How Online Learning Can Benefit Remote Workforce Managing Your Online TeamChris JankulovskiFebruary 23, 20153 As we’ve seen in one of our previous articles, the rise of cloud computing and mobile technology has greatly influenced the development of remote working and freelancing in general. The similar transformation is happening in the education sector as well, where the great availability of online resources creates new possibilities for contemporary professionals to build their CVs. This may be essentially important for freelancers and remote staff, who can make use of these resources to improve their career prospects by gaining relevant certificates in the chosen areas. More importantly, they can take their favorite courses any time they want, which helps them better organize their time for work and education. What makes MOOCs great for remote staff One of the most conspicuous trends in modern education is the increased popularity of online learning and using web-based resources for constant improvement. The variety of platforms now available for academic and professional improvement are known under the name of MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses, which keep growing in number and quality. Image Credit: Division of Student Life – The University of Iowa Even though perhaps primarily intended for people who lack time or money to attend higher education institutions, these platforms are particularly appealing to modern professionals. This is confirmed in a last year’s study by the University of Pennsylvania of 35000 online learners, which suggests that it is employees who most frequently engage in online courses. Based on responses, 69% of all MOOC participants are employees, 80% of which already has a college degree. Furthermore, MOOCs let you learn at your own pace by allowing you to enroll into a course any time you want and take lessons at intervals that fit your schedule. This is especially important because remote employees may be missing out on seminars and trainings within the company. Therefore, by taking corresponding online courses, they can eliminate potential differences between employees who work in the office and those who don’t. Managers’ perspective Even though you may fear that online courses may not be considered relevant by some managers research shows that this is not really the case. In fact, managers are increasingly receptive of such career-building efforts, partly due to the fact that the pedagogy of these courses is developed in accordance to the needs of modern job market. When it comes to remote staff, online courses have another benefit – they let managers see an employee’s progress at any point. Therefore, in terms of performance tracking, there’s little difference between on-site trainings and online courses. This is also a motivation for course takers to give their best at completing their assignments on time and proving that they’re willing to keep improving sets of skills relevant for a specific position. Choosing the right courses Image Credit: Damien Walmsley Over the last few years, both the quality and the variety of online courses have greatly improved and now they cover a wide variety of professional areas. Therefore, current employees can relatively easily identify the best courses for their professional progress and start taking proper trainings that will make them more valuable to the office, even when they are not physically present. Given the validity of certificates obtained this way, chances are managers will recognize such efforts since they prove one’s dedication to the company. Conclusion The rise of the Internet obviously has had a two-fold effect on the modern job market: while it keeps creating remote working opportunities on one hand, it also gives more possibilities for professional improvement on the other. This obviously has a set of benefits for remote workers, who can use the available online tools to improve their productivity and work on specific skills. Special thanks to: Jared Stein for the main image, follow him on Flickr. About the Author Olivia Still is a blogger and marketing consultant for a number of Australia-based companies. Her fields of expertise are branding and online marketing.