Published by: Julia
The gift of learning is one that carries on giving. When you pay for someone to take an educational course, years later the person you have helped to improve their skillset will still be benefiting.
If you have a student in the family and are currently scratching your head, wondering what to buy them – look no further. Online courses really are the ultimate gift. There are hundreds to choose from, so finding the perfect one is not hard.
Do online courses work? Are they an effective way to learn
Joint research carried out by MIT, Harvard and China’s Tsinghua University demonstrate the fact that online courses are an effective way to learn.
In 2018, two sets of students took the MITx physics class 8.MReVx (Mechanics Review). The group that took it the online, distance learning version scored significantly higher than those that completed the course in a classroom setting.
For motivated students, who want to learn, there is no doubt that online learning works.
Make sure that you choose the right course
There are thousands of courses available online. The vast majority are pretty good, but you will still need to choose the right one. Asking yourself these simple questions will help you to do exactly that.
- Does the course cover the right subject? – You want the course to be relevant to the person you are planning to give it to.
The best way to find out what they are studying is to chat with them about how they are getting on. During the conversation, you might also be able to find out if there is anything that they are struggling with. That gives you the chance to buy them a course that covers that aspect of their subject in more detail. Allowing them to go over things at their own pace and bridge their understanding gap.
- Is it pitched at the right level for the person I am buying the course for? – This is very important, there is no point in buying a beginner course for someone who is studying a subject at university. If you buy something that is pitched at too high a level they will not be able to use it for some time. Too low a level and they will not learn much, although they may be able to use it for revision.
The best approach to understanding who the course is designed for is to read the curriculum or course content page. Reading a few of the reviews and seeing what people on Reddit have to say will help a great deal. In fact, if you ask on Reddit who the course is suitable for, you will normally receive a comprehensive answer.
- How long will they have access to the learning material for? – Never assume that the course you are buying comes with lifetime access. Some are only accessible for a year.
- Is the course properly accredited? – If your idea is to help a friend or member of your family to secure more qualifications, be sure to choose courses that include the right kind of accreditation or certification. Most employers and higher education institutes do not value unaccredited qualifications very much.
- Is any support provided? – Being able to ask questions about things you do not understand is essential. So, it is wise to buy courses that provide students with the chance to get help when they need it. Again, the reviews will help with this.
- Are workshops and projects included to cement learning? – Most of us learn best when we have access to different styles of learning materials.
If you only watch a video, even if you make a concerted effort to focus, a percentage of the information will not go in. Whereas, if you then take what you have learned and put it into action, you will understand it much better. Plus remember far more. So, look for courses that offer workshops or marked exercises.
- Is the course material presented in more than one format? – On a similar note, studies show that we all learn differently. Some of us absorb more information while reading than we do while listening to audio or watching videos.
There are plenty of great courses available that is presented in a video, audio and written format. Coursera provides full transcripts of most of their videos. As well as the ability to download the audio. Many of the professors provide reading lists to broaden their student’s knowledge beyond what they teach.
See Related Article: Why online courses make such good gifts
Where to buy good educational online courses
If you are looking for academic courses online, I suggest that you start with the following ones:
All of these platforms include accredited courses on their platform. They are clearly marked as accredited. But it is still a good idea to go off and check online how well regarded each accreditation is.
Accredited online Universities e.g Open University, RMIT, Royal Roads and Walden are other options. They offer a good range of standalone courses, as well as full degree courses. But, they tend to be more expensive than many of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) providers are, so it is worth shopping around.
We have reviewed many of these sites, so why not take a look around on the site and learn more about which online course provider has to offer.
A few other considerations
Those are the 4 most important questions you need to ask yourself when buying academic online courses. But, there are a few other considerations, which you can find out about here.