E-Course Pros and Cons | Are they a good study option for you?

In a recent blog we explained the concept of e-courses and what you can expect when you sign up for one. In this blog, we take an objective look at e-courses by examining their pros and cons to help you decide if learning via e-courses is for you.

The Pros

Convenience – in today’s busy world where we’re trying to fit what often feels like a hundred things into our day, the biggest advantage of taking an e-course is convenience. You don’t need to alter your weekly schedule to accommodate class attendance, rather, you fit study in to your existing schedule. For example, some people perform best in the morning (usually after a coffee!) whereas others could be night-owls and prefer to study into the late hours. You decide and you are in control which means you are more likely to learn efficiently and get the maximum benefit from the course.

No travel time and cost – coupled with convenience, the nature of e-course delivery means that all you need is an internet connection and a laptop. This means no time spent traveling and no money spent getting to and from classes.

Budget friendly – low overheads means training providers can offer the courses at affordable prices, making them more accessible than university degrees, masters and other higher education qualifications.

Flexible – many courses allow you to pick them up and put them down when you have time. Once you’ve signed up, the content is there for you to access and work through at your own pace without being bound by set study times and deadlines.

Faster delivery – at a time when change is faster than ever, a key advantage of e-courses is that they have quicker delivery cycle times than traditional classroom-based lessons. In fact, research indicates that e-courses reduce learning time by at least 25 to 60% when compared to traditional learning because:

it does not take as long to start and wrap up a learning session;

students set their own pace, rather than the pace of the group; and

students can focus on elements of a course that they need to learn and go back over content that they feel they need to spend more time on.

The Cons

Self-discipline and motivation – e-learning requires a high level of self-discipline and motivation. Some people thrive learning this way, but others struggle to keep focused and maintain the motivation that they first had when they signed up for the course. Students who fall into the latter category sometimes do not complete the course and their investment becomes a waste.

Solitary experience – the nature of e-courses means that students usually study alone and do not have other students to discuss the course content with. Again, some people don’t mind this but others prefer to feel more connected to others and find this connection a useful tool to stay focused.

No face-to-face tutor contact – similar to the desire to have contact with other students, some people prefer to have face-to-face contact with their tutor, or learn directly from the tutor in a classroom setting.

Technical know-how – Some training providers may not think about the student experience when designing the e-course user experience. Consequently, the online learning systems used to deliver the course can be clunky and difficult to use. Students may get frustrated with this and lose interest as a result.

Inflexible – e-course resources tend to be in recorded video format and once those are done, it’s a time-consuming process to make updates to the content, so training providers may only make updates once every 6 months or annually.

Weighing Up Your Options

So now that we have outlined the key pros and cons of e-courses, how do you decide if e-learning is a good option for you? To help you decide, let’s look at some student personality types:

Type A

  • Highly motivated
  • Highly focused
  • Ability to fit study in, regardless of work or family responsibilities
  • Good time management and sets structured study times
  • Prefers to study alone
  • Comfortable with online learning systems / navigating online content

Type B

  • Bursts of motivation but a tendency to lose it
  • Bursts of focus but a tendency to lose it
  • Manages to fit study in alongside work and family responsibilities but finds it difficult
  • Sets structured study time frames but does not always stick to them
  • Likes to study alone but also thrives on student / tutor connection and likes to feel part of a community
  • Comfortable with online learning systems / navigating online content

Type C

  • Motivated but struggles to focus outside of a formal classroom setting
  • Has a busy work / family life and finds it difficult to find time to study
  • Feels lonely and disconnected when studying alone, prefers face-to-face learning and interaction with students

A type A personality would be the ideal e-course learner. Type B’s would also do well but they would have to be aware of their ‘red flag’ areas and put personal systems in place to manage those. Type C’s would not do well in an e-course learning environment and would be better off trying to find face-to-face workshops to attend.

So which personality type are you? And if you have taken e-courses before, what was your experience like? Comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts!