If you’re considering a remote learning experience, you may be questioning whether or not now is the best time. You might see some others making it work, but you probably have questions about the legitimacy of those experiences, whether this format can work for you, and whether the technology is sufficient to support a quality experience. This article in our series on remote learning will hopefully provide you with answers to those questions and take a look at how traditional educational institutions are adapting their experiences to move towards remote learning.

Remote learning vs. traditional education

Traditional education: Traditional education typically involves an instructor, a brick-and-mortar facility, and a group of students that gather at this facility during set periods of the day to learn from the instructor. The programs are usually completed over a number of years, with progress being determined by paper-based assignments and exams. 

Remote learning: Remote learning can take many forms depending on the platform. It takes place online, and can be accessed either during set periods or at the discretion of the student. The education can be theoretical, or skills-based practical experience. They may or may not have a dedicated instructor, and progress can be determined in a number of ways depending on how the platform is structured. 

Are remote learning experiences legitimate?

Remote learning experiences are becoming increasingly prevalent, but are employers recognizing them as legitimate learning opportunities, and can these experiences provide the same level of education as traditional institutions? 

Although some online certifications are becoming increasingly recognized by employers due to the pre-established brand power behind the institution issuing it (think Google Adwords or Facebook Blueprint) there still exists a bias in the eyes of some employers that a traditional education is more legitimate than online learning. Does that mean that online education isn’t worth it? Absolutely not. 

Ultimately, it’s entirely possible to get the same level of education, if not better, through online learning as opposed to traditional education. Remote learning platforms today can be extremely comprehensive, covering all the theoretical knowledge you could gain from traditional education. Online education can also provide better experiences than some traditional education programs through providing more practical experiences, and serving more up-to-date content.

Many of today’s employers are looking for talent that knows the latest skills and has a track record of putting those skills into practice successfully. Online education has the opportunity to be constantly updated with the latest practices and information which, when it comes to digital skills like marketing and programming in particular, is vital. Additionally, online platforms like ours give people the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in the real world, an opportunity that not all traditional education programs offer. 

Ultimately, although some employers may not recognize an online certification as legitimate, it’s hard for them to overlook an applicant coming to them with up to date knowledge, and a proven history of successfully applying that knowledge on real projects. 

Remote learning – a different approach

When you think about programs from traditional educational institutions what comes to mind? A four-year program with pre-determined courses where students learn via lecture and their success is determined by their ability to retain information for essays and exams? Is this really the best way to learn? 

Where remote learning excels is in the flexibility of their approach to education. No longer are you locked into a program for years, with limited ability to explore the areas of the degree that interest you the most. Depending on the remote learning platform, you’re able to take a skills-first approach, learning the skills that interest you the most. Rather than working towards a marketing degree for example, you can take courses in the specific marketing niche you want to work in. Or, if you’re unsure if marketing is even a good fit for you, you can dabble in a few areas that pique your interest without having to commit the time or money associated with university/college education. 

Additionally, remote apprenticeships allow you to ‘learn by doing’ from the comfort of your home. Although some traditional education paths do offer internship opportunities, the remote nature of digital apprenticeships help expand your reach and allow you to be more selective about who you work with. 

Is the technology there to support remote learning?

It’s easy to take for granted just how far technology has come in the past decade. In the past ten years, the number of employees working remotely has seen a 91% increase, supported largely by shifting mindsets towards working from home, but also thanks to improvements in technology to support it. 

From 2010 to 2020, Americans with access to broadband internet increased from an estimated 74.5 percent to 93.5 percent. This shift has helped pave the way for new opportunities for remote work and remote learning. Where ten years ago you might not have been able to reliably access video content or access a Zoom call, now you can probably do those things without having to worry if your connection can support it. 

Not only has access to high-speed internet increased, but more platforms for remote learning have appeared. Companies that offer an alternative to traditional education have started to gain traction and the options for people looking to learn online have risen sharply. 

Additionally, tools that foster collaboration have also started to become more commonplace. Things like Google’s G Suite that allow multiple people to work together on a single document or Team Viewer which allows multiple people to control the same device from anywhere in the world, are making remote collaboration more possible with each passing day. 

Traditional education’s shift to remote learning

Advancements in technology, the growing legitimacy of remote education, and the modernization of education through remote learning have all helped shift remote education as a legitimate path to hitting your professional goals. But, with the global pandemic that hit the world in 2020, remote learning has become the norm for many students across the globe. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.2 billion students were left without a classroom, leaving many to make the shift to remote education whether they liked it or not. Many universities plan to not open their doors again in time for the fall semester leaving upwards of 30% of post-secondary students questioning their enrollment. Despite this, prices for tuition at some colleges and universities remain stagnant or continue to rise. Given the high cost of traditional education, some will be left questioning whether it is still as valuable when alternatives exist.