The pros and cons of online courses

Studying from home can be a mixed blessing

The internet may have revolutionised the way people learn, but studying online has its downsides as well as advantages.

Until around a decade ago, if you wanted to take a course you had to commit to being physically present in a classroom. Nowadays, lots of students are gaining qualifications without ever having to step foot inside an educational institution.

It's great news for people who need flexible study options, but there are some things to be aware of:

Online education pluses

  • The biggest advantage online education has is its flexibility and convenience. Rather than needing to be in a certain place at certain times, you can study at home whenever it suits you. This is particularly attractive to students in remote areas and/or those trying to fit in study around a full-time job and family commitments.
  • You may get to interact – albeit only via the internet – with a more diverse group of students given that, potentially, people from all over the country can enrol in an online course.
  • Doing short courses online is an efficient way to keep your skills up to date.
  • Online education minuses

  • There are a lot of dodgy businesses selling degrees and diplomas online. Needless to say, any sensible employer will roll their eyes at a qualification from a non-accredited institution. But many students worry that even an online qualification conferred by a respected institution isn't given as much weight as one gained the old-fashioned way. There does still appear to be some prejudice towards online qualifications, especially where employers are concerned individuals may not have developed certain skills as a result of missing out on the on-campus experience.
  • We humans are social creatures, and sitting in front of a computer can never replicate face-to-face interactions with fellow students and teachers. Be aware that online education can be isolating.
  • Studying from home can be a mixed blessing. Granted, it cuts out the commute, but it also means you're more likely to be distracted than you would be in a classroom. Online education will only work if you can have the space, time and self-discipline to study at home.
  • Increasingly, students are combining both online and on-campus learning rather than seeing it as an either/or choice. TAFE NSW is happy to offer whichever option best serves your particular circumstances. You can find more info on TAFE NSW's Online courses.