The number of online courses available to an aspiring student is increasing every day. Without exaggeration, there is probably no subject that does not have an online version. How then does one pick the right course for them? Unlike picking the right university or the right college, picking the online course that makes sense to you involves a separate list of what-to-look-fors and what not-to-look-fors. Traditional questions and criteria won’t work for online courses and the discerning customer should always remember the following questions.
Is It What You Need?
However ridiculously obvious a course in miracles this sounds, this should always be your first question. Remember, unlike traditional education, online courses cater to specific needs. For example, there is no point in taking a business writing course when all you want to do is learn how to write a resume. It’s both a waste of time and a waste of money. Therefore, you need to narrow your need as much as possible before you starting looking.
How Interactive is the Course?
Since e-learning and online courses are such fluid concepts, you need to make sure that you are buying a course and not a text book. Several companies purporting to be online courses will take your money and leave you with pages upon pages of text. In which case, you’re better off buying a book for all the good it would to for you. When we talk about interactivity, you should look for:
- Do they explain the theory or simply give it to you: Interactive course content involves examples, descriptions, walkthroughs and demonstrative exercises.
- How rich is their content: Look for demos to see whether the course in question has audio and video content that would make the course interesting and fun. There is nothing that says learning can’t be fun and watching an online walkthrough is a lot more interesting than reading 20 pages of text.
- Do you get enough practice: Why are you looking for a course when you could just as easily buy a book? Because a course allows you to put the theory into practice and have a professional check it for you. Courses that don’t offer an opportunity for assignments aren’t really learning avenues; they are merely information givers and therefore, once again, you are better off buying a book.
Does it have a User-Friendly Interface?
A great course might be completely undone if the user has no idea how to work their way through it. Once again, look for a demo that explains the different parts of the course, the interface and shows you how to move around the site and find the resources you need.
How Specialised are the Company’s Efforts?
Last but by no means the least. Is the company focused entirely on the course material or is it just one of 100 things that they do? It’s as simple as considering whether you would take a business writing course from a construction company or from a company that specialises in writing courses. A freelancer sitting at home could well be able to create far more specific content than a multi-billion dollar company. Hence, always study the background of the course creator to make sure that this is exactly and only what they do. If they look at online courses as an additional revenue generator, chances are they aren’t giving it as much attention as they ought to and that would affect your learning experience.
Remember, it’s definitely easier to pick an online course than a traditional college or university. You just need to know where to look and more importantly, what to ask for.