The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on education and training. Many companies and colleges enjoyed the many benefits of online work and learning and have integrated them as a permanent part of their structure.
While some degrees and training programs still require in person learning, many allow students to learn remotely—some part time and some full time. Degrees and certificate programs in healthcare, culinary arts, and HVAC are some of the many programs you can complete online.
This article goes over current options for online learning, technology advancements that make online learning easier, and how you can take advantage of online education.
How Online Training Has Changed the Higher Education Space
Because of advancements in technology, online learning courses are now comparable to in-person college classes and certificate programs.
With a good internet connection and a basic computer, you can get a high quality education from home. Online programs not only make your education more convenient, they are almost always less expensive.
Contrary to some old school beliefs, online courses are not limited to computer or writing courses. You can train for many hands-on type careers through an online course.
Programs like Stepful’s Online Medical Assistant Program and Faraday’s HVAC Training Program are examples of online training opportunities that prepare you for a successful career in a technical or hands on job.
There are still some people who consider an online education to be lower quality than an in-person program. However, studies have shown that this is not the case.
In fact, Google launched a number of certificate programs that they now consider equal to a college degree. Many employers are becoming less interested in a college degree, and more interested in basic knowledge and trainability of their new employees.
Completing an online certificate program is a faster, more convenient, and less expensive way to prepare yourself to enter the workforce. On average, in person degrees cost more than twice as much as most online degrees, and that doesn’t include housing or the cost of commuting to and from campus.
How Apprenticeships & Externships Are Making Online Learning Even Better
While online learning is a great alternative to in-person lectures, there are some hands on skills that are better learned through supervised practice. Many online trade programs include externships or apprenticeships that allow you to get hands-on experience in a real-life work setting.
Having an externship or apprenticeship opportunity means that you can complete most of your education online, and then have a few hours or even days to practice the skills you have learned alongside an experienced worker in your field of choice.
Externships and apprenticeships offer opportunities that in-person programs do not. They can usually be customized to fit your schedule and give you an opportunity to work on the actual job site, rather than practicing in a classroom environment during school hours.
There are HVAC apprenticeships, for example, that allow someone with little-to-no experience learn the required skills to be a successful HVAC technician on the job.
Future of Online Learning & Apprenticeships
Throughout the world, technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. As technology advances, the need for in-person learning decreases.
What used to require an in-person meeting can now be done completely online. While there are still some barriers to online learning, recent years have shown that the majority of these can be overcome.
Even small improvements in video conferencing like the ability to share and collaborate on the same screen make a big difference in the at home learning experience. Simple tools like Google Docs allow multiple users to edit and work on the same document simultaneously. Programs like Discord allow students to collaborate and chat with each other in real time.
In addition, many training programs have software that allows you to practice in-person experiences on a computer. Improvements in computer graphics, touch screens, and faster processing speeds make virtual learning experiences seem quite realistic.
Though it may not be advanced enough for a few more years, virtual reality (VR) could potentially make these learning opportunities even more realistic. Using a VR headset can create the sights, sounds, and feeling of really being in the workspace you are training for. Several studies have already been conducted to explore how virtual learning can improve emergency response times in healthcare providers.
Artificial intelligence also has the potential to improve the online learning experience. For example, grading quizzes in real time and giving immediate feedback can help solidify learning. Artificial intelligence can also be used to cater each student’s experience to their level of knowledge, areas of weakness, and learning pace.
Why You Should Consider Online Learning as Opposed to College
Many aspiring college students still picture themselves on campus, attending in-person classes and living in the student housing. However, if you are planning to attend a college or would prefer a cheaper and faster certificate program, it is worth exploring online options.
Online programs are often cheaper and can be completed more quickly than in-person courses. In addition, most online programs can be adjusted to fit your schedule and can be completed from anywhere in the world. Learning online means that you don’t have to move or give up your current job while completing your certificate or degree.
Most employers do not discriminate based on the type of education their applicants received. As long as an online program is accredited, it doesn’t matter much where the learning takes place. For technical programs, choosing one includes an externship or apprenticeship is the best choice.
As technology continues to improve and more courses are offered online, online learning can be a fantastic alternative to traditional in-person college.