Are Online Courses Still Worth it to Stand Out?

Covid pandemic has changed how education courses are being delivered to hundreds of millions of students around the world. With schools, colleges, and offices going online, all of the students and professionals embraced online cohort-based live classes and self-paced online courses. Now, hybrid learning has become a norm where students are attending in-person classes but also taking many classes online or as self-paced online courses and MOOCs. Online classes and courses are opening the doors of re-skilling/up-skilling and bringing world-class education to billions of students and young professionals worldwide. 

Advantages of Online Education

Education has always been about 3 things for students and parents. They are

  • Access to world-class educators, learning environments, and research
  • To be part of an environment that enables learning from a diverse body of students
  • Association with a powerful college brand and alumni network.

Online education definitely enables students to get access to world-class learning and educators. They do not need to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to go abroad for 3 and 6-month certifications.

Limitations of Conventional Education Set Up

Limitations of traditional or conventional teaching methods have given rise to many platforms that offer thousands of online certification courses. In the past decade, we have witnessed a massive boom in the creation of new jobs which means individuals are more interested in exploring their areas of interest and learning new skills than ever.

Traditional teaching methods not only are very expensive but also not widely accessible. Demand for education and knowledge has motivated many players to start a platform that offers courses across almost all fields and is affordable and accessible to everybody. Coursera, Edx, Udemy, and skillshare are some names that must have crossed your eyes at least once as they are some of the best platforms used by students and job seekers.

As these online education platforms and their courses are getting popular many have doubts about their credibility. In this blog, we are going to discuss exactly how understanding all the aspects and workings of the online certification courses determine for ourselves the value these certifications hold.

Cohort vs Self-Paced Courses

The modern era of online education kicked off around 2008 with the launch of the first MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

Pioneered by elite universities like Harvard and MIT through the EdX platform, and Stanford through Udacity, they brought courses already taught offline into an online environment. The main challenge they had to overcome was “How to get content online,” and they solved it by converting traditional course materials into digital form and delivering them over the Internet.

MOOCs launched with great fanfare and breathless press coverage. TIME dubbed 2012 “The Year of the MOOC,” pointing to examples like Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, a MOOC taught by Sebastian Thrun which had over 160,000 students enrolled.

The goal of MOOCs was to reach students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to university-level education. They seemed to offer people around the world the chance to learn on the Web for the first time.

Cohort-Based Learning

Known as “Cohort-Based Courses,” or CBCs, this is the first truly Internet-native form of learning. It is the first to tap into the essential nature of the Internet: that it is open-ended and interactive.

Cohort-based learning is a collaborative learning style in which a group of individuals advances through an educational program together. 

It’s typical for traditional, on-campus programs to use a cohort learning model. In high school or college, for example, many—if not all—of your classes likely used cohort learning. You and your classmates completed the same assignments, adhered to the same due dates, and studied material together.

The cohort learning model is also used in online learning environments. In this setting, you complete an educational program with your peers in the same way but watch lectures and complete assignments online, instead of in person. 

Let’s talk about the advantages 

The convenience and accessibility of online courses are what make them so popular. In a conventional sense, your classroom and teacher are available almost forever.

A little downside to this is that your excuses for missing classes won’t work! If you want to learn something new after school or upskill yourself to get a new promotion but you only get the time after work, your classes are just a touch away from your fingers.

Top universities worldwide are offering online courses that you can be a part of from any location, this is good news for those who have the will to learn but can’t go abroad due to any reasons.

Online Learning Demonstrates Motivation and Geneuine Passion

Online learning promotes active learning. If you are someone who fears asking questions or getting doubts clear in a classroom then online education is the one for you, it gives you the liberty to reach out to your teachers across various mediums which can be group chat, personal text, or email. So, whenever you find yourself in doubt or stuck on a specific topic you can reach out to your teacher at your convenience.


Meeting new people is the fun part of online classes. You can get in contact with someone who shares the same interests as you or someone who works in the same field and better improve the learning experience. One way to reach out to people is through chat rooms that many of these online courses have, even after learning if you are lucky you never know you might get a friend for life.

Life-long Learning

Life-long access to online classes means that you can get back to learning if you forgot something or you become interested in a certain topic in the future. Most online certification courses come with lifetime access which can be confirmed before you join. 

Cost-Effective Approach

One of the best characteristics of online courses! The cost-effectiveness. Learning something new has never been this affordable, ever. Comparatively,  the cost of online courses is a fraction of what traditional courses cost. Most of the courses on these major platforms cost just about $10 – $20 or even less than that in some countries. There’s nothing stopping you from learning. 

Certifications help students and young professionals show colleges and companies that they are using available opportunities to develop, learn, and re-skill. They also provide an opportunity for students to learn at a low cost and develop new skills, especially in the fast-changing area of technology, data sciences, and biosciences.

Disadvantages, are there any? 

High Drop Out Rate

Procrastination is made easier with online courses. Unlike traditional courses, there is no one to tell you what and when should you be doing things, this makes it difficult for individuals who aren’t very self-disciplined to complete the course in time. This is not as much a flaw of online courses as it is of human behavior; you can get over this by firstly choosing the right course, going through sample lectures and the coursework to check if you find it interesting. Learning to manage your time is very essential, setting up a time for studies and assignments and not letting other activities interfere can help you get through the learning process just fine.

Lack of Peer-to-Peer Interaction

All of us are used to the classroom experience of learning, attending online classes can make you sometimes feel isolated. The silver lining here is that this is not a problem many courses have; interactive classes, community-based learning, and active participation are included in many courses. This information is usually available in the course description and you can check it out for yourself when selecting a course.

Requiring you to be an active learner and finding your own path to learning is something online courses demand. This can be dealt with by taking it on as a challenge, it might seem difficult in the beginning but once you get comfortable finding your own way that will benefit you all your life and also inculcate a habit of learning activities and not just study only because someone else tells you to do so. 

The only note of caution is that participants should not take courses blindly if they are providing certificates. Before signing up for any online program and course, think hard about what the course is all about and if taking the course is of interest to you. While companies and hiring leaders look for certificates, they look more for a student or candidate’s skills, understanding of concepts, and aspirations.

Should You Include Online Certificates in Job Applications? 

Short answer Yes! including online certificates can be a great display of what you bring to the table. Online certificates can help you stand apart from other candidates and portray your personal commitment to getting better. 

Conveying what you can do for the company can sometimes be difficult, including specific courses make the picture much clearer but listing only relevant online course certificates is important.

Conclusion: Are they worth it? 

Absolutely, the amount of value these courses provide for the price is incomparable to any other option. These courses have helped individuals get their first-ever job, get a promotion by upskilling themselves or just become a better person by learning a skill. 

Go for it!

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