I believe that this needs to be broken down into 2 groups to ensure that I cover off the aspects that I have come across in all my time of reading on the web.
The 2 groups I will focus on, will be:
1) learning for a professional qualification
2) Learning for yourself
The reason for splitting these out, is because they generally have different 'reliable' sources, and in the second group, the onus is on you to make sure your learning is as effective as possible.
Let us start with group 1- Learning for a professional qualification.
These types of qualifications are necessary for you to do your job, or do your job better. The great thing about these types of qualifications, are that the source material is much better and will reference sources much better. The course itself will usually be self contained â€“ that is, all the reading you will need to do will be already there. It will generally be broken down into easy to read pages or paragraphs which will lead to easier revision later on.
Online courses generally will fork out into two different routes. One which will have a test at the end of a module which can be completed online- these are great because it shows that you have the required skill on the spot, and the second which has a sit down exam which is adjudicated. These would generally have more credence to hiring managers due to the inability to rinse and repeat answers, or to have helping guides while you are doing the test at the end. Both can be really good for showing skills and the ability to learn.
Group 2 â€“ Learning for yourself
This is probably the most fulfilling, due to the fact that you are learning what you want to learn. When Human's do something, it is much easier to do it if you WANT to do it!
The ability to learn things online is huge and vast, most of the time it is figuring out WHAT you want to learn, and not learning as of itself!
The easiest way to fulfil this criteria, is to look within yourself, and decide what you enjoy doing. This could be a category that covers a multitude of different things. Take sport for exampleâ€¦ You could easily apply that to learning about a new sport (which there are thousands) or you could go a different way, and learn about a sport in a different way â€“ for example learning the rules of the game as a referee would know them. This would open up a lot more avenues for learning, as you could then go on to do professional qualifications in refereeing of your chosen sport.
The opportunities for learning are immense, as we all have diverse hobbies and interests. The downside to this, is that we all have different views on these hobbies and interests. What you believe to be fact, can often turn out to be opinion, and it is important to distinguish between the two to ensure that you are unbiased in your learning. The great thing is that when you go into trying to learn something, you are saying to yourself that you do not know everything, and you are open to new ideas.
However, there is a little pit fall in this, as other people who do the writing have their opinions and facts as well. This is the major problem with learning online which is not 'canonical' or coming from an authorised source. By reading people's opinions, you are taking in their point of view that THEY believe to be fact, when in actual fact it is their opinion. This can be great fun to try to separate fact from the fiction!
When learning professionally recognised skills and qualifications, the online space is brilliant and for the most part very quick in seeing recognised results.
When learning online for oneself, It is very easy to be drawn into learning online, as it is such a goldmine of different people's opinions, and most of it is written in good faith. A good writer will leave you to form your own opinions on what is right, or at least back up the facts that they state with compelling proof.
To leave you with a parting shotâ€¦ Have a look into the compelling evidence to suggest man has not landed on the moonâ€¦ come to your own conclusions, and see if the reported FACT is different to the Made up FICTION!