Every so often, I like to bring in a bit of the professional side of what I do onto the blog and I thought I’d talk about online learning, a topic that is relevant to me right now because A) learning and talent development is what I do for a living B) I’m excited to be doing my first online professional qualification, which also explains why I’ve been a little quieter on the blog of late.
Research shows that online learning is growing phenomenon around the world – many reputable educational institutions are taking advantage of the advanced technology that we have access to, to deliver world-class “just-in-time” learning content online.
My journey with online learning:
I must start off by saying that I definitely underestimated the journey and effort it would take. From the weekly assignments, assessments and participation in the online class forums – that ALL count for marks – I was wrong to think I would just cruise through this. I’m really working my butt off and I see the value in finally taking this step! I think I first mentioned my goal of studying further in one of my baby-update posts, so I’m a little bit embarrassed that it’s happening a month after my daughter turned one but hey, the most important thing is that I’m finally making this happen for myself.
There is a misconception that online learning is taking the easy way out or not challenging enough – but it’s certainly hasn’t been the case for me. The course I’m doing has stretched me so much, it is well blended and the content is covered by:
- Introductory module video
- Course notes
- Mandatory class discussions where you have to research, apply your mind to the topic at hand then share your OWN views on the topic
- Weekly assessments (quiz) and
- Weekly assignments
So ya, it’s not relaxed at all. I can honestly say that in 3 weeks, I’ve been challenged yet I feel close enough to the content at the same time, it’s just working very well for me. I understand the work and I have an online tutor to guide me if I ever get stuck. My course content is also broken up into manageable modules, so that means that the content is released module-by-module/week by week. So for a period of 7 days, I focus and get to grips with one specific module/topic before moving on to the next one. In that way, you can’t fall behind on the work and you’re always held accountable.
I’m expected to put in about 7-10 hours of work per week. It’s a lot, so time management skills and commitment are key here.
That is just a little bit of background on my course, but the structure may vary from institution-to-institution.
Benefits of online learning?
- Short and Sweet – at this stage, I wouldn’t be able to juggle my career, family and studying for months and months on end. Online courses are usually no longer than 6 months and this suits my current busy lifestyle.
- Learning happens in your own time, at your own pace – although you might have course work, assignments and deadlines – you determine when you will put the hours in. Making it ideal for working professionals to progress in their careers without having to dedicate full days out of the office. I usually do an hour each night after I put the kids to sleep and then I catch up on the bulk of my course work over the weekend while my youngest one naps.
- Affordability – because the learning is facilitated online, the courses are generally cheaper than face-to-face/classroom based courses.
- Distance is not a factor – your computer is your classroom. I can get a certificate from University of Cape Town (an institution which I’ve always admired) without psychically traveling to Cape Town every week – wouldn’t that be fun? I have classmates from all over the world that I get to interact with and learn from online.
Online learning institutions in South Africa:
- University of Cape Town offers online learning through, GetSmarter, an online education company based in Cape Town and London. They have collaborated with leading universities to offer premium online short courses to working professionals, even outside of UCT. The courses are typically between 8-12 weeks’ long. More info
- Wits University offers career-orientated online learning through their Digital Campus. Courses are 10 weeks long. More info
- Milpark Education offers online courses that are between 4-12 weeks long. More info
I’m sure that there are many more institutions, these are just the ones that have stood out to me – shout out to their marketing teams!
I hope this post has been useful to you if you’ve been considering studying online. If you’ve tried this too, I’d love to hear your views.
Modern Zulu Mom