Yes, I admit it, I love learning.  I’m an avid reader and I enjoy both in class and virtual learning experiences but I must say, I prefer the online environment to the physical classroom environment for project management learning. I know the arguments that critics have about it … it doesn’t have the same social bonding benefits as meeting face-to-face, it’s hard to demonstrate skills, it’s not as fun, etc. And I admit that there are some people it doesn’t work for. But to many others (especially those who are computer savvy, good readers, and self-motivated) it is a valuable learning method.  Consider the benefits!

The Internet is the Work Field for Project Management
Learning project management online helps us practice in the same virtual environment where many of us, as project managers will be working. Most professional project managers today are working with multiple virtual team members and vendors. At a minimum, you are using e-mail and instant messaging (often even when your co-workers are located in the same building). In today’s business world, some project managers rarely meet their project stakeholders, communicating primarily through posting project reports and information to project portals and tracking systems. Therefore it is important to feel comfortable communicating and working online. What could be a better simulation of this than online courses?

Save the Logistical Hassles
Driving, parking, and finding the classroom, is not value-added time! I can think of many meetings and training events where I have found myself having to drop what I am doing and rushing to make it on time.  And what about those times where you arrive to find that the meeting or class has been canceled or postponed!  According to DreamSchool.org, one of the most common reoccurring dreams that people have is to dream of forgetting which room of the school the class is being held in, or they may be unable to find their locker to get their books.  But, I’m happy to report that online courses do not seem to trigger that stress response!

You Learn Best When you are Relaxed and Comfortable
Sitting at home with bunny slippers up on the desk, sipping a cup of coffee and working online at a time of convenience is absolutely the best learning environment! Critics will say that there are too many distractions at home, and it takes discipline to stay focused. One of the discipline tricks I use is to mentally note a short progress milestone, usually about 30 minutes out, which when achieved, I will reward with a distraction (to throw in a load of laundry, play with the pet, check social media, etc). These distractions, although real, are not more challenging than the distractions of trying to pay attention to a boring lecture, or trying not to think about the sometimes strange student sitting in front of you.

Benefit From Geographic and Organizational Diversity
When I physically attended a class, my instructor and all of my fellow students are generally from the same geographic area, most work for one of the local employers, and there is very little ethnic, intellectual, or cultural diversity.  Online classes are so much more diverse than the physical classroom. The online classroom provides a wider pool of teachers and students, which greatly adds to the richness of the group discussions.

Skip the Busy Work
The online environment does not tempt instructors to “fill up” class time with low-value activities. When teaching and learning online the courses tend to be structured to jump into the topic, ensure learning, and then move on once you have mastered the topic. You can work at your own pace rather than be forced to “fill a classroom hour”. Minute for minute, it eliminates waiting for others and therefore online is just more productive.

Practice a Deadline Orientation
In the project world, schedules are focused on milestones and deadlines rather than specifying exactly when work should be performed. The physical classroom tends to treat learning as a timed meeting.  Different students work at different paces. Some people are new to the material or are slower readers and need more time, and it can be very difficult to accurately estimate the time it takes a student to do an exercise. Classroom time is often structured for exercises to be lecture breaks for the instructor. There is always a certain percentage of students who don’t get to complete the exercise, while others complete their work early and end up politely wasting time. The online environment is structured around milestones and deadlines, the way real work projects are. There is no wasting of time. You learn to complete assignment deadlines rather than to just show up.

Think About Safety
Many adult learners attend evening classes that often conclude around 10:00 pm. After class, there is the long, dark walk to the car. This is followed by a long drive home in an extremely tired state of mind, after doing double duty as a full-time employee followed by four hours in the classroom. There are personal safety and public safety issues involved in this scenario that is completely eliminated in the online environment.

Earlier True View of the Course
With online courses,  you have the opportunity to “see” the reality of the course much earlier than the traditional classroom setting. In both formats, a good instructor will initially provide a course syllabus outlining the content of the class. Although these descriptions are well-intentioned, often they are difficult to comprehend until you understand the instructor’s vocabulary, style, and meaning. The online course is an open book for students. As soon as you gain access to the course, generally you are free to view all of the assignments and activities in detail. You can very quickly determine what you will be experiencing and make a much quicker assessment on if you want to complete the course, or if it is not what you wanted or expected, you can drop it before you have too much time invested.

At Successful Projects, we strive to make our programs and courses more engaging through quality instructors matched to the student, use of different mediums to engage students to the content, real-world experiences shared. Come check out our Frank P Saladis Certificate in Project Management Program to get started with a customized and rewarding virtual learning experience.