Updated February 2023
You really can't go anywhere on the web without seeing ads for online training programs. They're in your Facebook feed. They're in your Google search results. They're promoted on the websites you visit.
Love it or hate it, online learning has exploded in popularity all across the globe.
Gone are the days when people sneered at online degrees, diplomas, and certificates—assuming the courses were somehow easier and less comprehensive than on-campus equivalents.
Even Ivy League institutions like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Duke now offer online programs. And technical and career colleges have certainly been quick to adopt the trend, making training more flexible and accessible than ever.
And flexibility is what it's all about. If you work full-time, have family responsibilities, or live far from campus, online learning may be your only option for professional development.
How Many People are Doing Online Learning?
The pandemic forced the issue, and now we're seeing more students and professionals embracing digital education. Statista estimates the worldwide e-learning market will generate close to $400 billion US by 2026.
What about online professional development training? How many people are using online courses to enhance work skills and build up their resume? Well, according to the latest research, 55 per cent of online students say job and employment goals are their primary motivation.
For years now, many companies have relied heavily on online training for internal professional development.
Suffice it to say, e-learning is fast becoming the new model of post-secondary education and corporate training.
Typical Problems with Online Professional Development Training
Despite its growing popularity, online learning has had a quality control problem from day one. Many institutions have had trouble attracting experienced instructors and figuring out how to deliver course material in effective ways online.
The same holds true for online professional development training, whether you go with a public college/university or private company. Typical issues include:
- lack of instructor support
- instructors with minimal professional experience/no real credentials
- limited or no contact with classmates
- boring, un-motivating course delivery format
- skimpy course content
- low program completion rates
This begs the question: If you're seeking online professional development training, what features should you look for to protect yourself and ensure the courses are actually worth taking? Consider the following three-point checklist when comparing your online training options.
Look at the Institution Delivering the Professional Development Training
This is key. Is the online program you're considering delivered by a company or institution that specializes in education? And does this organization have a track record of providing quality training? How long have they been in operation?
Look for industry partnerships, accreditations, and other seals of approval that validate the authenticity of the school and its programs. If these are present, you're off to a good start.
Examine Instructor Credentials & Relevant Work Experience
Never make assumptions about who has been hired to teach your online course. Ask directly about their qualifications, or look on the school website for a "teacher profile" page. You should find plenty of information about their academic background and relevant work experience.
When it comes to professional development, you should look for programs taught by seasoned professionals in your field. It's great if they have a PhD, but valid work experience is the key.
If your instructor really knows your field inside and out, there is a much higher chance that your course will offer real value. The content will be up to date, well-structured, and focused on practical outcomes that will directly enhance your performance at work. And that's what professional development is all about, right?
Choose Interactive Online Training with Personalized Instructor Support
Guess how many people sign up for online training and never complete it? A lot. There's a ton of research on "attrition" rates for online learning—the sheer number of people who drop out before finishing their certificate, course, or degree.
Some of the top reasons for this problem are lack of motivation, zero accountability, and no dedicated instructor support. And when you think about it, it's not all that surprising. In many cases, students are left to toil alone, with nothing but a computer, dry online lectures—and almost no contact with classmates or teachers.
Protect yourself by choosing an online professional development format that features plenty of peer interaction and easy access to the instructor. There should be regularly scheduled online discussions with classmates and personalized support from the teacher—by video conference, phone, email, or live chat.
Online learning with regular, one-to-one interactions with instructors has been proven to lower dropout rates. It's also been shown to improve the quality of students' work and help participants finish training on time.
This is especially important for people who are juggling work, home, and other responsibilities with online courses. Without real support, your chances of falling behind (or never finishing) are extremely high.
Bottom line: The best online professional development programs offer students genuine mentorship. They receive consistent feedback, get help with assignments, and feel like they're actually part of a learning community.
Ready to take the plunge, and sign up for an online training course in your field?
We'd be happy to talk with you about your professional goals and see if Kompass is a good match.
Kompass Professional Development offers quality online training in a number of fields, including:
- Mental Health and Addictions
- Family Mediation
- Human Resources Management
- Health and Safety Management
- Online Project Management
- Public Policy and Administration
- Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
Use the links below to browse available professional development courses and certificates and get more information. Or use the tool on this screen to chat live with a knowledgeable advisor.
We can answer your questions, point you in the right direction, and suggest next steps. Good luck with your training!