5 Things to Look for When Investing in Online Education
I've been an educator in the distance learning field for over 8 years. Through my time teaching and developing courses, I've seen it evolve from only synchronous classes (the instructor and students meet at the same time virtually), to hybrid, and then to fully asynchronous (no virtual meetings required). While there are many advocates for distance education, those that haven’t experienced it are often reluctant to participate. Due to COVID-19, all universities have had to adapt to distance learning formats and all faculty are now adopting best practices to deliver content even more effectively than they did in-person.
All online education is not created equal and COVID-19 is changing things even more. As of April 1, 2020, many state requirements have shifted from requiring a base amount of in-person hours to allowing all hours to be completed online. With the quarantine in place for the foreseeable future, online education is the only option.
That said, you don’t want to log hours for the sake of logging hours - you want to use this time to engage in effective, engaging, and useful education that will enhance your massage business. Investing wisely will prepare you for life after quarantine and position you to hit the ground running once social distancing regulations have been lifted. However, you don’t want to spend your time and money on just any online course. It’s a big decision and a crucial investment in your future.
There are five things you should look for when assessing different types of distance education and the quality of a course:
First things first, make sure your future course can check these boxes. If so, chances are, you’re in good hands.
1. Is the content created by an expert in the field?
2. Are there multiple modes of learning provided for all types of learners? Like, audio, visual, kinesthetic, and reading/writing?
3. Is there a community offered to you during and after the training for you to ask questions, collaborate, and get creative with the content you learned?
4. Is help provided for you to market your newly learned service?
5. Outside of these considerations, let’s take a look at the three main types of distance education that you’ll be asked to choose from.
Pre-recorded & Downloadable
Most massage CE’s are in this format -content has been created and video recorded. This is a very easy way to obtain CE’s as you can watch the content on your own schedule, however, asking questions and getting feedback isn’t a real option.
If the course offers both workbooks and videos, then you have several types of learning styles included. Great! Though, if the course provides only workbooks or written content only, it is likely not very effective at conveying the information to many learning styles.
To truly integrate information, it’s necessary to practice, be tested, and think about how you will apply the knowledge in real life. Does your pre-recorded course provide tests and opportunities to integrate the knowledge through discussion? Likely not.
A live online course can seem like the best, most engaging option, but it comes with a few downfalls.
The first is that you have to be available at the exact time that the course is going live. The second is that the delivery of content can move either too fast or slow for you, and you can easily become distracted after watching the course and miss pertinent information that you’re not able to access again after the course (if it’s not recorded and made available to you).
Additionally, research has shown that students tend to lose focus on video lecture content after just 3-5 minutes!
Hybrid: In-person & Online
Hybrid classes are few and far between, but greatly beneficial when you find one to invest in. What is a hybrid course? It’s where you learn content online and then practice that content in person.
This method allows the learner to get real-time feedback with the benefit of having much of the content absorbed on your own time, at your own pace, and with the ability to go back and review content as you feel necessary.
This can be the best of both worlds, however, it does require that the in-person option is in a location and time convenient for you.
Interactive: Fully Online
Interactive online education is the gold standard for fully virtual courses. With this format, content varies to accommodate all types of learners.
With this method, you get the following:
◘ Short video demonstrations
◘ Audio and written lectures
◘ Interactive discussion board posts among teacher and participants
◘ Exercises that allow the student to integrate the content into their own lives
◘ Quizzes to highlight important information
◘ Feedback from peers and teachers on demonstration of techniques learned
Many people new to online learning fear they won’t have “hands-on” practice, but with these interactive courses, practicing on another human (a friend, roommate, or family member) should be required.
Online Education is the Wave of the Future
One of the great things about online education is that you can review the material as many times as you want (outside of live online classes that aren’t recorded and made available to you after the training). Embrace this opportunity to engage in a new way of learning, learn from experts and create community with other therapists around the country!
For more information on expert led, interactive online and hybrid trainings with a supportive community and built in marketing support, visit this page.
Written by Dr. Tiffany Ryan, 10+ years of course development and teaching experience in higher education, and Co-Founder of Yomassage.