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Time to go Back to School

Updated on September 11, 2014

For many of us that have children we are back in the groove, helping our kids get into their scholastic routine. Gently or aggressively getting them out of bed and ushering them off into the new school year, reminding them to do their homework and go to bed early so they are rested for the next day.

If you haven’t considered it already, now is a great time further your personal education. Whether you decide to learn more about your hobby, profession or a new area of interest there are several educational courses available online. ELearning has become more robust every year. We are truly in the information age and the possibility to earn certifications and degrees or to learn how to cook a gourmet meal or master a musical instrument are easily attainable with a quick search query.

Let me stop before I expound upon my new found revelation. I have always been a firm believer in the classroom experience. I am not discounting in anyway a classroom curriculum. Personally I believe online education cannot replace the social aspect of attending a school and the physical environment of a campus and the classroom. I believe that online education has the equivalent symbiotic relationship that eCommerce and traditional retail share. Like many Omni-channel retailers, Colleges and Universities have embraced technology and offer several courses online. There are educational institutions that are purely online and others that offer a virtual classroom hybrid model.

If you’re inclined to get out and get educated in a traditional classroom setting I am envious. My schedule doesn’t allow that freedom, even with so many programs that are offered at night and on the weekends. If you are looking at online educational opportunities please consider the following and please note that this is just a taste of the smorgasbord and simple breakdown of what is available.

The following is listed in no particular order and a broad search query for online courses can be found here.

Community College Courses

Community College is one of the best kept educational secrets due to the variety of classes and the nominal cost of enrollment. You can get a lot with only spending very little. If you have lived in your community for more than a year chances are you have past the main requirement for enrollment. Other prerequisites may be need depending upon the individual school and classes so it is a good idea to check on the school's website or speak to an adviser. Community Colleges offer some online courses that may be applied towards an Associate’s Degree or an accredited certification. The courses you take may also be eligible as transferable for credit towards a University Bachelor’s or a Graduate Degree. Many of the courses are structured with weekly assignments and can be great for self motived students with complex schedules.

University Programs

Major Universities have embraced online learning and offer a number of Bachelor and Masters Programs. The cost of these programs vary from each institution depending upon the nature of the curriculum and the status of the school. Most of these Universities require a number of prerequisites and certain graduate degrees require additional testing such as the GRE or GMAT. Many students that are working have opted for this educational experience.

Pure eLearning Curriculums

The development of the internet has created a number of new opportunities for eLearning. More importantly, online education has gained tremendous acceptance over the years. There are several institutions that have no physical classrooms but feature a large variety online courses. Some of these institutions offer Degrees and Certifications and a few of them are accredited. There are several reasons why you may want to choose an accredited program and you can learn more about the accreditation process here. Not all programs are equal and some employers may value one institution over another. Still the opportunities to further your skill set are vast with a pure eLearning educational experience.

Bill Gates speaks about online education.

The Online/Classroom Hybrid Model

Some online courses feature a virtual classroom experience. The instructor presents the lecture in real time using a streaming process and students are able to ask questions during the session. Some of these “hybrid” classes are hosted at facilities that have computers with very high bandwidths or in conference rooms with state of the art capabilities.. New Horizons is one institution that features this type of platform and there are several others that do as well. Some students like this approach since they are able to ask questions while the material is being presented. Another benefit to this model, is there is typically a computer savvy staff member is available to handle any technical issues that may arise during a session. Many corporations use these facilities for continued educations programs for employees and key management.

Online Education Survey

Have you taken or would take an online course?

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Membership Classes

Another way to expand your skill set is through a subscription to an eLearning site like Lynda.com.

For a small monthly fee members have access to thousands of online courses. Typically these sites feature in depth “how to use” courses on applications that illustrate real world simulations. This type of program is exceptional for professionals that need to brush up on their skill sets or quickly learn a new application or software.

Free eLearning Opportunities

There are number of FREE online educational opportunities. Some are sponsored by mega companies like Google and others have been created by individuals that just want to share what they know. Youtube can be a great resource for quick “how to videos” as well as vital search query for online seminars. Many professional associations offer free webinars on a regular cadence. There are several opportunities to get free certifications that some employers are requiring such as AdWords or Google Analytics.

With so many options available it’s time to go back to school.

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