Online learning has quickly become a popular tool for people to up-skill themselves.

The rise of digital education for example has seen more than 81 million students being enrolled in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) since the beginning of 2011, according to a report made by Class Central.

Part of online learning’s growing numbers is the fact that it gives you the option of not putting your job on hold to pursue your studies, and allows you to do both simultaneously.

In South Africa one of the biggest online learning platforms is GetSmarter, with the company noting that online learning provides a worthwhile option for those who want to ensure their skillset is relevant.

“We have to recognise that the educational need of modern working professionals have changed, modern careerist now have to become lifelong learners if they wish to stay relevant and advance their professional ambitions,” says chief academic officer Rob Paddock.

To give you a better understanding of online learning, we’ll be running through the pros and cons that this form of education holds.

Things to consider before signing up

You will need to have access to a computer and have an internet connection to be able to pursue an online qualification or certificate, so it’s important to ensure you have the hardware and setup to complete your studies.

As a student you attend a class via a web portal, and complete your assignments according to the schedule that the course coordinator has laid out. This means that learners need to be self-driven in order to stay on top of their studies.

Some online courses lack accreditation, so it is important research carefully the institution you are planning to register with to make sure that it is registered, recognised and accredited.

Pros of online learning

  • You are able to watch and re-watch a lecture as often as you like, making notes and asking questions according to your own schedule.
  • You can study in the comfort of your own home, office or anywhere with an internet connection.
  • This type of learning will give you bonus points for your resume as courses are short and don’t take years to finish.
  • There is no pressure from lectures and students because there is no face-to-face interaction.
  • You may be able to choose from a wide range of programmes that suit your lifestyle and working schedule.
  • You will be able to gain experience and skills sets that are compatible with the career that you are in.
  • You can communicate with someone from the opposite side of the globe and gain more opportunity for growth.
  • You can immediately update your resume to reflect your qualification, because online learning provides immediate feedback.
  • You are able to study at whatever age group you might be.

Cons of online learning

  • Some programmes do a poor job with the logistics of online courses, such as insufficient audio or video feedback.
  • You may encounter inconvenient or hard to use tools to access learning material.
  • Not everyone has stable internet access or computers that support online streaming.
  • You may find it hard to get motivated or organise yourself if you are not used to studying alone.
  • Online learning can sometimes be isolated, as there are no face-to-face interactions with other students or the lecturer.
  • Some of the material may take more time to download and require more space from your hardware.
  • You will not receive instructional support from the lecturers, which requires more attention to detail on your behalf.
  • Sitting in front of a computer for hours may have some impact on one’s health such as back problems and eyesight problems.

Local institutions offering online courses

University of Cape Town
University of Witwatersrand (Requires under graduate degree)
University of Pretoria
University of Free State (Requires under graduate degree)
University of Johannesburg
University of Stellenbosch Business School
Intec College
College SA
Oxbridge Academy
Rosebank College
Milpark Education
Lyceum College

If you are considering of acquiring a new skill through online learning, we hope that this information has made it easier for you to be able to take that big leap towards advancing your career.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]