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Online education: an alternative education pathway

By Jana Angeles

It can be tricky to make a decision on what to do post-graduation. You may be on track in heading to university but are still weighing your options. Depending on where you want to specialise, you may be after a learning experience where there are more practical elements that are key for the future role that you desire. 

With the impact of COVID-19, university classes have transitioned to online but the student experience between university and a VET course still has their major differences.

If you compare the delivery modes between a university and VET course, university has more of a traditional approach to learning where it is more focused on research, theoretical concepts and the simulation of real-work experiences. 

When you compare this to a VET course, individuals are drawn towards this method of study either through its convenience of delivery mode (online learning) or the practical components of the course whereby the skills and knowledge developed can help them secure their desired career outcome. 

There are plenty of reasons why students opt for a VET course. According to NCVER, they collated the following data on VET Graduate Outcomes in 2019, outlining the main motivations for students undertaking this education pathway:

  • Get a job (37.5%)
  • Develop or start own business (6.8%)
  • Try for a different career (11.0%)
  • Get a better job or promotion (7.0%)
  • Requirement of job (13.9%)
  • Gain extra skills for current job (15.7%)
  • Further study: Get into another course of study (3.6%)
  • Personal development (11.3%)

You may be wondering what it's like to explore other alternative education pathways, so SkillsTalk provide a breakdown on the benefits of online education and if it's a suitable way of learning for you. 

Benefits of online education

students studying

There are plenty of benefits that come with online education and the following mentioned below may provide you with more clarity on whether this mode of study aligns with your professional goals.

1. Flexibility.

A great benefit of studying online is that you get to study anywhere at any time. If you don't want to compromise your work schedule and other commitments, you have the flexibility of being able to choose a time when study suits you. Having easy access to your course means that you can pace yourself with your studies. You also have the luxury of being able to study in the comfort of your own home.

2. Cost-Effective.

University qualifications are generally more expensive than online courses. They are longer than a standard diploma or certificate and students have access to exclusive resources needed to complete the qualification successfully, which explains the higher course fees. Depending on the industry you work in, a university degree may not be required. Online courses are cost-effective and take less time to complete than a university qualification. 

3. Networking opportunities.

If you've spoken to someone who has attended university, you may be aware of the social aspect that comes with the student experience. From joining various clubs to participating in activities that reflect well on your resume. However, a common misconception is that online courses do not have the same networking opportunities as a university degree. This is not necessarily true and it totally depends on who is delivering the course.

At Upskilled, there are online groups available for you to network and chat with people who are doing the same (or similar) course as you. This allows you to ask questions regarding your assessments as well as impart knowledge to others, too. This is an avenue where you can network with other people during your course.

How do I know if online education is right for me?

young asian woman studying

While online education promotes flexible learning, it's not for everyone. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to the way you study. As with any form of education, you need to be committed and highly motivated to complete an online qualification. These are some signs that indicate online education may be right for you:

  • You enjoy a lot of autonomy when it comes to your learning
  • You want to upskill but are unable to alter your work schedule
  • Your lifestyle has certain demands you need to uphold, like looking after young children.
  • You know how to effectively manage your time
  • You have prior knowledge and skills that can help you
  • You have a lot of self-motivation

Learning comes in all forms and online education is well-suited for a typical busy professional. It's worth keeping in mind that Upskilled does have short courses available to those wanting to build their knowledge in a particular area. They provide a great sample to those who are still undecided on whether they should study a full qualification online. 

One of the drawbacks of online education is that if you lose momentum in doing your assessments on a consistent basis, you can fall behind and are likely not to complete the course within the expected time-frame. If you prefer a structured way of learning where you need to attend lectures and tutorials, university or a course with face-to-face classes may suit you better. 

Embrace a more accommodating way of learning with Upskilled

Upskilled has plenty of online courses available in business, community services and IT. If you're someone that is highly motivated but don't want to compromise your current work schedule, online education may be right for you. 

One of the advantages of learning with Upskilled is that you'll get the opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge at a time that suits you. Get in touch with their education consultants on 1300 009 924 and enquire about a course today. 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2018. Content has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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