There are lots of online training companies, which can make it a challenge to decide which one is right for you. If you are looking for an online instructor-led course with mentoring, then you will want to do your research to see if the course provides you with the support and mentoring that you will need.
So how do e-learning companies compare? Good question. Not all e-learning companies share our view of ‘mentored learning’. So when it comes to your education, you’ll want to make sure that you know what you’re buying. So how can you know if you are sentenced to email limbo? It’s tough, but here are some questions you might want to ask and things you might want to do.
Read the testimonials and look for instructor accolades
Any reputable e-learning site will have a list of student testimonials on their courses. If they don’t, don’t take their courses. We list our student testimonials on each of the course description pages and on a separate testimonials page. We’re extremely proud of what people have to say about our courses. For example, here is what Judy Ferril of Positive Solutions, Inc. had to say about one of our instructors:
“I am currently enrolled in your Professional XML Authoring Course with Susan Bodnik as my instructor. It is a very challenging course, but I am enjoying it. I feel as if I am on my way to developing a good skill set. One thing that impressed me about Online-learning.com is if I have a question (even before enrolling), there is always a quick response. This is critical when distance is involved. Susan is very good about getting me through difficult issues and keeping in touch with the class.”
Does the company offer profiles of the instructors?
We insist on putting our instructor’s names and bios on each course for two reasons. First, we believe it is more credible for you as a consumer so obviously it helps us ‘promote’ our courses. Second, we believe it is important for our instructors to take ownership and pride in the courses they mentor.
Am I able to contact the instructor before and during the course?
If you’re really interested in a particular course and have some questions, try sending the company an email and ask for the specific instructor to answer it. Then see how many hours, days, weeks, or months it takes them to respond.
What is the relationship between the course experts and the courses?
Again, any reputable e-learning site will outline who is associated with the company. They should also be able to tell you what role those people play in developing and reviewing course materials.
How much time do they plan to spend marking the assignments?
Our instructors average about two hours marking a six-page assignment. Obviously this number will vary greatly depending upon the quality of the assignment. Weak assignments can take three to four times as long to mark than an ‘A’ paper that is clear, concise and error-free. But it is this extended attention to detail and marking that makes the difference between good and bad mentoring. A thoroughly marked assignment, with links to the problem areas and their resolution, can do more than whole other courses where you receive a grade and a comment like ‘poorly expressed.’ The subsequent revisions usually produce a work well above anything the student has ever done before.
How many hours do they allocate to student support?
To be honest, the number of hours for student support varies greatly. Some students require extensive support and may require several emails per day with lots of advice throughout the assignments. Student support is typically heaviest at the start of the course when everything is new. Other surges occur in the days before assignment submissions. Scheduling our resources to meet these demands expeditiously is probably the hardest task from the instructor’s point of view.
The advantage is that we don’t place any limit on the support that a student requests. So those who need the extra guidance are able to receive the help they need.
Ask how many people actually complete their courses
Depending upon which report you read, e-learning dropout rates range from 65% to 80%. At Online-learning.com, our rate is between 15% and 20% depending upon the course. We feel it is a reflection of our mentored learning model and because we employ instructors who care about their students.
Ask how many people have jobs after they graduate
Like it or not, education today is about preparing students for jobs. So the mark of a good course would be its placement rate. At Online-learning.com, many of our students are already employed before they take our courses. They come to our courses to refresh or upgrade their skills. As a result, it is impossible for us to make the claim that our mentored process gets people jobs. It does, however, lend credence to the fact that our courses are perceived to be credible by industry professionals and their employers.
Make an informed decision
Before you enroll in an online instructor-led course, make sure you do your research so that you can be sure that you will receive timely and experienced support. Quality interaction with a mentor can make a big difference in your learning success.