Not all online education is created equal. Just like distance learning programs before it, e-learning programs can vary significantly in quality, so students who do not know how to identify good programs from bad ones could waste time and money failing to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to advance their careers.

Fortunately, the hallmarks of excellent online short courses are clear. Professionals eager to utilize online education to better their career prospects should pay attention to the following attributes of e-learning courses:

The Credibility of the University and Professor

After a professional has worked in the industry for a year or two, some details of education become less important — but the reputation of the school they attended is always critical information. Highly prestigious educational institutions tend to be incredibly selective regarding the students they take in; they want their students and graduates to be the best of the best, so employers tend to have extremely positive associations with job candidates who can boast the names of these prestigious institutions on their resumes.

Similarly, reputation matters when it comes to online education. Professionals and their employers need to trust that the knowledge and skills gained through their online courses are qualitative, and that means considering the credibility of the schools and course instructors.

A Competent Team of Teachers and Managerial Staff

Despite the fact that the e-learning system is quite advanced and unique, it must be supported by a competent team of teachers and highly skilled managerial staff. These two together create their best courses as per the academic requirements of the students and make it possible for the students to get easy access to these courses. Subsequently, the learning process will become maximum seamless, as the technically designed course will have a disciplined schedule, well-thought curriculum and associated thoughts. Moreover, the presence of qualified teachers positively affects the overall critical process of shifting to online education. Hence, a professional learner obviously keeps a keen eye on this important aspect of the matter.

Flexible Lesson Plans

There is no need to be sticking to the old traditional lesson plans when learning online. Professional learners must look for flexible lesson plans offered by the proposed course. Though online students do have the convenience of studying at their own pace, their lesson plans never need to be conventional ones. Rather, these must be according to the specific needs of the course under study. These flexible lesson plans will set the students free to break long topics into the ones coverable within the focused study time. They will never have to struggle with one topic for hours. Flexible lesson plans should always be planned to make things a lot easier and more convenient for professional learners. Moreover, these lessons must be conceptually based so that they may be helpful from the examination point of view.

Retention and Completion Rates

Across the vast industry of online education, course completion rates hover around 12 percent. This is abysmally low; it means that students tend to abandon their online studies easily and carelessly — perhaps because so many online courses offer little value, little structure, little interest, or little support.

Most students are well aware that online education demands more accountability than traditional, in-person school. Still, professionals should expect their online courses to be willing and able to keep students invested in their studies. High retention and completion rates demonstrate that a platform is invested in the success of its students, so professionals are likely to see the benefit by engaging with their courses until the end.

Availability of Student Support

A sense of individualism is common amongst students enrolled in online education, but in truth, all students need adequate support. Online schools should offer various tools for connecting students with each other, counselors and tutors, employers and services that can improve their course access and success. Professionals can contact online education platforms to understand the types of support available to short course students and how they can take full advantage of the services.

Diversity of Course Subjects

No two professionals follow the same career path. More and more professionals are considering the career lattice, which might take them into different business departments and demand vastly different knowledge and skills than they are currently trained for. Thus, professionals should look for an online education platform that can fill any need that might arise during their careers. Sourcing courses from a single platform allows professionals to develop familiarity and comfort in their online classroom environment even as they gain new knowledge and skill for new career roles and responsibilities.

Possibility of Certification

Certification is not always necessary in continued education. In some professions, online courses are simply a fast track to the skills and knowledge professionals need to advance their careers. However, certification can be useful in proving that a professional has experience in certain fields, especially when it comes to in-demand technical skills like cyber security or data analysis. Professionals should know ahead of time whether their online school is capable of awarding certification for their courses or whether they will need another method of demonstrating their newfound abilities.

Costs

Finally, professionals should always consider the cost of any online programs they are considering enrollment for. Many online courses are free, but professionals should recognize that free education might not provide the quality and support they need to make a positive impact on their careers. Fortunately, online courses tend to cost less than in-person classes, if only because professionals do not need to manage transportation and course materials. In some cases, employers might shoulder some of the costs of online tuition, so professionals might inform their employers of their intentions and request an education perk.

An ambitious professional eager to use education to move up the career ladder should not sign up for just any class they find online. By evaluating online courses by the above criteria, professionals can gain the skills, knowledge and credentials they need to make their career dreams come true.