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“You don’t go to university so you can punch a clock. You go to university so you can be in a position to make a difference.”
— Janet Napolitano
Ever since the inception of the internet all those decades ago, the web has been changing the way we perform most tasks. Being online has changed the way we shop, the way we interact with our loved ones and even the way we seek transportation. One digital revolution that has been slower than most yet very effective has been e-learning. Most e-learning portals today focus on specialized courses in particular domains. These are effective resources to up-skill in a particular domain. But if you are looking to shift your career perspective or have more ambitious career goals, you will need a little more. This is where online PGPs come in. While online training institutes have existed since the late 2000s, there have been only a handful of commendable developments when it comes to online postgraduate programs.
As education is one of the most important aspects of our lives, online training has always been greeted with a bit of uncertainty by traditionalists. And because of this, most people are either misinformed about the digital education space or know very little about it.
While buying a four-week long course that adds new skills to your existing profile and is worth a couple of hundred dollars might not be that difficult a decision to make, thinking of a postgraduate program is a different story altogether. So, before we talk about how online training is changing the postgraduate programs (PGPs) we all know and love, let’s first understand the difference between specialization courses and PGPs.
Specialization courses and postgraduate programs are not only different in the way they are taught and delivered, but also at a foundational level. Here are a few key differences between these two education models:
|Factor||Specialization Courses||Postgraduate Programs|
|Aim||Primarily focus on a fixed set of skills that are an add-on to a student or professional’s existing skill set.||Primarily aim to add a larger set of skills to a professional’s portfolio or allow them to reskill in a completely different domain altogether.|
|Duration||Usually, last anywhere from a few days to a couple of months, depending upon the course type and provider.||Are typically longer. Can range from 9 months to even 2 years based on the type of program.|
|Price||Typically cost a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.||Prices can be in the four digits depending on the institution.|
|Engagement||Learning models typically comprise of live or self-paced sessions along with projects and assignments.||Usually comprised of live sessions with a mix of hackathons, workshops, intensive assignments, and capstone projects.|
|Instructors||Industry practitioners and domain experts.||Certified educators usually with doctorates and end-to-end expertise in the domain.|
|Evaluation Methodology||Usually quizzes, tests, and projects.||Typically research, capstone projects, and written examinations.|
|Proof-of-Completion||Course completion or merit certifications.||Diplomas or degrees.|
|Affiliation||Usually not affiliated with any educational institution.||Affiliated with universities and colleges.|
|Credibility||Can help in resume building and are usually industry-recognized.||Very high credibility of diplomas and degrees.|
Now that we all understand the basic differences between full-on postgraduate programs and simple specialization courses, let’s talk about the role of the internet in making e-learning better than ever before.
If you’re up for it, a simple Google search can show you hundreds, if not thousands of different online training portals. Each of these boasts their own USPs which can range anywhere from expert educators to 24×7 support and some even go as far as providing lifetime access to the course. While buying a course in Data Science might definitely help you upskill and progress in your career, will this four to five-week long course be enough to give you the necessary career boost that you deserve?
Specialization courses are great. They are like small injections that have a very small entry point but deliver a very strong dose. Anyone can take up a 4-week long Blockchain course and come out as a jack of all trades in the crypto space at the end of the month. This is exactly what most e-learning providers today believe in. This is why if you sift the internet, you will find short to moderate duration courses in different domains.
But sometimes, this approach is not enough for a professional’s career aspirations. Postgraduate programs like masters and diplomas usually become a necessity after a professional gains a good deal of experience, or they are ambitious enough to take up a challenge.
The issue here is that traditional PGPs are full-time courses. This means that it would be difficult for a working professional to juggle between work and education. In order to help professionals with this, several universities came up with the distance learning model. This new approach allowed professionals to take up classes online for a fixed duration of time while simultaneously keeping their job and then appearing for an examination at the end of the course.
Let’s now look at the major issues with the traditional PGP system that the online approach tries to address:
Online PGPs offer the perks of a traditional program with add-ons like flexible class schedules, remote access to the course from anywhere over the Internet, expert support from industry practitioners and mentors, and a lot more.
In the age of the internet when we all want everything faster and at our fingertips, online PGPs are a boon for any professional looking to upgrade their career or switch their domain. The ease of use provided by these programs along with the host of awesome features makes them ideal for the professionals of the 21st century.