How to decide if an online course, or face-to-face training is the better option for learning AI & ML.

Discover if you are better suited for online learning, or classroom learning when you choose your AI & ML Program.

OK, you have decided to learn AI & ML. You are convinced that there are more opportunities in AI & ML than in software coding. You’re prepared to dive in.

But wait… how do you proceed?

You are enamoured by the plethora of online courses. Many of these are way cheaper than face-to-face training, right?

So is it price alone that will swing your decision? Or should you also understand that your personal preference too should be considered?

How do you know, or find out your personal preference?

Wouldn’t it be better if you could dispassionately analyze the choices between online and face to face learning before you put in your hard-earned money into it?

It’d be grief if after investing money you realize that online learning is not for you, right?

Wouldn’t it be a disaster if you end up not completing the course because you didn’t have the self-discipline and motivation needed for it?

Before you jump to the wrong conclusions, understand the mode of learning that’s best for you.

Be aware of the pros and cons of each mode and then decide which type suits you best.

Here are the 6 major pros of online learning

  1. It works in specific situations. Eg If your audience is distributed in several geographies, e-learning makes sense. It saves you the cost of sending trainers to different locations, or get students to assemble at a common location.
  2. One of the features of e-learning is that you can replay the content as you need it and go over what has been taught several times. But this is possible even with face-to-face lectures where you can record the interactions in the class-toom.
  3. E-learning technology today allows verbal and face-to-face interaction during set times, or the ability to listen to these as saved interactions.
  4. All materials are online in soft copy format. This saves paper. It can be accessed at any time, or printed as you prefer..
  5. Feedback from quizzes and exams is usually immediate, so you have up to date knowledge of your progress and mastery. You have the flexibility to learn at your own pace on your device.

But, there are also issues with e-learning which you need to be aware of:

  1. Your learning preference may be suited better for a live classroom. Online, you may have to wait to ask questions or clarify doubts.
  2. Given the flexibility of time in online courses, you can get lazy and procrastinate. You may not complete the online course because of this. That in turn would lead to wasted money if you are paying for the course.
  3. Lectures are in text form and may require a lot of reading on your part
  4. You can’t interact with the instructors and classmates as often as you’d like. Answers via email may take time.

Is e-Learning for You?

Understand your abilities well before you take the course.

  1. If you prefer to study at your own pace, in the comfort of your home or elsewhere, or if you live at a distance from training center, online courses could be for you.
  2. While online learning is a convenient way to take courses, it’s not always a good idea for everyone. Some people find it difficult to study on their own, need the face to face contact with the teacher and other students in a classroom setting.
  3. Understand that when you study online, you need to be very organized, self motivated and have good communication skills. If these are difficult for you then face to face would be a better option.

The Minnesota State Career Institute has a wonderful quiz that tells you whether you are better suited for online or face-face courses. This is based on the answers that you give to the quiz. Try this out before you decide.

The 6 major pros of classroom training

This is the traditional method of teaching and learning, and this is a more successful experience for you, despite the e-learning revolution because at some stage of your life you have already grown with this form of learning.

  1. During lecture periods, you can physically ask questions in real time. And you can ask follow-up questions as well. In e-Learning, there are only opportunities for questions during times when video conferencing is in place.
  2. Physical textbooks can be handled as necessary, underlining, and writing notes in margins. The physical presence means that texts are immediately accessible rather than having to log in and navigate to some e-material.
  3. Face-to-face interaction allows nuances of expressions and other non-verbal cues that help learners understand the importance of certain content. The instructors can gauge the receptivity of students and emphasize difficult to understand topics.
  4. Class participants can physically interact and discuss the course content, and collaborate in study groups during off lecture hours.
  5. For those who need a social environment for learning, face-to-face learning is far preferable.
  6. A physical classroom and a set schedule of class times will keep potential procrastinators away from self-sabotage

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This is not to say that face-to-face training is hunky dory. It has cons too.

  1. A set schedule of class times can be a problem. If you are ill or miss your class for some reason, you must figure a way to make up for what was missed.
  2. Textbooks can be pricey unless the class does not require this
  3. If you don’t live in the neighborhood of the institute you will be to take up residence nearby. Or travel afar.
  4. If you don’t like social learning and are self-motivated then e-learning is perhaps a better alternative for you.

Is Face to Face Learning for you?

If you want to be involved in group activities, group learning and group discussions, then face to face learning is for you.

If you’re not too disciplined, are easily distracted, or find it difficult to be self-motivated then classroom training is better option for you.

Before you invest big in online courses, take the quiz at the Minnesota State Career Institute.

To be doubly sure, it’s best to try out a few small online courses and understand how well you handle it. Check for discipline to sustain through the course, the ability to find answers on your own, the persistence to be at it, etc. This will tell you whether you can take longer online courses as well.

Choose what’s best for you.

Let us know if this article was useful in helping in deciding whether an online course or an offline one was the one for you.

If you have already joined a course, let us know if you have any difficulties with it?

Do use the comments section for giving us your views.

If you think someone you know will benefit from this article, do share it in your social network.


Download the PDF: Head-to-head comparison of the top 5 AI & ML Certification Programs in India to help you decide wisely.