20 Sep 2020 16:51 IST

Strategic plan to pick the right online course

Flexibility combined with mentoring can give learners an edge in the skill-based hiring process

The demand for professional learning is gaining momentum now more than ever with the industry is evolving by the minute. Skill-based hiring is a top priority for organisations across sectors. This and Covid-imposed lockdowns have compelled the majority of students and working professionals to opt for online learning programmes to stay ahead and get an edge over their peers. According to a recent survey, 94 per cent of engineering graduates considered learning a new skill during the lockdown.

However, with innumerable options, it becomes a difficult task for learners to identify the right upskilling platform and programme. Here are a few pointers for learners looking for the course of their choice.

Mental map

To choose the right upskilling programme, you should first analyse all the career opportunities available in your preferred sector in line with your interests. Define and evaluate your career path, and choose between gaining in-depth expertise in your existing field or explore some other new avenues that can set you up for a different and probably more rewarding career.

Examining credentials

It is extremely crucial to evaluate the programme credentials offered by any edtech platform before making a choice. For example, if you are opting for an analytics programme, it is important to ensure that there is an inclusion of a well-structured curriculum for a better understanding of the subject. Another factor to be considered here is to choose a programme taught by world-class faculty and industry experts. Along with this, the course should also consist of industry-relevant capstone projects that will help you to put your technical know-how into practical application.

It is also essential to explore the kind of exposure a certain course offers before making a decision, such as academic collaborations, delivery model, and curriculum relevancy. A programme co-delivered by a prestigious university helps students to acquire skills by top-notch faculty and gain industry mentorship, making learning extremely practical and interactive. Examining all these factors cumulatively will help you understand the desired programme deliverables, and whether the learning can truly enhance your capabilities and augment your career.

Know the platform

Before finalising a programme, always compare multiple courses in that domain offered by various edtech platforms and choose the one that best fits your requirements. Look at the breadth of their offerings — number of learners on the platform, programmes in tech and non-tech domains, completion rate, and the number of career transitions. It’s best to rely on online reviews and first-hand testimonials and speak to the alumni as well, to understand if your objectives will be achieved through their offering.

Placement assistance

Always understand if the programme offers a robust learning process and placement assistance as it will help you transition into a new role. An important factor to consider while choosing is if it offers peer-to-peer learning and mentored learning. Peer-to-peer learning fosters better academic performances as it allows learners to exchange ideas and work collaboratively. Talking about mentored learning, it is an integral part for learners. Learners will be able to get a realistic overview of the opportunities available and key industry insights which help them in understanding the soft skills required along with the core skills. A programme that combines both peer-to-peer learning and mentored learning, along with placement assistance, not just enhances your skills but also connects you with the best employers leading to a successful career transition.

Payment flexibility

Edtech platforms offer multiple payment options giving learners the flexibility to keep their budget in check so that the money is not an obstacle in the path of learning. Some of the payment options include instalments and pre-approved loans. If you choose to go ahead with a paid course, you must compare the payment options offered by other online platforms as well, so you are aware of the industry standards and can negotiate well. It is also advisable to set aside a budget for this endavour beforehand because investing in education today will only reap greater benefits tomorrow. Being mindful of these factors will allow you to short-list the best online learning programme that fits your time and budget and add value to your life.

(The writer is Co-founder, Great Learning, an edtech company for professional and higher education.)