Want to upskill? Go online

Online learning is designed in such a way that the professional can bring his or her new learning to work immediately.
Highlights: 
The demand for professionals with six to 12 years of experience remains as strong as ever, but employees with such experience consistently need to add to their skill sets to stay up with the changing times. 

Today, the economy and the information technology sector is witnessing a significant amount of growth. With a contribution of nearly 7% towards the GDP, the technlogy sector is a vital cog in the professional and economic sphere.

An interesting observation here is the increase in the demand for niche courses, and it is surprisingly high in tier-two cities. What does this imply? That Indian learners have only been waiting for a viable learning option and have clearly found it in online education? There is no denying that online education is a growing trend and is creating opportunities which were never explored before.

Improving is must

Today, the option to upskill is no longer an option, but a need of the hour. There is a clear movement towards skilled talent in India. The job market is fierce and does not hesitate in giving lesser challenging projects to experienced professionals who are reluctant to keep pace with the growing momentum towards upskilling.

Upskilling can be attained in three ways: on the job learning, campus education and online executive education. While you are considering which of these three ways is most suitable for you, keep in mind some of the key features of each.

On the job learning provides opportunities to work on projects where you can learn new skills. The other option, campus-based education can prove to be a good option to learn evolving technologies and enhance employability, especially for evolved professionals with the dedication and motivation to take a full time or part time programme. It is important to note that professionals look for more than just training; they also expect better networking opportunities and bringing their learning to work almost immediately.

And, there lies the secret of online learning. Recent studies have shown that online learning is growing at a fast pace and has many students registering for a variety of learning programmes. What is so attractive in it, you ask? To begin with, it is about being progressive. The demand for professionals with six to 12 years of experience remains as strong as ever, but employees with such experience consistently need to add to their skill sets to stay up with the changing times. 

Having said that, before choosing an online course, it is essential to look for these three pillars that build a trustworthy brand:

Curriculum Design: A comprehensive curriculum designed in collaboration with industry experts and veteran academicians is critical. So, look for a combination of university and industry associations. Remember, online platforms are a lot about technology and features, but knowing how to blend a good user experience with an understanding of how people learn and what experienced professionals need, is what makes a good online programme. So, do not go for just a technology platform but look for the design of the curriculum.

 Andragogy: A working professional needs ‘instance-based learning’. Andragogy in the design of the curriculum, an easy search capability and a group discussion board are critical elements of the programme that you select. Content that is short, quick and easy to learn videos interlaced with expert live webinars, quick but deep thinking quizzes are all part of the learning methodology which can integrate well to provide you with a great learning experience.

Corporate network: The strength of the corporate tie-ups with the brand is important to assess two areas a) Is there a possibility of getting a connection to open up new opportunities and b) does the programme have practitioners who can combine the concepts and bring them to life in practice.

Today, a rising number of intelligent professionals are finding value in online skill development programmes. Activities like projects, discussion boards, and learning cohorts have allowed them to indulge in group activities, discuss problems and provide viable business solutions. Online programmes also provide an active, interactive, and dynamic setting for students to grow their knowledge and skills. 

How effective are they? 

The value addition of online executive education can be determined by the extent to which the course helps you bring a new approach to solve existing business problems. Whether it introduces you to newer ideas and technology with an ability to apply them in real-life scenarios or not. Online programmes have the additional benefit of creating learning paths which you can design or choose from standard templates. The benefit of a learning path is that you can choose modules progressively depending on your starting point and it encourages you to go back and forth depending on what learning you require at various points of time and moving closer to instance-based learning.

All in all, upskilling is undoubtedly the most important investment for professionals to survive the cut-throat competition in IT as well as non-IT sectors. The solution lies in choosing the right courses, which not only give you the knowledge related to the technologies of the future but the right engagement and opportunity to network with other learners.

(The author is with Manipal
ProLearn)

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