If you’re seeking an edge on your competitors during this tumultuous period, additional education is ideal to hone your skills and make connections. Here’s an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of online education.
Shifting perspectives in a new world
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reimagine some of our most basic, day-to-day tasks in order to continue to function as a society. Jobs that were once always done in person are now being performed online; we forego the crowding of supermarkets and restaurants for the safety of delivery and homemade cooking, and face-to-face conversations have been relegated to our phones and computers. We are forced to reflect upon our own communities, even as we are unable to see them.
One of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed our view is in the realm of education. Primary and secondary students alike have forgone live classes for videoconferencing and emailing. And advanced online schooling, once considered a niche area, is now becoming a much more appealing option for university and post-graduate students around the world.
Online education programmes are particularly suited for those who:
- need flexibility in their coursework
- are looking to continue their current jobs
- have families to look after
- want an internationally recognised course without having to relocate
Advantages of online learning
An aspect often overlooked by many online courses, but relevant especially after 2020, is that of developing relationships between the students and professors, experts, other students, etc. Collaboration and community are an essential part of the learning process. A solid, defined community within an online course gives students access to:
- Structured opportunities to work with other students, and experiment with various projects
- Significant improvements in collaboration skills, especially in the context of an international cohort and using online tools
- The ability to have one-on-one discussions with teachers, in order to better understand and explore subjects
- Relief from stress caused by technical issues or administrative procedures by having someone available to help
- Engagement and idea exchanges with other students on topics such as how to juggle timetables with work and family, searching for career opportunities, and progress support throughout the course.
Other pros of online education are the following:
- Online education provides high-quality programmes while remaining cheaper. A high-quality online programme is able to maintain the most impactful elements of in-person programmes and offer them in its online instruction. This does not mean a simple transference of coursework; quality programmes utilize state-of-the-art tools and techniques to create unique material specific to online learners. A face-to-face programme is much more expensive than its online equivalent, due to associated costs and money spent on commuting.
- Online learning is more flexible and convenient. Indeed, you have the opportunity to learn at (almost) any time, at your own pace and anywhere you want.
- Distance education can improve your career prospects. Even while working full-time, you can enroll and complete an online programme that can further your career prospects.
- Distance learning can improve your technical skills – To complete an online course, you need to know something about computers because you have to navigate various learning management systems (LMS) and different other programs. The computer skills you learn to finish your online course helps you in all your future endeavor.
Main disadvantages of online education
While the concept of online schooling is a great choice for many, some online programmes can be prone to common downfalls:
- Some online courses are solitary. For instance, Moocs don’t provide the same level of connection and collaboration as in-person courses would. Interaction is usually not a real-time process. Unless direct messaging is enabled, questions for the teacher must be submitted online, with answers typically received later. In a classroom setting, students can interact with teachers more spontaneously.
- Online education involves a bigger workload – Since institutions that offer online courses know they cannot monitor their students effectively, they assign more tasks and assignments. This can be a serious problem for students pursuing a degree while working full-time.
- Access to comprehensive materials and support can be difficult. When online courses are particularly static, all of the material is uploaded onto a single server for the student’s open access, without interactions with real humans. This can be problematic for those of us who need live clarification, technical support, or real-time adjustments.
- Online education requires immense self-discipline – When you are in a classroom, you are expected to follow rules and regulations – which instills a sense of discipline. Without the structure of a physical classroom and class schedule, it can be easy to lose focus and not devote the necessary time to course work.
Although there are online schools which are able to address these issues, it’s important to thoroughly review an online programme’s content to determine whether or not it’s at risk of these downfalls.
How EDHEC Online creates support and community
EDHEC’s online degree programmes are unique in that they are industry leaders in computer-based learning. Coursework is designed with maximum flexibility in mind. Expert professors who teach in-person at our world-renowned international school also teach online and are actively involved in designing courses that are specifically tailored to online learning.
Direct coaching is integrated into all of our courses, with academic mentors available for direct contact on Slack, corporate experts mentoring students’ progress, and admin and IT help desks specifically assigned to address the technical and logistical needs of online students.
EDHEC programmes also implement small, consistent workgroups to allow students to foster close working relationships with each other. All students, from the moment they register, are instantly integrated into the alumni network.
There are certainly online learning disadvantages to be aware of when pursuing an executive education online. An excellent programme, however, can avoid common problems with online learning and soar above and beyond expectations.