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Certifications Online or in the Classroom: Which is for You?

James Palinsad March 14, 2013 0
Certifications Online or in the Classroom: Which is for You?

What isn’t online these days?

Your business is. Your music is. So are the publications you read.

And the movies you watch. Ditto your other hobbies. Not to mention your friendships.

It only makes sense that education has found its place in the interconnected digital world. You’ll find online compliance and certification courses for engineers, computer technicians, real estate and insurance professionals, cosmetologists, and many other professionals. Colleges and universities are getting in on the action, too. Even prestigious Ivy-League schools are retooling some of their programs for the new models of online education.

So how does online education stack up to traditional classroom education? Let’s look at three factors: Cost, convenience and effectiveness.


The sad fact is many Americans think higher education has become too expensive. Many also believe that a college degree will not yield a good return on their investments once they graduate. These days, although colleges are offering credit towards degree programs via online courses, the fastest-growing trends in online learning are in career training, certification, and continuing education.

The relatively low cost and the potential for better pay are driving these trends. Online education offers thrifty working students a massive discount—as much as 95 percent off the cost of traditional education for some courses. The biggest savings comes because providers of online training don’t have to maintain a brick-and-mortar building.

Materials are also cheaper with online courses. Expensive textbooks are just one example of course materials that, once digitized, can be easily and inexpensively distributed. Students who learn online also don’t have to pay the costs associated with commuting to and from a school or training facility. It takes cash to keep a car running, as you already know.

Another cost consideration is financial aid. Scholarships and other aid aren’t just for traditional colleges any longer. Qualifying students will find tuition assistance and other kinds of financial aid in just about every online training program imaginable.


Besides being cost-effective, online education often lets students set their own hours for training. Because online training usually involves modular learning, students can complete their coursework in fewer long sessions or more short sessions. How long they have to complete a given program varies from program to program, but they usually aren’t bound to the timetable set by an instructor.

Most people are more productive at certain times of the day. If you’re enrolled in an online course, you can do your work during the times that are best for you. Compare that with a night class at the local community college, where working parents (at the end of a long day) are nodding off and unable to focus on what the teacher’s saying.

As mentioned above, students also can choose where they attend class and often have the option of completing their studies at home. With this convenience comes a lot of responsibility. A student has to manage his or her time and know when to buckle down and get the coursework completed.


Many people are surprised to learn that students online academically perform just as well as students in traditional classrooms.

A crucial component of training success is having active discussions with peers and teachers. As online training has developed through the years, this kind of interaction has become more and more a part of online education. In fact, students often find themselves interacting with others in their field all over the country and abroad.

In addition, industrial training programs can be easily updated to conform to the latest industry regulations and legal changes. Those textbooks and slide shows you get in a classroom might be a few years past their prime.

The effectiveness of any online program, of course, depends on the instructor. Without a leader to guide the students, the program is without direction. Students need to feel that someone is monitoring their progress and encouraging them along the way. Otherwise, many of them may not have the motivation to see each lesson through to its completion. So if you’re considering an online course, first find out if your training will be led by a qualified instructor and, if so, how available to answer your questions he or she will be.

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