During the past decade, while the I.T. industry was silently growing into a $5.2 Trillion market, it is no wonder that the demand for online learning grew at the same rate. Somewhere in the background, there is an ongoing debate about online education. While some question it due to some common misconceptions and credibility issues, others have recognized an efficient way to acquire knowledge and online degrees. At the end of the day, it isn’t hard to realize that the “classroom vs online” debate comes down to personal preference and availability. Those who prefer a classroom setting can get that experience both online and offline but with some significant differences. To find out what setting suits you the best, we need to take a deep dive into online education and revisit the traditional classroom. By taking a closer look, we should be able to find all the pros and cons that come with both experiences.
MyComputerCareer makes online learning easy by offering both an on-site and online training experience. If you are eager to become an I.T. industry expert you can start by contacting us today!
The Two Methods of Learning
Without the internet, there would be no free information, but when it comes to learning and education, everything that is free isn’t always useful. There are many self-taught professionals in information technology today that decided to study online individually and have done so successfully. This approach has some learning advantages because you choose what information you want to trust and how you want to consume it. And since the information is completely free, there are no added expenses, but there are a few downsides that need to be considered.
- Individual learning lacks social interaction
- Most free information can’t be validated so you often end up spending months on the wrong learning material
- Individual online training can be very hard if the information is coming from multiple sources. This can cause confusion and even frustration, with both resulting in lost time and energy
During recent years, certificate programs have elevated classroom training to a different level. By enrolling in an online course, you can enjoy the traditional learning methods but with individual control over your time and money. This type of blended learning allows students to manage their time on their own terms and request more information whenever they need it. Most online programs offer full support to their students, so whenever a problem occurs, you are allowed to reach out and ask for help. Students and teachers have a chance to interact when they feel the need to do so, but individualism is also optional. These are just a few of many reasons online students are constantly growing in numbers. If you do choose to replace a physical classroom with an online one, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Certificate programs require dedication and time management skills
- Discipline and proper planning are a must if you don’t want to spend extra on additional tuition and fees
- Having a learning management system is always a good idea if you want to increase productivity and efficiency
Now that we have the main differences out of the way, let’s have a look at another big factor that tilts this debate slightly in the favor of eLearning courses.
The credibility and validity of information
Taking the individual route and expanding your knowledge through free information online has its fair share of advantages, but the credibility of that information is always under a big question mark. There are a number of amazing online communities that offer seemingly unlimited amounts of information on almost any subject you can think of, but no one can guarantee that this is the information you need. One of the main disadvantages of individual learning online is that you may end up in a loop faced with information overflow. If you aren’t familiar with the subject, it will be hard to figure out where to start, what free guide offers the most precise information, and so on. If you don’t attend an online academy, you are missing out on the student resources they offer, which are the complete opposite to what we just discussed.
With the advancement of the eLearning industry, the learning material has gotten better over time, and there are no signs of slowing down any time soon. The constant competition encourages online academies and schools to constantly filter their content and try to bring the very best and most useful information to their students. Usually, there is an application process that determines your level of knowledge so you can be provided with the most useful material at that time. All of this gives online students a chance to get the very best out of their student experience. By spending less time processing incorrect or irrelevant information, they can even have more time for themselves.
It is easier to work in groups
If you do manage to find valuable and free resources online, you will still encounter a problem we all tend to have – it is just easier to work in groups. Once you encounter a term or lesson you can’t understand, the frequently asked questions section is your best bet. In this type of environment, you can’t expect to get any help or additional information instantly. If you are participating in forum discussions or online communities, sometimes it can take days to get an answer, but there is also a realistic chance you won’t get any response at all. Also, there are no graduation requirements, so it is up to you to figure out when you are ready to apply your knowledge in the real world.
Online classroom learning is a bit different because the students are divided into groups, and if you interact with your group, you can form education partnerships with fellow students. This means that you can collaborate on some subjects that you just can’t work out on your own. Certified courses bring in many international students, as well, so you will have a chance to interact with people from different cultures from all around the world. The biggest advantage of all is that most of the group members will have the same level of knowledge, so with good networking and collaboration, you can boost your productivity and morale even more.
Graduate certificates enhance trust
Whichever side you may be on, online vs classroom learning is non debatable when it comes to landing a job. This doesn’t mean that self-taught professionals won’t have a chance to apply for the same job; it just means that they will have less chance of actually getting hired.
Market growth has ensured that most I.T. job applications get filled out within minutes of their posting. With more online academies and schools, more certified individuals are looking for jobs in the industry and having proof that you successfully completed a degree program is always a plus. While self-taught professionals will be pressured to show their past experience, owning a CV that contains a few graduate degrees from MyComputerCareer may help you skip this step. It is true that companies value experience, but they also value knowledge. And if you spent time and effort on acquiring a certificate from a reputable online school, they will most likely value and respect that. It is clear that I.T. certificates are becoming the ultimate proof of knowledge, and if the market keeps growing at the same rate, you will definitely want to own a few.
Persistence isn’t the same with classroom and online learning
A lack of motivation and determination can lead you down pathways you don’t want to discover. This is especially likely to happen with individual education where you need to find the right information on your own. If that information doesn’t match your preferred learning curve, things may start to become annoying and frustrating. Overwhelming yourself with information that isn’t on the same level as your personal knowledge on the subject is a confusing experience that can make you quit everything or start all over with a completely different source. Not only would you be losing time but the will to continue because without new information, education can become boring and repetitive.
On the other hand, when you chose to attend an online class, your mentors and teachers will try to keep you focused only on the important subjects. Having such an environment helps with motivation and organization because you are constantly provided new information and tasks. In other words, someone else will try to keep you busy and determined to make it to the finish line. It is up to you to stay focused on your goals and professional development.
One more driving factor for determination would be the above-mentioned student groups that keep you included in the learning process, if you chose to join them. This type of interaction can be a very useful tool that helps you stay away from distractions. Even very self-motivated students can get confidence boosts from group activities, and this is something an individual learner can’t expect to have.
“Free” doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for it
Joining the I.T. industry isn’t as hard as many think. A few courses can land you a job in just a few months, but self-taught professionals have every right to expect the same if they are well-organized, quick learners. However, there is a common misconception that free information is completely free. It is true that it is not that hard to access or acquire. However, processing different types of learning material from different sources does take time, and that is a valuable resource you could be converting into money instead.
Many I.T. jobs, such as data analytics, human resources, or even business administration have a determined barrier of entry. It is determined by some industry standards that have been set over time, but people constantly keep forgetting that the I.T. industry is moving forward at a very quick pace. This rapid growth brings changing trends with it, and if you can’t stay up to date with the latest ones, you may find yourself way behind the competition. Individuals who do manage to get educated by going through the free material that is available online will constantly have to check for updates. This is a time-consuming process that never ends, if you want to stay on a professional level and be competitive in the industry.
With career development programs, you don’t have to worry about the relevancy factor so much. Since the courses are created by established professionals, they will know exactly what trends you should know about and which will be gone and forgotten in the near future. By building your knowledge from the bottom up, you will become familiar with the fundamentals and be pointed in the right direction by individuals who are well-informed on the subjects. By having all the right knowledge and knowing all the right tricks, certified professionals will have a constant advantage in the job market.
It is important to have a healthy learning curve
Even if we put all of the mentioned facts aside, we can all agree that a healthy learning curve makes education a lot easier. Traditional classes have still kept their form for that very reason, and in that sense, it is safe to say there isn’t much difference in online learning vs traditional learning. The information and the format of classes can change over time, but nothing can be more effective then step-by-step learning that is provided by online academies and their certified courses.
To be fair, online student life is a lot different than the offline version. By taking certified courses, you are guaranteed to start learning from the very beginning, and you won’t get confused or lost along the way. This is something that isn’t guaranteed, and in most cases, this would be impossible with individual online learning.
For instance, if you want to become a pro in graphic design by only using Google and your spare time, you may be in for a surprise. Experienced designers have left information all over the internet, but very few of them felt the need to talk about the very basics of this profession. If you do something long enough, it is expected that you will forget where it all began, and this is the main reason why individual learners get confused. This is true for many professions, and it is unlikely to change. If these individuals are spending their free time on providing information and don’t have a monetary incentive, you can’t expect them to tell you everything. Without the ability to know where to start and where it all ends, you may find yourself running around in circles.
What path should you choose?
By going through the main talking points, you should already have a clear view of both professional development processes. It is clear that training programs outperform free online resources in almost every aspect, but there are certain benefits to both of them. The easiest way to determine what suits you best is to answer a few simple questions.
Do you feel confident enough that you can stay focused and motivated enough to find and learn new skills through free online literature?
If your answer is yes, then you should probably give online learning a shot. It is important to know that many free ebooks and free courses are just an introduction to a paid service that, most of the time, holds all the valuable information you needed in the first place. Another downside is that most of those courses come from individuals and aren’t approved by an academy or school. This means that even if you pay something extra, you may be getting incorrect information that may become irrelevant at any time.
Do you feel more comfortable learning on your own terms and letting professors and mentors choose your learning material?
If you don’t want to worry about processing outdated information and learning things you won’t need during your professional career, then enrolling in a certified online course could be just the thing you need. Instead of going to the trouble of categorizing and studying all of the information that can be found on a certain subject, you can pay the academy to do that for you. The content is completely filtered and curated by professionals so the students can always get the very best out of their course.
At the end of the day, like with almost everything, it all boils down to your personal preferences, needs, and goals. Taking the individual path can be entertaining and sometimes even fun, but the lack of understanding is always a big factor. If you can’t figure out what is and what isn’t for you, a lot of valuable time can be spent on trivial issues.
Online academies don’t only provide a sense of security, but they also encourage determination by setting clear goals and tasks from their students. If you are bad at planning and organizing a learning schedule, you can always rely on your mentors to do that for you with their own learning management systems.