Professionals from all over the globe are seeking online programs in various universities to reduce the time, effort and investment value required in education. The technological advancements have propelled many universities to dwell into online certification courses to fill the void.
Though online programs come with a gamut of benefits, not all are worth your investment. To ensure you are enrolling in the right online university, here are 10 things you must ensure before taking the plunge.
1. Accreditation: Accreditation is the process of validation of an online university by an authorized council or committee such as the UGC, the AICTE and the Bar Council of India. It also ensures the validity of a program to employers, who readily recruit certified students from accredited universities.
2. Well-established university: Online courses are a safer bet when they are pursued from a well-established university. The online tutors are not just real professors but industry professionals offering hands-on experience of corporate teaching in online classrooms. Hence, a well-established online university will always have a good pool of faculty, including academicians, scientists, researchers, and top management of global brands teaching you the essence of management and specialization in your chosen program.
3. Curriculum: The other area of research before enrolling in an online university must be to check the curriculum of the specific program. It must be industry-oriented and target at providing the latest technical skills to the students, with focus on the following:
- Student-oriented approach: A good curriculum is designed to shape the pedagogy strategies into real-time strategies. The teaching needs to be student-centric and must involve a two-way approach, indicating a strong interdependency between the teacher and the learner.
- Setting the student’s expectations appropriately: The ideal program is designed with a detailed road map which takes you to your destination gradually. It must take a positive approach in letting students know that they are dealing with complex concepts and it is okay if they are not able to relate with them in the first go.
4. Student Support Services: While taking up a course online, you not only need the help of a 24/7 academic staff but also a dedicated technical support. Often a lot of time is wasted in submitting an assignment because of a technical failure in the server or in accessing a feature. So you must look for an online university which has an effective technical staff with high levels of commitment and expertise in quickly tending to your concerns.
5. Flexibility: The popularity of online programs is because of the immense flexibility that they provide. You can learn anytime, at any place, at your own pace, and totally at your convenience. So before enrolling for an online university, you must ask yourself the following questions:
- Would I be able to manage the online course with my current job or personal life?
- How many hours of study are needed every day or every week?
- Will my employer be accommodating enough to give me leaves or let me leave early for assignment submission or giving exams?
- Is there a provision of flexible learning where I can increase or decrease the study hours based on my work routine?
6. Networking opportunities: Social engagement has become an indispensable part of learning today. The advent and huge success stories of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn speak for themselves. So you must see if your online courses are integrated with social media to make learning more interactive and interesting. Using online collaborating apps or social media, students can create individualized hubs to work on projects or assignments together.
7. Examination pattern: Many of us think that with online courses, we can easily clear all our exams as there is no seriousness in supervision. However, you must look for online universities that conduct genuine web-proctored exams to provide credibility to their programs. Here you are required to log in to a webcam and your face must be properly visible in front of the camera. Also ensure that the university you want to enrol in has a reliable and well-organized system of examination booking at the desired centre in a preferred slot and a helpdesk in place to clear any confusion.
8. Modes of payment: Rather than looking for a program offering the lowest possible price, you must ensure that the investment is a value-for-money proposition that justifies its cost. The online university should provide a user-friendly platform to let you go through the payment procedure swiftly and effortlessly, offering varied modes of payment. These include cardless EMIs, no cost EMI, demand drafts or through debit/credit cards.
9. Student involvement: Your aim of pursuing an online course is to learn from it. Hence, you must look out for universities that make students actively participate for the entire duration of the course. Even in online courses, you must be made to undertake real-life projects and case studies. It is very important to present opportunities for students to apply their skills so that they could reap good benefits in the long run.
10. Placement Assistance: While the role of many online universities ends at handing over the degrees to students, now the concept of virtual job fairs has become fairly common. A lot of online universities are providing placement assistance with some of the best-known brands in the market.