Can Online Courses Replace Higher Education?

Educational platforms offer to become a financial manager, game designer, or Instagram marketer in a few months. Is it worth getting higher education in a world with Coursera, Udemy, or other courses?

Do Not Miss: How Distance Education Has Affected the Quality of Learning

The online education market – what is there and what to expect

More than 70% of students and teachers believe that distance learning is at least as good as traditional education. Higher education has long been available on online platforms – Coursera hosts undergraduate and graduate programs.


The entire online education market will grow to $350 billion by 2025. What is the interest of buyers and investors in this sphere?

Online courses offer to learn a profession in just a few months. This removes the responsibility from the individual. Even if the choice was wrong, it is possible to retrain quickly, and it will cost an order of magnitude cheaper than in a traditional educational institution. You also don’t have to constantly ask someone to do my essay for me like you do at university. On average, you can get a high school diploma in the U.S. for 85,000 USD. And the online platforms of American universities can be obtained for 30,000 USD.

Where to get an in-demand profession – in a university or on an online course

The most in-demand professions of 2021:

  • Data-scientist – machine learning and data analytics specialist;
  • Java-developer – a programmer in Java, used to write computer games, banking systems, and mobile applications;
  • Product manager – creates ideas for a product and implements them.All of this can be learned on online platforms.

Most universities offer a mastery of in-demand specialties (for example, the same data-scientist) in the master’s program. This means that before the training itself, you will have to spend four years on a bachelor’s degree. On online platforms, the system is simpler – no one will ask for an academic degree. It is several times more expensive to study at a university.

At the same time, some educational platforms offer a “learn now, pay later” system. The first six months you cannot pay – when you find a job, then refund the cost of training.

Future medics, architects, and mining specialists should forget about the prospect of online learning. Theoretical material can also be absorbed remotely. But if the key thing in your profession is practical skills, be prepared for an in-person study. Universities will not risk their reputation and teach them online – the institution vouches for the quality of education. And employers will be distrustful of a digital diploma of a teacher. Teamwork, the ability to empathize and speak in front of an audience – these skills are difficult to obtain on an online platform.

What are employers think?

In addition to training, some online platforms offer job placement assistance.

If you are going to look for a job on your own, however, pay attention to the most important indicators for employers. Having a certificate from an online platform does not guarantee employment. An employer will look at the length of the course. If it lasted 10-12 months, it amounts to full training. It’s also important to provide a certificate of completed work and training projects – this is a key way to see if the job seeker has mastered the profession.

Who is not suitable for online education?

Comparing online and offline formats is incorrect. Each has features that are either appropriate or inappropriate for the individual.

  • There is less business and personal interaction. Online learning is handy for upgrading skills or learning a new profession quickly. But for those who have just graduated from school, educational platforms can be a hindrance to building networking. Informal conversations with professors, student events, volunteering, and hobby clubs will not be available.
  • It is difficult to organize a work environment. Don’t choose an online platform for your first education if you need outside supervision to stay efficient. Distance learning offers more freedom for students. You can combine it with work, your personal life, or any hobby. And that’s not so much an advantage as a problem for many. One in four students surveyed says his concentration and interest in learning increases with going online. But that means the remaining three give the opposite answer.
  • The quality of learning gets worse. Online, the time to master the material is reduced by 25-60%. If you already know the information taught in the course, some classes can be skipped without compromising your professional skills. But there some skip classes because the material is boring or difficult. Even distance learning courses need to be taken seriously with a motivation to study. Multi-month courses are only completed by 20-60% of those who paid for them. Some online platforms do promise job and internship assistance. But you have to remember that this privilege is only available to those who actually attend all classes and turn in their work on time.

What do you need to keep in mind if you decide to study online?

Even the most well-known and top-rated online platforms can produce low-quality courses. Official programs from universities do not need additional validation. But if you want to take a course to learn a profession quickly, study the reviews and curriculum carefully. Users complain that some expensive courses are just a collection of free information from the Internet. And don’t expect distance education to be easy. You can’t learn a profession in a few months without doing anything.

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