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DCE Magazine

Leveling the Playing Field with Online Education

Fall 2021

Online learning has been on the rise for some time. But the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns sent its adoption rate into overdrive. Today, almost every major college in the world has integrated some form of remote learning into its traditional programs, and these new technologies are here to stay.

While this will change how current students learn and interact with each other, the growth of online learning has much broader potential. Accessible and affordable education means more people than ever can enroll in classes and programs, whatever their situation. Online education can help single parents become working professionals. It can give late bloomers a second chance at the job they’ve always dreamed of. And it can help those stuck in unrewarding careers make a positive change. In short, online education is removing the barriers that prevent people from becoming the best versions of themselves.

Skills, not qualifications

Having a degree is never going to harm your job prospects or career opportunities. Studies have found that university graduates earn around 20% more over their working life than those without a degree. But now that more people than ever have a degree, it’s important to find an extra edge to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

That’s where online learning can help. Although many online learning programs provide a broad overview of a particular subject, others take a more skills-focused approach. In other words, they are tailor-made to equip you with the specific skills employers are looking for. And shorter online learning programs mean you can pick up a new skill in months rather than years. Also, the online format means it is possible for many to complete these programs without taking a career break.

Online education is going mainstream

A recent FutureLearn study found almost half of all employers see an online qualification as a big bonus during the job application process. And 58% of those surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed with the idea that people with online qualifications have a greater earning potential. Having the right technical skills is only part of the reason. Employers see an online qualification as a sign of independence, initiative, and personal responsibility. It proves you can take control of your future, manage your time effectively, and see a task through to the end under minimal supervision. Every good company wants employees like that.

Online learning creates more opportunities

Online learning is the next big leap forward in the democratization of higher learning. In theory, it means that anyone with a laptop and a WiFi connection now has access to education and training that could change their lives for the better. What’s more, education doesn’t have to end when you leave college. Instead, it can be an ongoing process where you’re continually developing and gaining new skills, and taking on fresh personal and career challenges. As such, we’re no longer pigeonholed into one job or profession. And a previous college degree or qualification doesn’t have to define your future career options anymore.

The flexibility of online learning has other benefits, too. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of how different people learn. However, there is still a tendency toward a one-sizefits- all approach to university curricula and teaching styles. Online education provides genuine alternatives. Message chat boards give shy or reticent students a chance to participate in ‘classroom’ discussions. At the same time, video conferencing apps provide the same opportunity for the more gregarious. Students can rewatch pre-recorded lectures, allowing them to process information at their own pace. Or they can watch these lectures at a time when their brain works best, which is great news for the night owls who are forced to struggle through those 9am Monday morning lectures.

This flexible approach to learning is an excellent opportunity for professionals looking to continue their education while working. In fact, online and part-time remote courses are an increasingly popular option for professionals looking for a career change, a step up the corporate ladder, or a lateral shift to another area within their current industry.

Continuing education meets career preparation

UCI DCE offers a wide range of fully online courses and certificates that can help you land a job or promotion in competitive industries, including law, business, finance, engineering, and healthcare.

Or maybe you’re more interested in positioning yourself to achieve big things in emerging industries like data analytics and machine learning? If so, our Tech Programs are the right option for you. The Machine and Deep Learning program asks the big questions about the future of artificial intelligence while also showing students how to develop self-improving systems that will increase a business or organization’s ability to compete in the global, digital marketplace. Other high-tech programs include Predictive Analytics, Cybersecurity, Python Programming, and the 21st century’s sexiest industry: Data Science.

“I went into the course without advanced knowledge of IT,” says one recent graduate of the Full Stack Web Development certificate. “The pace of the course was fast, but that actually helped me. I was pushed to focus and learn the knowledge I was lacking. I learned so much new stuff relating to IT. And the culture at UCI was very welcoming.”

At UCI, we understand that the future of education is flexible, remote, and accessible. But, more importantly, we have what you need to upgrade your skills and advance your career in a way that suits you.

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