As we've seen, online continuing education courses offer many advantages. The courses often give more flexibility at lower cost, because the professional doesn't have to waste time and money commuting to class. For those with mobility issues related to physical limitations or transportation needs, online courses also offer advantages.
By choosing courses from the Web, professionals can choose from a larger menu of classes. They also have a better chance of finding exactly the classes they want, as well as those that are accredited and specifically meet their mandatory continuing education requirements. Professionals can also keep working while they take online courses. Tuition is usually less expensive, as well.
However, taking continuing education classes online can have a downside. While video conferencing is quite effective, communication often is best face to face. The online student may miss the nuances of information in an actual classroom. These students also can miss out on the interaction with other professionals. Networking and sharing experiences with peers over lunch and during class can be a valuable part of continuing education. Finally, technical issues can arise, sometimes at the most inopportune times. Hitting such a snag at the wrong time could jeopardize a professional's certification.
What Does the Future Hold?
Most education-trend watchers agree that online education will continue to expand. Technology continues to improve, along with connectivity. People everywhere are becoming more comfortable with and dependent on technology to pass information back and forth. Hardware and software with better interactivity are expected to make the virtual classroom experience more "real." And though few foretell the demise of the traditional classroom, online classrooms are expected to become a bigger part of the continuing education movement.
On the next page, we'll talk about the increasing number of ways to continue your education from home.