This week, I'm sharing 6 Tips about choosing an online learning program that first appeared in my blog around this time last year. Coivid-19 has resulted in an amazing unleashing of hundreds and thousands of online training programs and learning materials. There is great encouragement (dare I say it, even a growing pressure) to use this time to up-skill and expand your knowledge base.
I'm a huge fan of the online format - both as a learner and a trainer. This is a space I've been studying for a couple of years. I offer two fully on-line courses (details here) and our coach-mentoring programs are now largely delivered in real-time through online channels.
It is a case of Buyer Beware however! Given the explosion in e-learning solutions and online training options, all at different price tags and many free, how do you know which one is for you? How do you know if a course is worth your money? Even if it's free, how do you know it's worth your time? Have a read for some pointers.
So one element is the price tag. This is straightforward. You can either afford to make this investment or you can’t.
My recommendation though is not to decide on the basis of price, but on the basis of value that you can get. Let me share my experience. The first two online courses I bought were poles apart. One cost just short of $2000. The other cost €30. I feel the first was the best value I’ve ever received from a training program – it transformed my mindset and my business. I felt quite hard done-by by the second. The best thing I can say about it is that it was cheap. So what do I mean by value? Judge the program on the extent to which it can create transformation for you and the timeframe in which it can achieve that transformation. I call it the time:transformation ratio. Judge it also on the time you can save by accessing knowledge in a neat package and in one go – if it would take you a year to research and accumulate the knowledge yourself and somebody has already done it and made it available for €300, judge if that €300 investment is worth the time you would need to get it together yourself.
Has the training provider offered some free training or supports that allow you to sample what they offer in advance of purchase? Are you able to get a sense of the style, pace and personality so you know whether it’s for you or not. If not, move on.
For some reason that I really cannot understand, a large number of online courses still have a time limit on your access. For example, buy now and access for 30 days. There is no justifiable learning reason for this. If there’s a time limit, forget it. The good training programs come with no time limit and the best ones also let you know that they’ll even update your program as new knowledge or information emerges.
What do you do if you have a question? While you can’t have a trainer on tap, ensure that the program has some provision for interaction with a trainer or expert e.g. through a once a week Q&A session, through online chat options, through guaranteed email response or once a month call.
There is much to learn from other people on the same learning journey as you or with the same learning goals. Facebook groups, live Q&As, online communities – these are a rich source of learning and a major plus if the course that interests you offers this option. This option makes an online course really valuable and it can provide you with a ready-made network or like-minded professionals.
My $2000 course ticked all of these boxes while my €30 course ticked none except the price. This explains my different satisfaction levels.
This is a useful checklist of the 6 important things you need to know when choosing an online training course for tourism and hospitality, now and in the future. Happy learning - if that's what you choose to do in this time. No pressure though!