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Learning curve: The growth of online courses

By Academy Xi

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The pandemic’s closure of the bricks-and-mortar facilities used by schools, universities, academies and other institutions providing vocational courses has led learning and skills development to migrate online.

Online video call

In the lockdown landscape, education and skills development moved into the endless expanses of the digital space and the feeling is that large parts of the industry will set-up shop there permanently. Forbes boldly claims “it’s a fact that online learning is the future and will undoubtedly replace land-based learning.”

The world of online courses and skills development is one of boundless potential, whereby anyone can do anything at any place and time. Characterised by a mindset of ‘yes I can’, it’s the polar opposite of what the rest of the covid life’s been about – frozen to the spot (possibly eating ice cream in your gym gear) and ultimately feeling a bit limited by restrictions.

The thaw of covid’s deepfreeze on our everyday potential is finally setting in and you, like the rest of us, want more from the future, starting with your career.

Luckily, everything you need to make that future a now thing is right at your fingertips – fully digitised, instantly accessible, wherever and whenever.

It’s an inspiring position to be in, but how did we reach it? And crucially, what kind of an experience does an online course offer?

This blog will chart the growth of online learning in Australia and also explain what a digital course offers. Read on – we’ll help you do your homework on the emergence of online learning, so you can decide if amping-up your CV by adding an innovative skill set online is a good fit for your career ambitions and all round lifestyle.

The Online Learning Curve 

The statistics for online learning and skills development show that the industry was already on a steep upward trajectory long before lockdown. Forecasting for online education in early 2020 predicted growth of 21% across five years, with the industry anticipated to be worth $350 billion by 2025.

You won’t be surprised to learn that these numbers have soared in the past year. Following a covid-induced uptake in digital courses, Australian online education is now: 

  • Valued at a colossal $8 billion.
  • Made-up of 1,856 online course providers. 

Many online learning companies have set-up their services in response to a widening digital skills gap. The recent surge in online lifestyles and digital industries means that the nation’s workforce suddenly needs to be tech-savvy. 

This means educators have had to radically rethink and redesign the courses they offer, with: 

Currently, there’s a wide range of digital roles that are underserved and waiting to be claimed by skilled professionals. These are the kinds of jobs Australia needs to fill and the good news is, these are the roles many of you have your hearts set on. 

For a more detailed look at the perks of plying your trade in Australia’s booming digital industries, read our blog article on remote roles and ‘The Great Resignation’ that’s still sweeping through the world’s workforce. 

In a nutshell, lots of people have decided they want to work in remote roles and realised that qualifying for those roles remotely is the optimal way to prepare for industry demands and the everyday remit that awaits them.

With digital learning set only to expand and online skills development increasingly focused on designing and delivering improved student experiences, you’re probably wondering what advantages an online course offers.

The benefits of an online course

1. It’s flexible

Online learning often offers more compromise on coursework deadlines, meaning it’s easier to schedule your studies around the rest of your diary.

  • This means it’s possible to upskill for increased responsibility (or even a completely new career) while still carrying out your existing job. 
  • You can learn quickly or slowly, scaling the timeframe of your development according to your ambitions and personal circumstances.
  • Self-paced study requires good time management skills, which is always a useful professional attribute to develop. 
  • A flexible learning environment can also prompt you and your coursemates to accept new responsibilities and work with more autonomy. Again – these are qualities you’ll definitely need on the job.

If you’re looking to gain an in-demand digital skill set with maximum flexibility and study support, Academy Xi offers Self-Paced courses in: 

Built by industry experts, all of these courses also come with: 

→ 24/7 online access and no set deadlines

→ 1:1 sessions with your Course Expert 

→ A personal Study Coach who’ll help plan your progress and keep you motivated   

If you want to fast-track your next career move at times that work for you, this format might just do the trick.

2. It’s accessible

Online education enables you to study anywhere in the world. All that’s needed is a mobile device and a wifi connection and bam – you’ve got yourself a fully-connected virtual classroom!

  • There’s no need to commute from one place to another, or follow a rigid schedule of needing to be somewhere in particular. 
  • If you’re often mobile in your day-to-day life, online education means you can develop digital skills and still be ‘on the move’. 
  • If you’ve got the travel bug, there’s no reason to give up on studying while exploring new and exotic places (click submit on your final piece of coursework as you plant a flag on Everest’s summit, wifi strength pending).

3. It offers customised learning

The flexibility of online education and skills development not only enables you to set your own study pace, but is also adaptable for your individual requirements and level of ability.

  • Online classes tend to be smaller than conventional class sizes, allowing greater interactivity with your coursemates and teacher or mentor.
  • There’s often access to more diverse learning materials, such as videos, e-workbooks, eBooks, checkpoint tests, quizzes and infographics.
  • Online courses also integrate other forms of interaction, like forums, chat channels or discussion groups, maximising student engagement and development.
  • Online educators have a massive amount of user data which enables them to constantly improve platforms and course content based on feedback loops.

Plus, all this extra content is available at any moment, anywhere, which will offer you a more dynamic and tailor-made learning experience.

4. It’s cost-effective

Because online learning providers often have reduced overheads compared with traditional educators, course offerings can come at a reduced rate. Though the monetary investment is less, the results can be better than other options.

  • Unlike in-person education, online education tends to be more affordable. There’s normally a wider range of payment options that let you cover the cost in installments, allowing for better budget management.
  • You can also save money on commuting and learning materials (which most of the time are free, not to mention environmentally friendly!).

5. It offers a wide selection of up-to-date courses

In a space as vast and diverse as the internet, there’s an almost infinite array of skills to learn. The best online educators are innovative in their offerings, always updating a range of courses to better reflect the changing needs of industries that constantly evolve.

  • Traditional educators often follow long bureaucratic processes when updating or adding courses. Online educators tend to be more agile and responsive when it comes to delivering up-to-date skills that industries are actively searching for.
  • In considering online courses, you’ll widen your options and increase the chances of developing skills relevant to your career dreams and personal interests.

So, all this leads us to the inevitable million dollar question…

What online digital skills course should I study?

With so many digital skills courses available these days, narrowing down your options might seem like a bit of head-spinner. It’s also not a decision to take lightly.  

Udemy president Darren Shimkus says, “The biggest challenge for learners is to figure out what skills are emerging, what they can do to compete best in the global market. We’re in a world that’s changing so quickly that skills that were valued just three or four years ago are no longer relevant.” 

If you’re not sure what skills are in-demand and likely to stay that way – fear not, we’ve got your back again! 

To find out which skills are destined to be in high demand for the year ahead and way beyond, check out our blog article covering top digital skills needed to power-up your CV for 2022.  

Academy Xi courses are built and taught by industry experts, offering practical digital skills centred in three core fields of Design, Tech & Data and Business & Marketing, all of which are in rising demand with today’s recruiters. 

Our courses are bootcamp style, taught online and come in a range of flexible options, offering you the chance to build a professional profile for a career you’re passionate about at a time, place and pace that works well for you. 

Chat to one of our course advisors and we’ll help you find a course that’s a perfect fit for your ambitions, in a format that enables you to maintain that all-important study-life balance.  

After all, there’s more to life than just developing the latest digital skills (or at least that’s what everyone keeps telling us 😉 ). 

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