It appears the Internet is full of places where you can take online courses. If someone knows more than the average expert, it’s worth money to them to post a class. But are these digital classrooms worth the investment? Depends on what you gain from the experience.
Even though many of these online courses are not academically accredited, they can still be of exceptional value. This is especially true if you’re learning something from someone who has extensive knowledge in the subject.
What Online Courses Offer
Some don’t like the prospect of spending money on an online course simply because of a lack of accreditation. Because a certificate of completion doesn’t display “Harvard,” they would rather not fork over the cash.
However, accreditation doesn’t really mean much in today’s society. In reality, many employers are focusing more on practical experience over education.
As a past employer, I would choose someone with five years experience and no degree over someone who has no experience with a Bachelor’s. This is because of the difference between practical application and being “book smart.”
Don’t get me wrong, education is still a valuable point when looking for a job. Knowledge is instrumental to making sure the job is done right, especially from a freelance professional.
In the past, people were geologically restricted when it came to education. If there wasn’t a decent school in your location, it meant you had to move away from family and friends.
Today, courses in just about any field you can think of are available at your fingertips…literally. A simply search in Google is all it takes to find online courses for nearly anything to your heart’s desire.
One of the reasons why I like the idea of online courses is because most of them will let me complete projects at my own leisure. I don’t have to take time off of work and can learn at my own pace.
Current, Rich Information
If you find a good teacher or professor, you can absorb a great deal of valid and current information. I say “current” as you don’t want to learn something that is clearly obsolete. For instance, you would stay away from a course that teaches you Joomla 1.5 – software that has been abandoned for nearly a decade.
That’s perhaps the most difficult part of finding good online courses. You want to make sure you’re spending money on something that is usable in today’s society.
And for the most part, you will.
I spent a bit of time looking at some platforms to expand my knowledge in writing, both for AP style and fictional. The classes I’ve come across consist of relevant information, which is why I’m looking for the money to enroll in a few of them.
Padding to Your Resume
Even if an online course doesn’t come from an accredited school, it still looks good on a resume. As a past business owner, it demonstrates to me the individual’s willingness to learn more even if he or she didn’t have the money for tuition at a major college or university.
The more information you collect in your field or industry, the more attractive a resume becomes. Even if an employer like myself values experience over education, an extensive list of courses makes the resume shine over those who don’t have anything to back up their claims.
It’s up to the employer to weigh information over experience, and many of them do. So anything you can add to your list of achievements is always a huge bonus.
Prior to 2000, the correspondence courses I completed played a role in landing me a few different jobs.
Increasing Your Value
Any education is better than none at all. And the more you learn, the more valuable you are to prospective employers and clients. Even if you don’t have background experience, knowledge is still key when landing some lucrative positions and contracts.
Many employers will increase the salaries of staff for those who expand their knowledge. In some cases, this is to keep the employees from leaving for more lucrative positions elsewhere.
It costs a great deal of money to train new personnel, especially when considering training and a lack of production value.
From the perspective of a freelancer, having an extensive background demonstrates to a client your expertise. Why do you think many people hang up their degrees and accomplishments? In some cases, it’s a psychological game to reinforce expectations that the individual is indeed an expert.
The amount of information I know about WordPress is the driving force behind why my current client retained my services for over a year now.
Expanding What You Already Know
Never believe you know everything about any given topic. You can find yourself obsolete in a very short amount of time. Technology, social practices and more all play a part in progress across all industries.
For instance, I was quite adept at establishing wired networks and server administration back in 2008. Nowadays, most of the things I was valued for are no longer part of an in-house IT department.
Always expand what you know if you’re looking to land more freelance jobs or find gainful employment. Your college days from 15 years ago are not going to cut it today.
Finding the Right Online Courses
What kind of online courses should you consider taking? That’s really up to your field of study. Perhaps you want to shift gears and go into something completely different.
Personally, I went from CEO of a computer company to a freelance writer. I went to college for computer animation and graphic design. It’s not exactly how I thought my life would evolve.
How should you go about finding good online studies?
Do Your Research
Flashy ads and promises do not make an online course spectacular. Before handing over your money and filling out a registration form, always do your homework. Take a look at complaints, scams and reviews. It’ll help you prepare for what to expect when you join a certain online “school.”
One method of this research involves using the name of the school followed by “complaints,” “reviews” or “scams” in a Google search.
However, don’t simply take one person’s word for the experience. You need to weigh the good with the bad to find a balance of truth. Not everyone will have the same experience, and some people may simply not have the mental capacity to achieve a completed course.
For instance, let’s say a person leaves a negative review regarding an online course you’re interested in. In reality, this person simply couldn’t follow the instructions and failed because of his or her own lack of effort and engagement.
Is this review a good measure of the class? No. Which is why you need to sift through several sources to make an educated assumption. You may have a much better experience than the reviewer.
Compare the Course to Google
Before you admit to an online course, paste the name of the class into Google. Can you find the same information in a search as you will in the course? If so, you may want to save your money.
Even though the Internet is full of fake information, it’s easy to come across valid data and facts if you look. In some instances of online courses, I found the same information available for free in a tutorial section of a website.
You may find some courses to be readily available for free if you collect the information from different sources.
On the other hand, the instructor may deliver the information is a way where you’ll understand better. It’s not just the syllabus that makes a good teacher or instructor. It’s the delivery to engage a student that really drives information into someone’s head.
Consider the Expenses
Lastly, consider the expense when looking at online courses. What will you learn for the amount of money the instructor is asking? This is when comparing the course to Google is beneficial. If the course is $10, it may be worth the investment as it would save you time on a search results page.
In the past, I’ve spent thousands of dollars in tuition to “learn” things I already knew. I wasn’t able to complete my associates, a story for another time, and the information I gained was readily available to me otherwise.
Carefully weigh what you’re getting into. The last thing you want is to drown in debt for something you never use after leaving the classroom.
Taking Education Further
I highly value knowledge in any form. From basic $10 WordPress courses to more elaborate Master Classes, it can all play a part in building your freelance profile. Just be aware of the online courses you’re looking into. Some may be nothing more than copy-and-paste text from other websites.