What Can IT Specialists Get from E-Learning?
Starting my career as a translator and technical writer, I was always ready that I’ll have to learn during my whole life, because as Lewis Carol in Alice in Wonderland said: “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
When I faced IT industry I was fascinated by the fact that these people have to learn even harder and absorb new ideas and knowledge even quicker. The reason is rapid technology evolution. So rapid that you cannot rely on good old-fashioned ways of education anymore. If you want to corner a wave, you need to learn by yourself using all ways and resources attainable. One of the ways especially fit for self-learning is online courses. But is it so perfect and handy as it seems? Don’t you lose focus when there is no human teacher in front of you? Can you find application to the knowledge at the end of the day?
Several IT specialists of different fields and seniority from Sigma Software, agreed to tell about their experience in e-learning and whether they managed to bring additional benefit to their work after taking online courses.
Natalia Tanatarova, Software Developer
Natalia has heard a lot about helpful online courses from friends and considered trying it for herself. She began with several general courses, e.g. Learning How to Learn and Mindshift, to find out more about approaches and key aspects in learning something new. Then, Natalia has completed several specialized courses to fill in the gaps and understand where to move.
Was it easy to select a course you want to take?
NT: Not really. There are plenty of courses at many platforms. It’s not so easy even to look through all of them. Class Central accumulates data on most interesting courses and provides some ratings, but with few votes, and new courses don’t have ratings at all. I ended up studying every platform separately for what they can offer.
Did you find e-learning more convenient than offline education?
NT: It’s difficult to give a straight answer, because courses are very different in complexity and interaction methods, some have deadlines and others don’t. I can see pros and cons for each of them. Though at online courses you can communicate with a teacher and other students only via a forum, online courses are advantageous in terms of time spendings and available options. You can install an app to your phone, download lectures, and watch them on the way.
I will definitely continue with e-learning and will consider offline education too.
Denis Moskalevskiy, Human Relations Manager
Denis decided to add international perspective to his work approach and took International Human Resource Management at Australian National University.
What is your impression of online learning?
DM: Listening to the course was very interesting, plus I’ve found the ANU e-learning portal highly convenient. I loved that I could use various learning materials and study any time and place that worked for me. On the minus side is the lack of contact with a trainer. If you don’t understand something or want to delve deeper into some topic, your only option is to put a question to a lector, but the answer comes after some time.
Are you going to take some other online course in future? Or would you prefer offline learning?
I would say that this e-learning course was useful and helped me get a general understanding of HR processes and HR role in international practice. For sure, I will take both online and offline courses. But if I have choice, I would prefer offline learning, especially for complicated topics and courses.
Anna Gonchar, Software Testing Engineer
Anna has completed eight online courses to refresh her knowledge in software testing and to receive certification. She is sure that constant learning is her professional advantage, because this way she keeps her skills sharp and stays tuned with the latest trends.
Anna, were all the courses you’ve taken equally useful?
AG: Watching a well-prepared course is, of course, more useful in comparison to online broadcastings, where all kinds of technical problems are possible, as well as boring questions or discussion you can’t turn over. Courses implying a lot of practice are not so suitable for online, because you’ll have to check homework anyway and you lack some control from a teacher. Though on the plus side is, of course, no restriction in time and place.
Anyway, I never had any regrets about the courses I’ve taken and, moreover, would recommend trying it to everybody. The knowledge I’ve got at courses came in very handy and this is due to some of them that I got job in Sigma Software.
Are you going to continue online learning?
AG: No Doubt! I’ll watch online courses to further develop as a software testing engineer. I actually watch educational videos at YouTube regularly. They are not as systematic as a well-designed course, but allow gripping the knowledge you need right now.
Nikolay Mozgovoy, Software Developer, Mentor, and Aviation University Teacher
When he was a student, Nikolay started using some materials of online courses that could help him in his studies. Since then, he got acquainted with many online learning platforms.
How did you start using online courses?
My first full-scale online course that I have completely finished was Data Algorithms and Structures by Stanford University at Coursera. I’ve enrolled in that course by advice of a colleague to complete an item in my roadmap and it turned out to be really useful and engaging. Since that time, I’ve passed many courses from online education platforms, including Microsoft Virtual Academy, Code School, Pluralsight, and Coursera.
What was the benefit you’ve got from e-learning?
I could learn in a pace convenient for me and I always had access to study materials to come back and repeat if necessary. An important thing is an opportunity to receive knowledge from high profile speakers no matter where they are located and sometimes even communicate with them and ask questions. However, communications are often limited as well as checking of the work done.
Anyway, in many cases, online courses helped me to get knowledge related to a new technology implemented on the project, for example, AngularJS. Once it became handy to fill in the gap of my university program – cybersecurity course. By the way, this course proved useful when our project passed OWASP certification.
Do you have any plans for further education online or offline?
NM: Any type of courses (online or offline) became a standard means for professional development for me. When I have free time or project necessity, I will surely use it.
IT specialists from various branches of the craft shared their experience and attitude to e-learning. Based on their answers, we can conclude that the absence of human teacher and live communication can really be a problem for many online learners. However, the wide variety of courses, ability to learn in the time convenient for you, and most of all, access to world best teachers overcome all the drawbacks of online courses. Of course, they cannot replace higher learning in brick-and-mortar schools yet, but they can be a useful aid in advancing in a specific area you are interested in or complementing your skills for a specific purpose.
Forward-thinking IT companies like Sigma Software, support their employees in their strive for professional development and encourage them to share the knowledge they’ve gained. So, if you are still asking questions like “Is online education for me?” – stop asking and try registering for some course instead. In the wide selection of online courses out there, there are many just right for you. The only way to lose here is to stay away from this new and incredible pool of the world knowledge lying just at your fingers. Win!