in enrollments in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The total number of enrollments? A whopping 69 million!
It is common knowledge that many students and professionals alike opt for online education due to the sheer practicality of these courses. The question is — are these online degrees enough to get their career on the right track? Yes, and here’s why:
1. They offer more flexibility and convenience
Not everyone can afford to take a break for a year or two to study. More so, for students who have to balance work, family, and education. An online master’s degree is an ideal solution. It offers flexible hours so students can study while they continue with their full-time jobs.
They are also more convenient simply because there is no added travel time to and fro from college. Online courses therefore are ideal for the self-motivated and eager learner.
The flexibility of an online programme provides working professionals the opportunity to learn without compromising on their careers and allows them to simultaneously grow professionally as well.
And not just that, even college students across the world are turning towards online courses. A survey by the Babson Survey Research Group revealed that roughly 33% college students were taking at least one course online.
2. They aid growth and offer real time learning
Juggling between work and family isn’t an easy task. Employers recognize this and admire the time management skills it takes to balance all three. In addition, an online course teaches students what is relevant today.
Even students who are not working get to learn from their peers who are already working in the industry. The examples are often real and students can apply their learnings in real time as they return to work the next day.
It also shows employers that students want to grow in their career and are eager to upskill.
Students also grow by learning how to communicate their ideas clearly, building professional behaviour and skills in a virtual workplace.
After all, teachers, just like managers, expect students to write respectfully, thoughtfully, and politely to build a rapport with others and achieve goals.
3. They demonstrate self-motivation and time management skills
All employers expect their employees to manage time effectively. It is never enough for employees to simply be at their desk on time in the morning and stay through the end of the day. The expectation today is to be productive and more merely present.
By successfully earning a degree online, students demonstrate that they can practice time management and are self-motivated.
They are also proof that students can tackle multiple tasks, prioritise independently, and adapt to changing work conditions. Securing an online degree requires a lot of the same skills employers today covet and look for in their teams.
These are managerial skills that students would otherwise develop after months if not years of time spent being part of the workforce.
4. They improve communication and collaboration
Scores of top brands have completely switched to partial or complete remote working as the norm. This includes companies like Amazon, American Express, Coinbase and DropBox.
Big names across industries who are offering any teams that do not require to be physically present at office, the freedom to work from home.
In such a work environment all communications, coordination and collaboration have to happen online.
Exactly like it happens when students take an online course. Whether it’s getting comfortable with online tools like Slack, Asana, Microsoft Teams, SlideShare etc or simply picking up the skill required to master a virtual pitch — an online course sets the base.
Students who study online can therefore develop critical leadership skills by picking up specialized software knowledge, creating efficient processes, and making decisions about the best communication practices.
5. They give students global exposure at Indian costs
Online programmes allow students to take up a course on the other side of the world as long as they can manage their time. This means a student sitting in a small town in India can be part of a class being conducted by top professors from the best universities in the world.
A privilege that he or she may not have been able to afford if he had to travel and cover living expenses. At the same time, students also get to interact with students from all over the world.
Because of the ability to log on from any location, class discussions feature a broader range of perspectives, helping students enhance their own cross-cultural understanding.
Students then not only have the opportunity to network with people from around the globe but can also broaden their perspective and become more culturally aware. An ideal scenario for businesses that have cross-functional teams across continents.
6. They enhance individual growth and critical-thinking
Online classes generally mean students study together but mostly work on their projects alone. While there is a lot of collaboration, online courses increase the chances of each student being able to build on his/her own individual views.
This sort of learning facilitates individual growth and critical thinking. Students are forced to think independently and therefore discover their own independent views.
Critical thinking plays a role in any type of education; however, online learning forces a student to develop critical thinking skills in ways that might not have been practiced in an in-person classroom setting.
This sort of self-paced and self-motivated learning demonstrates to future employers that students have the ability to think critically and overcome any obstacles that might stand in the way.
7. They give students new technical skills
Studying online comes with its own set of challenges and learning. Students pick up small but useful technical skills that add value in the long term.
Someone who has gone through months of online education is less likely to turn to the office IT team for minor system issues, they are more likely to be scrappy with online designing tools and won’t block a designer’s time for small projects.
Overall, it makes students more self-sufficient and turns them into a one-man army – the kind of employee more companies try to hire, nurture and retain for years.
It is clear then that online courses are no less than regular degrees and may in fact even be more useful in certain cases. At the end of the day, it’s not just about how the knowledge is shared but also about how willing a student is to absorb it.
– Article by Dr. Raj Singh, Vice Chancellor, Jain (Deemed to be) University