Are Online Courses Actually Useful?

Snneha Lukaa June 30, 2019

Over the past decade, the education industry has seen a massive disruption in the way knowledge is being imparted, thanks to e-learning. Online courses or distance learning platforms are breaking down the classroom wall via technology and enabling educational access to everyone across the globe. Ranging from university degrees to professional skills to hobby courses, there are a myriad of topics one can learn about, oftentimes for free or at a reasonable price.We’ve taken a closer look at whether online courses actually help in one’s professional career. Below, we’ve outlined a few pros and cons below to help you consider whether online courses are the right format of learning for you.


1. Instant Access: The majority of online courses available can be taken anytime, anywhere. Being able to study from the peace and comfort of one’s home or desired location is a huge plus point.2. Study Material: Well-designed study material in the forms of video, audio downloads, and PDFs are generally provided with online courses. This study material is usually well-explained and easy to comprehend compared to traditional and outdated textbooks3. Flexibility: If you need to take a prolonged break in between your studies or want to speed up the pace of learning, online courses offer this flexibility in how fast or slow you wish to proceed4. Tracking: To ensure you’ve comprehended the topics being taught, online courses often have mini reviews and tests to check your knowledge, progress and completion of the course5. Certification: Most online courses offer a certificate of completion which could make it a value-add on your resume, especially if it is offered by a reputed institute6. Cost-Effective: Online courses that teach many of the same subject matters available at universities or educational institutes are generally offered at a fraction of the cost.


1. Lack of Physical Context: Depending on personal factors and one’s living situation, opting for an online course may not be feasible for many.2. Credibility: Online courses lack the credibility that are held by renowned or established institutes. Therefore, many employers may not recognize them as valid or having any value; the exception being if you have a strong and proven track record of results from applying the knowledge of your course3. Support: While many online courses offer support groups, easy access and assistance from the instructor, some do not offer this option. Therefore, you might not get the additional help your need or have any additional questions and doubts cleared easily. This can also create a lack of commitment and accountability if you aren’t highly self-motivated enough to stick to completing your courseAfter analyzing around 100 Quora answers on the topics related to “Do Employers in India value online certifications?”, we’ve come to the conclusion that approximately 60% of enrolled students believe that opting for online courses was beneficial in their professional lives.

Employees who enrolled in online courses felt that it increased their work knowledge and efficiency, even helped them with job promotion and career advancement. The remaining 40% of course participants think that online courses did not add any significant value to their skill set and career growth.

The 60% of the individuals who were satisfied with happy and felt that online courses helped them achieve their career objects, these were the top 3 courses they picked:

How To Choose An Online Course

1. Requirement: Having a clear set of objectives will help narrow down your choice of an online course. Do you want to upgrade your skill set, or learn a completely new one? Are you looking to get a promotion, change your career path or simply enhance your knowledge?Online courses are basically designed and best for learning a specific skill set. But if your end goal is to get a job promotion then you must consult your employer first, find how much credibility is given to online certifications by the employer compared to regular courses while considering an employee for promotion. Depending on your objective, you will be able to assess to specific skills you need to achieve your goalsIf you’re planning to completely change your industry, then distance learning courses might give you advantage. If you want to explore different skills and learn the basics, then online courses are good options. For in-depth knowledge and a hands-on experience to help make a career change, consider opting for courses from established institutions2. Budget: Most courses are reasonably priced and come at a fraction of the cost than those of most educational institutes. However, there are many pricey courses, which may not necessarily translate to better or advanced knowledge provided. Compare several courses, the curriculum, and student reviews before you shortlist your choices3. Preferred Learning Style: Many people do better in a physical classroom with the added presence, guidance and support from teachers and peers. Keep in mind the amount of time you are able to contribute to learning and completing course requirements. Also, many courses are self-paced so it takes discipline and commitment to make sure you’re on track to successfully completing the course4. Assess Practical Utility: The most important thing you can do when you take a course is actually apply what you’ve been taught. Many people hop from course to course, simply accumulating knowledge and never actually implementing it practically5. Avoid Packaged Deals: A good tip to remember is to sign up for the suitable level of the skill you want to learn (beginner, intermediate, advanced, etc.) instead of going for packaged course deals. This way, you will actually be able to implement what you learn and decide whether you want to go further with the advanced levels.

It’s no doubt that online courses are helping hundreds of millions to gain access to education that was once previously out of reach. With regards to career advancement, our analysis has found that online courses are great for skilled-based courses, primarily in technology and creative fields. For courses related to core domains like physics, maths or MBA, it’s better to opt for full-time courses from reputed institutions as employers give them more importance compared to online courses.When zeroing in on a course, keep in mind the market demand and potential returns you can gain from it. Once you’ve chosen your course, remember that it’s all about applying your new knowledge and getting actual results. You’ll be in stronger position to negotiate a promotion at your existing job or make a headstart in a new career path altogether.

Snneha Lukaa

June 30, 2019

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