As a graduate instructor who teaches primarily online, I hear a lot of people say they choose to learn online because it’s what best fits with their own schedule. But I also see the many benefits of online learning as directly translatable to the skills you need to excel in the workforce.
I find it especially important for professors, students and employers to know that the same skills you’re using as an online learner are the skills that employers want to see.
Here are the top five skills you can develop through online education that translate to the workplace:
One of the best benefits of online learning is the ability to engage with others on a daily basis. In the online classroom, conversations aren’t limited to once a week the way they are in the traditional classroom, meaning that you have peers and faculty to bounce ideas off as things are occurring in your daily world. This helps keep your studies connected to your practice, rather than living solely in the academic realm.
As an instructor, I see the ability to continue to learn throughout the week and engage in different conversations that keep you connected with the material is so much more fulfilling than many other educational experiences, and I hear that from students all the time too.
2. Cross-Cultural Collaboration
One of the things I love most about online learning is that you have the opportunity to interact with people from all around the world. Businesses are looking for employees who can innovate, and innovation often comes from outside your immediate world. Being exposed to new ideas from other professionals in other countries may spark your own innovative ideas that turn out to be valuable for your organization.
3. Virtual Collaboration
Learning to effectively work with others across the virtual environment can make you an effective leader. Personally, I see the use of technology and the creation of a process, making decisions about what should be discussed in-persone or electronically and the technical know-how to make it all work.
4. Critical Thinking
Online learning facilitates the ability to think critically about what you do every day. My goal in the classroom is to challenge you to think differently. Employers want you to do that, too – to think critically in your role at work. Mastering this skill is what will set you apart as a student, and as an employee.
5. Time Management and Self Motivation
One of the things that we all know our employers expect is for employes to manage their time well. It’s never enough to be at your desk on time in the morning and stay through the end of the day; most of us are expected to get more projects done in less time. Online classes keep you on a regular schedule of making and meeting deadlines, allowing you to practice managing your time and staying productive week-to-week.
As an instructor, I expect my students to be independent, to learn on their own, and to engage with the material I’m teaching. It’s the same thing in a job: Employers want you to be self-motivated, to go after things that interest you and seek new opportunities and ways of doing things. The more you put your heart into it – whether it’s learning online or working for your employer – the more you’ll succeed.
What skills from online learning do you use in the workplace? Share with us in the comments.