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Published on March 4, 2019

How Online Learning Enhances Your Professional Skills

How Online Learning Enhances Your Professional Skills

Online education is becoming increasingly popular today, with dozens of online courses being held on a regular basis all over the globe. So why does online learning attract millions of people around the world? How does it enhance your professional skills and advance your career? And what is the future of this education trend?

Nowadays, studying in the network is not only popular, it is also very convenient. Starting from choosing an educational course, picking the right tutor, planning the time for the classes, and carrying out payments – everything can be easily done online.

What Is Special about Online Learning?

In recent years, due to the global growth of the influence of the Internet, the role of online learning has increased significantly. People like the simplicity, financial attractiveness, and fun of this way of learning in comparison with the traditional education. Indeed, studying online, you get easy and quick access to any material on your subject.

Wonder how to learn online?[1] You can also choose any convenient time and place for an online class to take part in.

The strategic goal of distance learning is to provide people of any professional activity and at any place of residence with equal educational opportunities through the use of new information and communication technologies. Based on the use of distance learning solutions, the education system creates additional opportunities for updating training content, teaching methods, and knowledge dissemination.

It contributes to all levels of education. Thus, a large number of people who cannot afford studying in higher educational institutions due to the lack of financial, physical capabilities[2] or professional employment can sign up for an online course.

Online learning is also focused on the organization of corporate training. It is difficult for corporate workers to make a training schedule for them to complete traditional full-time study. Being able to independently study when they are comfortable is a key for this category of students. With distance learning, every employer have a chance to plan his workload and schedule.

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Benefits of Learning Online

You may have perhaps thought about the opportunities that online learning can offer compared to traditional full-time education. Although the classic, well-established way of education and online learning do not exclude but rather complement each other, the advantages of online learning are quite extensive.

Some of these include the following ones:

  • There is no need to pay rent or incur other costs associated with studying in the classroom;
  • You can choose a training program and study while being away from the city;
  • You can choose any educational institution even if it is located outside of your country;
  • You are not connected to the venue of the training courses and have a chance to combine work and education;
  • You can organize your time for learning, which contributes to higher motivation, better time planning, and the ability to analyze and synthesize the material being studied.

Of course, there are many great things about online learning, which are mostly associated with online learning flexibility,[3] availability, and a high level of customization of the educational process.

What is more, the advantages of  e-education compared to the traditional way of learning are also obvious:

  • The possibility of lifelong learning;
  • Students are trained independently in their own way; they choose the time and place that suits them best;
  • A variety of subjects are at your disposal;
  • The possibility to follow your own pace – students learn the subject as fast as they can; they can review the material as many times as necessary;
  • You can choose a place where you want to study – you can study the material at home, at work, etc.;
  • The opportunity to participate in the highest quality or prestigious programs – you can attend courses at the best educational institutions, which are conducted by well-known experts, regardless of where they take place;
  • Opportunity to choose your own way of studying the subject – active or passive learning, various levels of interaction: “classic” written materials (with your own notes), interactive modeling, discussion with other students (via e-mail, teleconferences), more active use of multimedia (graphics, animation, sound, etc.);
  • Practical work with various technologies – you not only get information about the material being studied but also obtain additional knowledge and skills about the use of various technologies.

Types of Online Learning Programs

Educational institutions providing online learning programs can be divided into three main categories:

Distant Universities

For example, in the USA, there are a few of such educational institutions providing bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Find a list of distant universities in the USA. Decent establishments have the necessary accreditation.

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At the same time, there are also non-accredited programs, so it is important to find out what kind of accreditation a particular program has.

Corporate Training and Courses

Such educational organizations provide trainings and programs leading to obtaining a certificate and developing or strengthening any professional skills.

As a general rule, these are non-accredited programs established in accordance with the individual requirements of clients. Therefore, it is highly important to find out information about the course structure, its means and methods of communication, as well as student support provided.

Traditional Universities Providing Online Education

Many traditional universities and colleges have recently launched a part of their programs online, thus, expanding the list of courses offered.

How to Pick a Suitable Online Course for Yourself

There are three main features defining a quality distance education program. If you want to pick an online course that will highly contribute to your professional development, then you should pay attention to the following things:

1. Course Structure

A online education program never copies the lecture program of the same/ similar course. Instead of simple full-time study program duplication, the course is to be carefully organized in such a way to involve the student in the learning process with interesting topics and themes being discussed.

Besides, the structure of the course is to provide you with more opportunities to organize the online learning process than it would be possible with full-time education.

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The main idea of any online course is that it should be focused on the student, allowing the one to set the course content based on his personal needs and professional objectives.

2. Means and Methods of Communication

An online learning program may involve a wide range of information delivery methods; it could be email, telephone, online platforms, interactive television, newsgroups, audio/ video conferencing.

Communication methods are to be as consistent as possible to your learning style. So make sure to check it beforehand so that you stay on the safe side.

Depending on a course type, they can be either synchronous or asynchronous. The former require the simultaneous participation of both tutors and students, which allows for their interaction in real time. In this case, the means of information delivery include interactive television and video conferencing.

In turn, asynchronous methods are very flexible; they allow students to choose the time convenient for them to work on the course material.

3. Support and Contact with Students

Although participating in training courses remotely, students should in no case feel isolated from each other. A truly quality program is to involve a variety of methods and techniques for creating an atmosphere of real interaction between students and a tutor.

When choosing a distance education program, clarify how students get help and support from their instructors. Ensure that there are online support, chat rooms, online bulletin boards, and other student counseling and support tools.

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How to Use Online Learning to Enhance Professional Skills

Online education is a valuable tool in a fast-paced and highly competitive working environment. Professionals and experienced workers turn to online training or distance tutoring services to advance their career paths and strengthen their knowledge.

After all, online learning improves your skills and acquire new ones without being distracted from work.

Whatever your level of training, area of interest, preferred format or schedule, you will definitely find something that suits you.

Everyone prefers to study in different ways, and online learning can give you as much time and attention as you need. Flexibility and convenience make the process of online learning more relaxed, especially for those who are extremely busy in their everyday life.

The advantages of the online learning method have already been appreciated by many large companies around the world.[4] This type of education attracts many; not only with the opportunity to train a large number of employees at once but also with its affordable price.

Thus, large enterprises reduce the costs of staff development, while maintaining high-quality training. Online corporate learning can be done both during work hours and after the business hours.

Final Thoughts

The rapid development of information technologies and the widespread access to the Internet form new requirements for modern learning.

Taking into account all its features and benefits, there is absolutely no doubt in regards of how online learning helps you grow professionally and enhance your career.

More Resources About Online Learning

Featured photo credit: Stefan Vladimirov via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

John Obstander

John is a productivity geek and a writing enthusiast who has no limits and got wings to take over the world.

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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