BY RAYMOND CALBAY
"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty," says Henry Ford. Where innovation is the key to success in many industries, it becomes every professional's responsibility to keep up with new knowledge, skills, and trends. But between juggling tight work deadlines, adjusting in a foreign culture, and regularly reconnecting with family and friends back home, most overseas Filipinos just won't have the time to enroll in a brick-and-mortar institution.
Books, videos, and multimedia resources readily offer food for thought. But for that extra push, a good alternative to try is online education. Not bounded by commute and classroom time, you're free to hit course materials and complete the activities at your own pace. As long as you can manage some trade-offs, such as not getting instant feedback on your questions, you're very much in control of your learning progress. The best part is you can log on to your virtual class wherever you want - be it in a public library or even in your own bedroom.
Short coursesWeb-based short courses are gaining ground these days. I've recently completed a short course through Coursera. Coursera courses are offered by top-tier universities such as Princeton and Stanford and are taught by highly esteemed professors. Have I mentioned that it's free? Yup, totally free! In some courses (like the one I took on Gamification), you can even get a certificate if you pass the requirements such as quizzes, written assignments and final exams. The range of courses to choose from include programming and computational methods to poetry and philosophy. (If you're an OFW dazed with money responsibilities, check out financial literacy basics.) For support, you'll find lots of students from diverse nationalities (Filipinos included!) in online study groups. Some alternatives to check out include EDx and Khan Academy.
If you're looking for a particular professional qualification (such as project management, leadership strategy, or multimedia basics) and are willing to spend modest tuition fees, you can try training providers such as GIZ e-Academy. Backed by the German government, GIZ courses are low-cost, tutor-supported, and quality-controlled. Since there's a limit to the number of students who can enroll, the learning outcomes are more targeted. You can directly apply concepts to your professional needs. A college degree is usually an entry requirement for some of these programs. When I enrolled in GIZ last year, I was satisfied with the scheduled synchronous discussions and as well as inputs on assignments from the course facilitators. On a side note, if you're into the content business, be sure to check out Poynter's NewsU too for learning more about multimedia.
Formal degreesYou can also engage in full-blown degree programs (even tuition-free, such as the case in UoPeople). Locally, the University of the Philippines through its Open University (UPOU) arm, spearheaded online education for Filipinos. UPOU offers accredited programs straight up from the associate's degree to the Ph.D. level. Some graduates of the institution include ranking government officials, armed force personnel, film/TV personalities, and of course, overseas Filipinos. From enrollment, class discussions, to grade inquiry, everything is conveniently done online.
So what could you expect if you decide to pursue further studies with UPOU? "The professors are there just to layout the syllabus and grade your outputs, but they will not spoon-feed the lesson like they do in college," Riyadh-based Pink Tarha blogs on her experience as a Master of Development Communication student at UPOU. "They are available through email in case you need clarifications. But all in all, you will be entirely responsible for you success as an OU student."
Once you decide to further your education, drive and determination are important to accomplish your study goals. Education is one of the best and lasting investments you can have. Drop us a comment to share what you think of online learning. We'll collect some tips to stay ahead of your courses in one of our future posts.