In this era of computers and internet almost everything can be found online. Education is not an exception in this case. Learning something directly from the internet is called online education. Nowadays there are a lot of institutes that provide online education. Almost every renowned university has their own online courses. Apart from the universities other institutes also provide online education. These institutes generally provide study materials and organize tests for various professional or competitive exams.
Evaluating online education has different aspects. Firstly, one has to select an online course based on his/her capability of the mode of learning. If one is comfortable in learning via reading, then he/she should go for an online course that provides e-books, web pages etc. Same things happen in case of comfort in learning via listening, seeing how things are done, solving problems or communicating. One has to choose his/her course accordingly.
Then one has to consider the required duration of a course. There are courses that help in short term personal enrichment. Also there are courses that are longer, more comprehensive and meant for professional development. The second type of course is usually meant for obtaining degrees from universities or institutes. These courses also organize online semester exams for evaluating the student.
One has to think of the type of course also. There are self-directed courses as well as instructor led courses. The first kind of courses are not time bound and can be continued as long as one wishes to. Whereas for the second type, the time is fixed for the course. In case of self-directed courses one may not have a contact for help, but some institutes offer subject matter experts.
Then comes the question of enrollment. Enrollments are of two types: open enrollment and traditional scheduling enrollment. For an open enrollment the learner may learn at his/her suitable time of the day. But for a traditional scheduling enrollment one has to attend the course at a specified time of a day. Academic credits or continuing education units are useful in the evaluation process. One has to go through the institute’s accreditation status and check with them regarding CEUs or credits for different courses. If CEUs are not a big matter for a learner then he/she gets a wider range of courses.
One must think about the type of support available. Some courses come with tutoring, reference links, library access, mentoring, writing/math labs, technical assistance, and other resources to help the learning process, while others are void of this.
Lastly, one has to consider about how much money he/she can spend after the online course. The more depth of the course, the more money required. There are a wide range of courses to fit in budget. Professional development courses are expensive ones while personal enrichment courses are relatively cheap. Short term tutorial courses can be availed at a very low cost. However, cost is the last thing to be considered hiwle selecting a course. One must go through the demo of the course, usually offered by institutes, before selecting one course.