We see this question quite often. It’s not easy to find the right option, especially if you’re preparing for a complex certification exam and need to select the best possible training out there. As practicing interpreters, we know exactly how hard it is to allocate time for classroom training, which requires commute. As Michiganders, we also know how tricky getting to class can be during snowstorm season or heavy rains.
But apart from these obvious perks of online education (and ‘e-learning’ being a trendy buzzword), there’s a more scientific proof of online training benefits, too.
According to the 93-page research report from the U.S. Department of Education, students in online training perform better than those receiving onsite instructions. For 12 years researchers studied online and classroom performance for the same continuing education courses, for topics ranging from healthcare to the military. On average, online students would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, with classroom students scoring in the 50th percentile. That’s a significant difference for a court or medical interpreter certification test.
Barbara Means, an educational psychologist and the lead author of the report, said that the study’s major significance lies in demonstrating that “online learning today is not just better than nothing — it actually tends to be better than conventional instruction.”
Since 2009-2010, when this research was published, online education has developed dramatically, offering even more material, interactive features, collaboration tools and value.
Let’s analyze the pros and cons of each arrangement to see which option suits you best:
With classroom interpreter training costing a steep average of $10,000, online courses provide a significant relief to your budget, varying in cost from $169 for a single-topic course to $2,200 for the most comprehensive and extensive training programs. E-Learning also eliminates the cost of travel.
It’s always useful to preview courses before paying. We offer virtual tours during which our Course Administrator demonstrates the courses’ content and answers any questions.
When you have a full-time job and a family to take care of, there will inevitably be times when you have to skip a class. Studying online, you can complete courses at your own pace, whenever and wherever it’s convenient.
IEO courses are easily accessible from iPads and iPhones, allowing you to study anywhere, for example, during breaks between your court assignments. With an average CE single-topic course requiring approximately 6 or 8 hours of your time over the course of 2 weeks, it’s perfectly possible to fit your studies into even the tightest schedules. With so many choices for continuing education, interpreters don’t have to put their assignments on hold to stay current in their field.
According to experts, online education provides learning experiences that are more tailored to individual students than is possible in classrooms. If a student has mastered some of the content already, they can skip over that part instead of getting bored in the classroom. Furthermore, with a teacher available through Skype, email and other platforms, students can ask questions and receive individual help any time they need it.
While students have more chances for face-to-face discussion with an instructor onsite, e-Learning students can access the materials when it suits them, which creates a more positive engagement.
In traditional classes, students must often wait to practice their skills until they complete the homework. The interactive nature of online learning allows students to apply their new knowledge immediately to complete tasks.
In a classroom setting, you always run the risk of falling into a passive learning slump, where you simply accept all of the information coming your way without seriously engaging. That said, with the right teacher and fellow students, the dialogue that exists in a classroom setting can help you stay engaged and retain more knowledge.
On the other hand, online courses require their own set of skills for maintaining focus, like finding a way to detach from your daily routine and really concentrate on your studies.
Onsite wins this one, with some people choosing classroom learning for the chance to network with their peers and develop soft skills unrelated to the curriculum.
Although online education doesn’t offer you the sense of community or multi-sensory experience you get in a classroom setting, IEO invites you to socialize with colleagues and trainers by joining the conversation on our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages. You can also participate in our Twitter Terminology contest for a chance to win a discounted course or a free webinar.
For most people, discipline is the main factor when deciding between classroom and online learning. Just like how the trendy work practice of telecommuting is not for everyone, online education requires a stronger will, goal-orientation, and ability to focus.
We hope this information will make it easier for you to make the right decision according to your personal goals and preferences, and we wish you best of luck on your career path. If you still have any questions, we would be more than happy to answer them!
Special for Interpreter Education Online