Upgrading your skills or acquiring some new ones? Consider some of the options to a traditional face-to-face class when choosing a training course. For some people, studying online can be a big convenience and can end up saving you a lot of money.
Of course, not all online alternatives are equal, so take some time to find out what your choices are. And don’t forget to check out course reviews or discussions about the course on sites like Reddit.
Universities and colleges have been offering online courses for years – and charging hefty tuition fees in the process. More recently, MOOCs have started to turn that educational model on its head! Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are designed with open access and unlimited participation in mind. They usually combine traditional methods for delivering course materials such as videos, recorded lectures, and readings with interactive and collaborative elements such as wikis and forums. MOOCs are generally free or inexpensive, but, although the courses are taught by professors, don’t expect much personal attention from the staff. Students in MOOCs get feedback and/or marks from peers or through self-marking online assessments like quizzes.
It is usually necessary to do a bit of research to find a suitable MOOC. Start with some of the leading providers of MOOCs like Coursera, Udacity, and edX and keep looking until you find one that offers the skills training, flexibility, cost, credentials, format and schedule that works for you.
Blended classes combine the value of face to face learning with the flexibility of completing part of the course hours online at a time and place convenient for the learner.
A quick Google search brings up several local colleges and universities that deliver blended classes in topics such as healthcare, pharmacy, business, technology, and more! Of course, these are not necessarily low cost but they may fit your schedule better than a traditional classroom course. Keep in mind that some settlement services organizations, like ISSofBC, offer free English courses for intermediate or advance level newcomers in a blended format.
If taking a full course is not necessary or possible, check out some of the many excellent free or cheap online tutorials now available through websites such as lynda.com, w3schools.com, or gcflearnfree.org. Don’t forget to search YouTube for videos demonstrating anything from soccer to software engineering!
A Note on Accreditation:
Most MOOCs and online tutorials don’t count toward college or university credit. If that is one of your priorities, you may want to consider a traditional online (or blended) course at an accredited university or college or a MOOC that costs more but offers this benefit.
On the other hand, many MOOCs offer students an opportunity to gain recognized credentials in the form of Open Badges. These digital badges contain metadata with information about the issuer, criteria for acquiring the badge (such as skills learned), and more. Badges are still fairly new, but are gaining in popularity and recognition. You can find more information about Open Badges at openbadges.org.
About the Author: Janis Fair is the Online and Technology Coordinator for the LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) program at ISSofBC where she maintains the student website, coordinates the online courses and manages the ePortfolio component of the LINC for Employment program. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.