How do you pick an online course? upGrad CEO explains

Arjun Mohan, CEO India, upGrad speaks about the factors to keep in mind while choosing an online programme.

How do you pick an online course? upGrad CEO explains
Team Careers360 | Jan 13, 2021 - 6:19 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The online learning ecosystem was experiencing growth even before the arrival of COVID-19, and people were gradually shifting from traditional to a hybrid medium. However, the strike of the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of online learning and has made professionals, organisations, and offline institutes switch gears and accept online as a new viable option. A recent study by KPMG India and Google reports that India’s online education market is set to grow to US $1.96 billion and around 9.6 million users by 2021, from US $247 million and around 1.6 million users in 2016.

While the online learning market captures a mix of both, K-12 and post K-12 markets, let us narrow it down and learn about the online higher education space, which has picked up pace as a response to the pandemic and is pushing professionals to re-evaluate their existing skill-sets to skip career redundancy. The study further suggests that reskilling and online certifications is the largest category in India today and is currently valued at US $93 million. Individuals are now considering online learning as a viable
option to stay relevant in the rapidly-changing industry.

Such evolving circumstances have also created a range of new jobs that require digital skills, thus making 2020 a tech-dominated year. Both our current workforce and freshers are constantly looking out for industry-driven online learning solutions in order to become domain experts and future-proof their careers.

Need for online courses

The decision to opt for a programme should be aligned with the individuals’ future goals that coincide with their professional as well as personal interests. The first step while evaluating this factor is one’s requirement. One could be a full-time professional looking for a change or growth opportunities in the industry or a student aiming for a higher degree. The selection criteria should yield programmes that are backed by industry research and address the skill-demand gap in the job market.

The overall structure must bring out the minute specifics and details for students and professionals to make an informed choice. Before exploring options, individuals must be clear about their specific requirements from the programmes they want to pursue. One example of this is an MBA- whether it is a general MBA or specialisation in fields like marketing, finance, and human resources, etc.

Credibility of course

Choosing a programme that is affiliated with renowned institutions or that has received accreditations from national or international bodies is also important. It will likely be more credible. The core lies in choosing an institution that will not just provide quality online education but will also offer steadfast placement or career support. Also, online learning shouldn’t be limited to live classes but should offer a healthy mix of synchronous and asynchronous content to ensure round-the-clock learning. Online programmes, with the provision for streaming the sessions later on, need to be right in interfacing and offer low bandwidth streaming as well to cater to learners in remote locations.

Course fee

The financial aspect will also be a factor in the overall selection process of a suitable online programme. It is recommended to weigh the cost incurred on the programme and its return on the value gained, before making the final call. The type of programme, institution offering the programme, and its resultant quality, will fix the cost that is on demand. The value will be measured based on the overall construction of knowledge and skill of the student.

The sudden COVID-19 outbreak and the economic slowdown have impacted working professionals’ purchasing power. Therefore, such courses should be designed to offer ROI on online education.

Placement opportunities

The kind of placement or career opportunities the programme offers that could help professionals transition in their careers also becomes critical in the decision-making process. To assess what is suitable, candidates must consider what they want to use their new skill for – to add a feather to their experience-cap or as a kick-start opportunity in the industry. COVID-19 has certainly brought significant unrest in the job market and has made both professionals and
freshers vulnerable.

According to recent Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy data, India has recorded a spike in its unemployment rate in both urban and rural sectors in October. The unemployment rate rose to 6.98 percent in October from 6.67 percent in September. Therefore, a strategic collaboration of online institutions with a wide pool of recruiters will enable learners to attain meaningful career outcomes and will further ease the process of selecting an online programme. And lastly, the selection process must be a rigorous one with a precise review of all the individual points.

As told to Abhay Anand

Note: Zubin Gandevia took over as CEO, UpGrad India from January. This interview was conducted before the change.

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