If you’ve spent any time recently investigating training options for project management and IT subjects you’ll see that there are more and more choices for online
courses. There was a time (not that many years ago for many of us at work) when going to a classroom was the only option for workplace education.
If your last experience of study was in a classroom, you might be wondering whether online training is right for you. Here are 5 situations where an online course is going to be the best choice.
1. When You Are Busy
Are you managing a project that feels like it is 24/7? How are you going to squeeze in time for training?
One of the major advantages of online courses is that you can find the time. Trust me, you can!
I’m taking a self-paced online course at the moment and I’ve downloaded the training material to read offline on my commute. I can fit in 20-40 minutes of study a day, and because the course is broken down into bite-sized chunks it’s really very convenient.
Even when you are totally swamped with work you can find moments to build training into your schedule. Think about:
• Commuting time
• Waiting around time, like the beginning of meetings – you won’t be able to give it much focus but you can hop into the community forums and ask a question or download your next set of course notes.
• Booking a meeting for yourself and your study materials for 30 minutes each week.
Because you can do it in small bursts you might actually find yourself looking forward to it!
2. When Work/Life Balance is a Priority
Classroom courses often involve travelling to somewhere else. I’ve taken courses before that involve a week in a nice hotel. That’s a pleasant break from work, but if you have childcare responsibilities or other commitments at home, it can be difficult to get that time away to focus on studying.
Online training helps you maintain a work/life balance because you can fit it in a time that suits you. Want to work before your dependents get up? You can. Want to maintain your gym schedule? You can. The virtual classroom will be waiting for you when you get back.
3. When You Prefer Independent Study (But Still Want Some Contact)
If face-to-face interaction isn’t absolutely important to the way you prefer to learn, then online courses work well.
Don’t think that going online means that you don’t get any interaction at all. The Association for Talent Development say that this is one of the myths of online training – many people believe that you are left to your own devices when that isn’t true at all.
In fact, you can get one-to-one interaction online through chats with the tutor and other collaboration features. Some classes do offer group forums or spaces where students can chat together. The course I am taking has a private Facebook group and that’s working really well as it helps keep me motivated, and it’s a great place to ask others for help or advice.
I prefer to be able to control my own study time and set my own learning timetable, and I can do that with virtual training but I know I have the back up of a professional company behind me if I have any problems.
4. When Cost is a Consideration
And let’s face it – when is cost ever not a consideration? Because online training providers don’t have the same overheads as traditional classroom-based courses, they can offer courses in more cost-effective packages. That doesn’t mean that the quality of materials is less good. You might even get more for your money because the training vendor isn’t having to spend a portion of your fees on lunches or printing your training manual.
If budget is a concern for you (or your employer, if they are paying for it) then it is definitely worth investigating the pricing options offered by online study.
Pro Tip: Many courses break down into smaller chunks which makes buying the right course at the right time for your career needs even easier and more effective. For example, you could focus in on learning about Microsoft® Project 2013 just before you start scheduling your project, so you can take advantage of software features to make that task easier.
5. When You Need Flexibility
I know I’ve talked above about being busy and maintaining a work/life balance, but sometimes you need a different type of flexibility. For example, if you are about to move house or take on a new job. You don’t want to put off starting a course, but you aren’t 100% sure if you’ll be able to see it through.
PMP® certification training is a good example, and pertinent because you need the training prior to being able to complete the application form for the exam (as it counts towards your contact hours). You might start the course and then find that your job responsibilities change. Or you realize exactly what you are going to have to do to pass the PMP exam and it all starts to look more daunting!
Online course materials are available to you over a long period of time, so if you need to take a break and return to them later, or you just want to spend more time on them, you can. The course I am taking offers me lifetime access to the materials. Other courses – and this applies a lot in professional qualifications where the body of knowledge is updated regularly such as PMP, may only grant you access to the materials for a year or until the next update. Either way, you’ll generally have access to the materials and community for longer than if you went into a classroom for a couple of days.
Even if you have never taken a course in the virtual classroom before, you’ll find it manageable. If you want flexibility and cost-effectiveness, online study is definitely worth considering!
Check out the Knowledgehut online training catalogue to see what you could study today.