Online learning: Diverse course selection offers multiple opportunities (2023)

You would be forgiven for thinking the recent boom in online learning is confined to a few niche areas – but the truth is they are taking off across an expansive range of areas and disciplines, many of which are not the traditional online offerings.

According to Cecilia Munro, principal of Ballyfermot College of Further Education, online courses have developed considerably in the last few years, both in terms of prevalence and choice.

“Those involved in education and training will remember how legacy online courses were primarily based around computer qualifications such as the use of IT applications, or coding and programming,” she says.

“However, there are many more options today to suit many different professions.”


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For example, the UCD Professional Academy offers an online course in hospitality management where you can learn for three hours a week, online, how a modern hotel works.

Munro says there is a presumption that learners will have a background in hotel operations which will help them successfully complete the online course.

Furthermore, if you happen to work in the industry, many businesses today will pay for your online course if you put together a realistic proposal on how this course can be of benefit to you and your workplace.

“As you know, it can be difficult to hire staff for this industry and having an online specialist course available for three hours a week over 12 weeks is manageable to complete,” Munro argues.

Another surprise area where online learning is an option is carpentry. If you are completing an apprenticeship in carpentry or have an interest in carpentry and want to supplement your learning, you have the option of completing several free online course with

The website is an education platform for higher education, teaching workplace skills and exploring new interests, that provides certificate courses and accredited diploma courses.

It offers courses such as Introduction to Carpentry, Introduction to Construction Methods, and Introduction to Formwork and Joinery. Again, there is an assumption learners have access to tools or a workshop to practice. The courses are two to three hours long.


Elsewhere, the City of Dublin Education and Training Board has partnered with Google to offer free Google Certificates to those who are interested in upskilling in one of six specific areas.

Munro describes this as “an excellent opportunity” for those of who are interested in a small manageable course that takes place over a short period of time, but gives you an industry qualification.

“Employers today are interested in applicants who continuously show professional and personal development, and participating in one of these courses will definitely enhance any CV,” she points out.

In reality, these online courses are known as “micro-credentials” which are short, competency-based and personalised learning experiences that teach students a range of skills.

They are often completed online, on-demand and over a number of days or weeks. They provide certification or validation of mastering a specific skill or career discipline.

Ciara Ní Fhloinn, flexible learning manager with Solas, says there are plenty of surprising course offerings on the group’s eCollege platform.

“While online learning is sometimes associated with IT related disciplines, learners might be surprised to learn that a wide range of business skills and graphic design skills are available,” she says.

“Learners can check out our Microsoft, ICDL, Adobe, project management and Digital Marketing Institute courses to learn more.

“We have also recently introduced a short course in collaboration with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland called Energy and You: Reduce Your Use.

“The course is aimed at proving reliable information and expert tips for reducing energy use and costs in the home and workplace. The duration of the course is about 90 minutes and it is an ideal place for people to start on their sustainable energy journey.”

Nuala McGuinn, director of the Centre for Adult Learning and Professional Development at University of Galway, highlights the specialist diploma the college runs in medical device science. It is fully online, and is part-time for one year.

“Like all of courses in the area of adult education, this diploma has been developed in response to industry needs,” she says.

“What you get to learn is a specialist knowledge of the medical devices sector and a technical knowledge and the skills required for design, development and manufacture of medical devices. It also delves into best practice and regulatory standards within the sector.

“You will understand the science and engineering behind medical devices and study human anatomy, physiology and disease states which can be monitored or improved by medical devices.”

McGuinn points out that Galway is one of only a small number of places in the world regarded as a global medtech hub.

“This course feeds that by offering upskilling for career advancement within the sector,” she says. “But it also opens a door for someone trying to re-skill and eyeing a career change or a move west.

“Students who come through it have gained knowledge – through practice and assessment – on a range of technical and transferable skills relevant to meeting future needs in the workforce.

“But it works on a deeper level too as the university has developed partnerships, teaching and research expertise in this area because medtech has grown in the region so successfully.”

Closer to the midlands, Tony Dalton, director of further education and training services at the Laois & Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB), says that even though there is much focus on the green and digital economies, the sector will continue to provide diversity.

“This includes courses that are focused on foundation or transversal skills development, including literacy and numeracy to build the core capabilities that will allow participants to move on to more advanced learning opportunities,” he says.

A range of programmes, such as Youthreach, Back to Education Initiative, and Skills for Work, are focused more formally on facilitating pathways to other education and training.

LOETB has partnered with the South East Technological University (SETU) to develop pathways in the business subject areas to enable students to undertake higher education programmes in FET centres in Laois and Offaly.

It also offers a progression route to SETU-based programmes for those wishing to progress beyond degree level.

Other FET programmes (for example, traineeships, apprenticeships, specific skills training) are based around the principle of work-based learning and seek to lead directly to sustainable jobs for participants.

Some of these involve employment from the outset in the case of apprenticeships, including all apprentices being employed from day one until the end of their programme.

“Apprenticeship has undergone significant changes over the past few years to reflect the changing environment in which FET is embedded,” says Dalton.

“It offers fully accredited and recognised schemes that allow people starting off in an industry to get work-based training – as well as a solid education and qualification – until they become fully qualified.”

There are two distinct kinds of apprenticeships – the traditional four-year craft apprenticeships, and apprenticeships in other areas of industry.

Craft apprenticeships involve some sort of manual work, such as plumbing, carpentry, mechanics or electrical, and incorporate three periods of off-the-job training, in ETBs and technological universities.

Apprenticeships in new areas of industry also include elements of on- and off-the-job training, and work with various education and training providers, or industry-led groups.

Apprenticeships last between two and four years and can vary from industry to industry and programme to programme.

There are 66 diverse types of apprenticeships available, with more in development, spanning industries that include engineering, construction, motor, electrical, finance, hospitality and ICT.

In 2023, almost 9,000 employers are using apprenticeship to help grow their business with more than 25,000 apprentices currently completing their training.

“Nowadays there are apprenticeships available across all kinds of industries, such as scaffolding, accountancy, plumbing, electrical, computing, culinary arts, pharmaceuticals, sales, property and many more,” Dalton adds.

Other online offerings that might surprise include the professional diploma in law and technology at University of Limerick.

This online course is designed as “a knowledge gap solution” to both legal and tech professionals where there is a “slip between the lip and the cup; the intersection where legal meets tech”, according to a university spokesman.

“It’s for those within the traditional legal field needing to embrace the legal implications of emerging technology,” he says. “It’s also for those within the tech sector who need to understand legal implications and parameters.”

The university also runs a new professional diploma in sustainable work, delivered by KBS.

It places an emphasis on sustainable business; emerging technologies; tech for non-tech; new ways of working; the employment relationship; and shaping the future of work.

“Those are some relevant topics in a post-Covid world where tech is setting the tempo in an increasing way,” adds the spokesman.


What are the advantages of taking online classes? ›

Advantages of Online Learning
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Reduced Costs. ...
  • More Free Time. ...
  • Increased Course Variety. ...
  • Career Advancement Opportunities. ...
  • Increased Collaboration. ...
  • Personalized Education. ...
  • Enhanced Time Management Skills.

What were the challenges met in online class? ›

Abundant Distractions, Lack of Discipline

Most students find learning online boring and often complain of lacking the motivation to make it through a class.

Why are online learning platforms important? ›

Helps people develop a global perspective

They can access online courses and materials from around the world, giving them a broader perspective on the world and their place in it. This can be especially beneficial for employees working in global companies or looking to expand their knowledge.

What are three benefits of an online course compared to a traditional classroom course? ›

5 Benefits of Online Courses vs. A Traditional Classroom
  • Schedule flexibility. There is an incredible amount of flexibility that online courses can offer. ...
  • Cost-Friendly. ...
  • Boost Career Advancement. ...
  • Self-Discipline. ...
  • Course Variety.
Oct 22, 2019

What is pros and cons of online education? ›

42% of companies that use e-learning generate more income.
Pros of Online LearningCons of Online Learning
FlexibilityLess Social Interaction
AffordabilityLimited Course Availability
IndividualizationRequires High Degree of Self Discipline
Jan 10, 2023

What are the 3 main advantages of eLearning? ›

Top 10 Benefits of eLearning
  • E-learning Fully Adjusts to Your Needs. Online studying is designed to accommodate everyone's needs. ...
  • Reduced Cost. ...
  • Remote Approach To Various Classes. ...
  • Transfer Credits & Commuting. ...
  • Instant Career Advancement. ...
  • Quick Delivery. ...
  • Scalability. ...
  • Consistency & Teacher Scarcity.
Apr 17, 2023

What is the biggest problem with online learning? ›

Lack of Motivation

Due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, some students find it hard to focus during online classes. The physical absence of teachers or classmates takes away the sense of urgency and motivation that students need to attend classes on time, meet deadlines, and make progress.

What are the effects of online learning? ›

Some of the positive effects of virtual learning on students include increased efficiency in learning, accessibility and affordability, improvement of students' attendance, and more!

How can we make online learning more effective? ›

Set Yourself Up for Success from the Beginning
  1. Establish a productive learning environment. ...
  2. Set a schedule for completing and reviewing assignments. ...
  3. Seek virtual interactions with your peers.
  4. Use the 'chunking' strategy to section out tasks.
  5. Try to increase your interest in the work.

Why do people struggle with online classes? ›

Some kids have trouble with online classes because they lack the structure that in-person school traditionally provides. Additionally, students who have issues with anxiety, attention, or learning challenges may struggle to adapt to the different expectations and format of online classes.

What is the best part of virtual learning? ›

7 Benefits of a Virtual Classroom
  • Access to coursework from anywhere at any time. ...
  • Combination of structure and freedom. ...
  • Effective time management. ...
  • Expanded world view. ...
  • Asynchronous discussions with classmates. ...
  • Immediate feedback on tests. ...
  • Sharpened digital skills.

Is online education more effective than traditional learning? ›

More Social Interaction and Collaboration:

The traditional education model allows students to interact with each other in and outside of school. But those are mainly face-to-face or telephonic interactions. Online learning model allows further interaction by providing an online platform for discussions.

Is online learning the future of education? ›

Online education enables the teacher and the student to set their own learning pace, and there's the added flexibility of setting a schedule that fits everyone's agenda. As a result, using an online educational platform allows for a better balance of work and studies, so there's no need to give anything up.

What is the level of effectiveness of online learning platform? ›

Based on the results, it was found that the implementation of online learning was effective. 100% of the lecturers implemented online learning using LMS, of which 86.67% were skilled at using the LMS platform in carrying out online learning.

Why online classes are better than traditional classes? ›

Flexible scheduling

One of their obvious advantages is your flexibility when taking classes online. Even though deadlines are still a part of their studies, students who take online courses can choose when to study, finish assignments, and attend lectures while simultaneously managing their household, work, and school.

Why is online learning better than in person? ›

Greater flexibility

Because you can watch lectures or complete coursework whenever it's convenient for you, online classes can be more easily worked into your busy schedule.

Is online learning more cost effective? ›

Because of the lack of inherent costs of the typical brick and mortar education, virtual classes can save learners thousands of dollars on their tuition.

What are the conclusion of pros and cons of online learning? ›

In conclusion, online classes offer several advantages, including flexibility, cost savings, and access to resources. However, they also come with certain disadvantages, such as isolation, technical difficulties, lack of structure, and reduced interaction.

What is the concept of online learning? ›

Online learning refers to instruction that is delivered electronically through various multimedia and Internet platforms and applications. It is used interchangeably with other terms such as web-based learning, e-learning, computer-assisted instruction, and Internet-based learning.

Is online learning as good as face to face? ›

Elearning is consistent – Classroom experiences largely depend on the instructor. The same course material can be delivered by two different facilitators with vastly different impacts on the learners. Elearning online training ensures a level of consistency that is not achievable with face to face learning.

What are two 2 benefits of eLearning? ›

eLearning speeds up the process for learners who go at a quicker pace, saving time and resources for the ultimate in efficiency. eLearning can also allow learners to test out of material they've already learned, also saving time.

What are five basic tools would you need for effective online learning? ›

Five basic tools for effective online learning are a laptop, a camera, a microphone, an internet connection, and adequate lighting.

What is the biggest challenge facing education today? ›

Teacher shortage: There is a shortage of qualified and experienced teachers in many parts of the world. This can lead to overcrowded classrooms and compromised education. 5. Teacher retention: Retention of quality teachers is a major concern in education systems as most leave because of low income or job burnout.

What is the conclusion of e learning? ›

E-learning is not just a change of technology. It is part of a redefinition of how we as a species transmit knowledge, skills, and values to younger generations of workers and students. This book makes a few predictions of how e-learning and the functions it serves will continue to develop.

How does online learning affect social skills? ›

They may also miss face-to-face interactions with fellow students. For some students, this lack of social interaction – and the accompanying need to be self-motivated to get their work done – can lead to feelings of isolation.

What is the impact of e learning on students? ›

(2020) also concluded that e-Learning has an impact on student learning outcomes. Baber (2020) confirmed that the factors–interaction in the classroom, course structure, instructor knowledge, and facilitation in e-Learning systems are positively influencing students' perceived learning outcomes.

How online learning offers more benefits than drawbacks for introverts? ›

In conclusion, online learning offers numerous benefits for introverts. It provides an environment that caters to their unique learning style and personality traits, allowing them to learn at their own pace, reduce social pressure, and express themselves in ways that are comfortable for them.

What is the most effective learning method in online learning? ›

Webinars/Live learning sessions

Easy to use and with no shortage of software options, webinars or live learning sessions are a key method to utilize within online learning programs.

What are the disadvantages of online learning for students? ›

Disadvantages of Online Classes
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction. One of the major disadvantages of online education can be the lack of physical interaction, which can make it more challenging for you to communicate with your fellow students and tutors. ...
  • Difficulty staying motivated. ...
  • Limited access to resources and support.

What are the distractions in online learning? ›

Top distractions for students include social media, texting, television, and family, which can pull one's attention away from the task at hand and diminish productivity.

Why online classes are more comfortable? ›

Although online courses maintain the same academic requirements, learners may feel less challenged. This phenomenon occurs due to the advantages of online education that include academic and career flexibility, cost savings, and less stress when scheduling courses.

How is online learning impacted by visual learning style? ›

Visual learners tend to prefer studying alone in quiet settings, making online education an effective option. Online education also takes the pressure out of face-to-face communication, which can be daunting to some visual learners. Auditory learners learn best by listening and participating.

What do students think about online learning? ›

In 2020, only 25 percent of continuers and 19 percent of new students thought online courses were better quality; but now, 37 percent of continuers (a plurality) and 29 percent of new students believe online courses are better.

What do you think are some of the benefits of doing a virtual experience? ›

On the other hand, virtual experiences offer convenience as well as increased flexibility since you don't need to travel or commit yourself full-time. Additionally, some programs may allow for a combination of in-person and virtual components which can provide the best of both worlds.

What are the most important benefits of using virtual? ›

  • increased memory retention and decreased cost.
  • compliance with travel and security regulations.
  • high video resolutions and ultra-realistic graphics.
  • collecting users' personal data for marketing purposesAns:
Mar 6, 2023

Is online learning just as effective as classroom learning? ›

While there may be certain social benefits to face-to-face education options, there really is no difference between online vs. classroom learning in terms of the quality of education. Both cover the same material and require the same exams.

Will online learning replace traditional learning? ›

Online education offers many advantages, such as convenience, cost savings, and flexibility, but it lacks the social interaction and guidance that is present in traditional classrooms. Ultimately, online education can be a great supplement to traditional education, but it cannot replace it.

What do teachers like about online learning? ›

Online learning enables teachers to tap into this realm of constant learning by embracing the real-world application of theory through multimedia, video, chat, and interactivity. Educators can effectively harness the power of everyday technology to bring educational theories into the classroom.

Is online learning becoming more popular? ›

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), public colleges enrolled about 8.5 million online students in 2021. Another 2.7 million remote learners attended private schools, including 1.9 million at nonprofit institutions and nearly 800,000 at for-profit schools.

Is online school better for mental health? ›

Learn From Home. Learning from home may allow students to learn in a more comfortable environment. Students who experience bullying, anxiety, discrimination, or harassment may find that online learning benefits their mental health.

How much more effective is active learning? ›

An often-referenced metastudy of more than 225 separate studies of learning found that, by every measure, active learning is more effective for every kind of student, in every discipline, than the traditional lecture mode or the question-and-answer guided discussion method.

What percentage of progress is eLearning? ›

Research has it that the average completion rates for an eLearning course are less than 15%. That means that only a small percentage of learners complete online training. For this reason, there's a need to find effective ways of encouraging learners to complete courses online.

Are online classes worth it? ›

Online programs are absolutely worth it, depending on the student's circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, online programs are not easier than on-campus programs. Online programs aren't necessarily more affordable, but they can be.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of online classes essay? ›

In conclusion, online classes offer several advantages, including flexibility, cost savings, and access to resources. However, they also come with certain disadvantages, such as isolation, technical difficulties, lack of structure, and reduced interaction.

Why are online classes easier? ›

For some people, online programs are easier because they offer a flexible schedule. In addition, people with great time management skills and a sense of responsibility can excel in online classes. However, online education may be more challenging for those who enjoy learning in a classroom environment.

Is online learning more effective? ›

Students Gain More Knowledge Than In Standard Classes

Because online courses provide students with full control over their studies, they can work at their own pace.

Is learning through online courses more effective? ›

IBM have found that participants learn five times more material in online learning courses using multimedia content than in traditional face to face courses. Because online courses give students full control over their own learning, students are able to work at their own speed.

Is online learning better than in school learning? ›

More Comfortable Learning Environment

The most visible difference between classroom learning and online learning is each mode's physical environment, the latter of which is typically more comfortable. Online learning allows students to seek an education at their convenience and in the setting of their choosing.

Why is online school better for anxiety? ›

First, online schools allow students to work in familiar environments. This can help put students at ease and make it easier for them to handle difficulties or frustrations with school material. Additionally, without social stressors to worry about, students can focus all of their attention on learning.

Why is online school more comfortable? ›

A Safe, Comfortable Environment

With online classes, students have fewer social distractions — a learning advantage when in middle school or high school. Instead of focusing on their appearance or friends sitting just inches away, students focus on the work in front of them.

What are the emotional effects of online learning? ›

Repetitive activities, transfer of educational mode to distance (virtual) learning, and change in social life amplified the prevalence of psychological stress, anxiety, depression, and acute stress reactions among university students [6].

What are pros and cons of online vs in person classes? ›

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Online vs. In-Person Learning
  • Contents. ...
  • Scheduling Flexibility. ...
  • Lower Tuition and Boarding Costs. ...
  • Increased Networking Opportunities. ...
  • Perfect for Busy Parents and Workers. ...
  • More Equitable, Accessible Learning. ...
  • Distraction-Free Environment. ...
  • Hands-On Learning.

What is the biggest disadvantage of online learning? ›

What are the 5 disadvantages of online classes?
  • Lack of face-to-face interaction.
  • Difficulty staying motivated.
  • Limited access to resources and support.
  • Technical difficulties.
  • Isolation.


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