There are over 6 million students taking web-based courses, according to the Babson Survey Research Group, and that number grows every day. With online skills training offerings in a vast array of subjects and at a wide range of price points, you don’t have to delay upgrading or refreshing your professional skills.
Online Skills Training: Improve Your Hireability for Remote Jobs Without Going Back to School
First things first: what is online skills training?
Online skills training is internet-based instruction that is available anytime, anywhere. This type of training is also known as computer-based training (CBT), distance learning, or e-learning.
Courses may be led by live teachers with set class times and schedules, or they may be self-paced and customizable to each individual’s learning needs. In addition, courses may be stand-alone or part of a certificate or degree program.
Benefits of Online Training
Online skills training options continue to improve with several studies providing real-world examples of online degrees outperforming traditional degrees. Even back in 2012 there was a Babson/College Board study that recognized improvements in the quality of online skills training. Their results indicated that 77% of academic leaders rated online courses as equal or superior to traditional courses.
For remote workers, this method of skills improvement has many advantages:
- You’re already relying on your computer to complete your work. You have an established space to work remotely. To work on your online skills training, all you have to do is open a new window in your browser.
- Most online courses are primarily self-paced, even if they include some live training sessions. This means you can usually fit your coursework in whenever you can. There is no need to change your routines or schedule large blocks of time out-of-office on your calendar.
- Online skills training lends itself to a wide variety of instructional topics. Information technology, internet marketing, copywriting, and education. Even subjects that don’t fully lend themselves to online skills training can benefit from completing partial instruction online. This would apply to jobs such as diverse as nursing to insurance claims adjustors which would include a combination of classroom and field or laboratory instruction.
- Cost and time. In almost all cases, classroom instruction or individual instruction is more expensive and takes longer than online training. Many times without offering any additional benefits.
- Engaging content. Accessing content online allows for the incorporation of all types of instructional materials. In addition to simple text, students and teachers can collaborate over photographs, video, maps, or music. This ability to access such a content-rich environment can increase levels of engagement and understanding.
Challenges of Online Skills Training
In the same way that access to top-shelf content doesn’t necessarily translate into effective training, a history of working remotely doesn’t mean you will effortlessly excel in online skills training. Successful online training requires specific skills and, in certain situations, it may not be the best way to learn.
If the topic is unfamiliar…
When the course subject is completely new or covers a topic in which you struggle, online training may not provide you with the type of support you need. Online skills training works best if you have some foundation in a topic to build upon and are not starting from scratch. If you don’t understand something, it can take time to receive a response from instructors. It can also be difficult to formulate concise, understandable questions when you are unfamiliar with the topic.
If you lack self-discipline…
Self-discipline is required to complete online courses. Even if you are used to working remotely, sometimes the fact you’re not getting paid to take the course can result in it getting put on the backburner whenever you have paid work to do. Setting a schedule and sticking to it is key to being successful.
If the course is sticky…
The amount of information retained or “stickiness” of course content is an often talked about concern for online learning. Some studies show that drop out rates rise and pass rates fall when comparing online courses to traditional classroom courses.
What to Look for in an Online Course
Training experts suggest several factors to improve learning retention and increase engagement. These are the same elements you should examine when researching possible online skills training opportunities to improve your learning outcomes.
- Look for courses that offer the opportunity to revisit the content. This will allow you to go back over previous lessons to reinforce or refresh the material.
- Identify courses with convenient schedules. For example, can you work at your own pace? Are you willing to block off the time needed to attend live sessions?
- Research course formats to find ones that work with best with your learning style. Be realistic about your learning preferences and select courses that will engage you the most. If you have only small chunks of time (or a short attention span), make sure the individual lessons are short. If you are easily distracted, look for courses with a variety of content formats and frequent quizzes or summaries.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the customer service and support provided. How quickly will you receive a response to your questions or a resolution to your technical issues?
- Check that you have the hardware and software needed to participate. Many of the newer courses involve video conferencing or use specialized training platforms. Is your internet connection fast enough to support a live stream? Do you feel comfortable using the software?
- Consider learn by doing courses, which have been shown to be particularly effective. For example a Java course that includes you completing and submitting coding or a management course that includes a project that you must complete.
- Vet your course provider before parting with your hard-earned cash. Does the institution or company have a good reputation? How established are they in your industry? What do students and employers say about them? If possible, choose an accredited program offered by either a college or industry association. These will hold the most weight with employers.
Topics Best-Suited to Online Training
Some topics lend themselves more to an e-learning environment than others.
- Compliance-based courses. These are courses that an employer may require due to safety regulations or labor laws. There are generally easy and convenient to complete online, frequently incorporating video segments to illustrate situations.
- Software and technical skills courses or certifications. Brushing up on your Word or Excel skills is a breeze, but more in-depth courses and certification programs work well in an online format; they are also highly sought after by employers.
- Management and leadership training. This is another content area where the online format can be particularly effective, especially when combined with live instructional sessions.
Ways Online Skills Training Can Help You Land a Remote Job
Online skills training can be used to improve both managerial and technical skills that will appeal to employers when you apply for virtual or remote positions. By completing courses in the following areas, employers will be confident that you have the necessary skills and tools needed to successfully work remotely. In addition, you will illustrate that you are proactive and have the motivation and self-discipline necessary to contribute as a telecommuter.
To Demonstrate Necessary Technical Skills
No matter what remote job you are looking for, you will need to be able to operate a variety of office and computer equipment and navigate multiple specialized software programs. If there is any doubt in an employers mind of your mastery of remote work tools, you should consider taking an online course or two to illustrate your skills in the areas most important to your career focus. For example, if you are looking for a business analyst position, advanced Excel courses may be useful. Or perhaps you are a graphic designer and want to improve your skills using Adobe Illustrator.
To Brush Up on Communication
Remote work requires advanced and specialized communication skills. It is listed near the top of almost all job ads for remote positions because it is the area where things go wrong first. Without good communication expectations aren’t met, projects aren’t completed, and the bosses aren’t happy. Again, choose online skills training that will be most useful for your career target. Courses here may run the gamut from learning remote productivity software packages to taking a course in how to manage virtual teams.
Learn Organization and Time Management
When you work remotely, there is no one looking over your shoulder to make sure you get things done and are on track with the project timeline. The more you can do you show a prospective employer that you have the skills to get things done in a remote environment, the better off you are. Courses in this category could include soft skills time management courses, specialized software training, or it could also include project management courses or certifications.
To Acquire Job Required Courses or Certifications
Many positions require the completion of certain courses or certifications due to government regulations or industry standards. If you know you are missing any of these, this is the perfect time to get them, as in many instances these courses are available online. Examples of these training opportunities include safety courses, labor law courses, and technical certifications.
Where to Find Online Skills Training Resources
Before sign up for the first course you find, remember that employers are as mindful of your online skills training course provider as they are of your proactiveness in pursuing professional development. Below are three websites where you can start your search to find the best reputable online course provider to suit your needs.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
MOOC is a provider of free or affordable courses, certification programs, and full-fledged degree programs offered by some of the most prestigious education providers in the world. These courses are also recognized by some of the largest employers in the World. Founded by Harvard and MIT, it doesn’t get more credible than this!
This is currently the largest online learning site that provides 30 million students access to over 100,000 online courses in a vast array of courses from management to web-development to life coaching. Udemy offers tools to help you find the courses you want as well as detailed course descriptions. Costs vary depending on the course.
U.S. News & World Report
Although online skills training allows you to improve your remote work hireability without enrolling in a formal college or university degree program, some jobseekers may want to go back to school. If you’re looking for a degree program, this is the site for you.
U.S. News & World Report publishes a comprehensive yearly review of over 1,500 online courses and degree programs offered by accredited schools nationwide. There are also sub-rankings of the most popular online programs such as MBA programs, bachelor degrees, nursing, and computer science, among others.
Now you have the scoop on web-based training opportunities for remote workers. What are you waiting for? Start your online skills training today!
Are you curious about online skills training; which professional skills do you want to improve? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us your story. We’d love to know what you have to say!
iStock Photo Credit: 1. relif; 2. Geber86
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