How do you choose an online academy?

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We are in an extraordinary period. In addition to the threat to health and the great uncertainty that the Corona virus entails, there are also many great initiatives that are emerging. It is not surprising that entrepreneurial London comes up with all kinds of creative offers to ease the inconvenience somewhat. However well-intentioned, it sometimes doesn't make making choices easier. There is a wide range of software solutions, whether or not temporarily free of charge, which, for example, support remote communication, now that we are often forced to work from home. But online learning is also receiving a lot of attention, especially online academies.

What is an online academy?

It is not always easy to compare or understand the different terms and concepts used here. An ‘online academy' for example, what is that actually? It usually concerns a learning environment or LMS (learning management system). Yet it is often not much more than a website where you can find a training or education and then click through. If all goes well, you will immediately get to the content you are looking for and you can also book the training / education. Much more often this is just the start of a process. I would like to refer to an earlier blog to ask the right questions in advance.

How diverse is the training offer?

Another important point of attention is what exactly the training offer is. Who is it for and where does it come from? Does the provider create content themselves or do they act as a ‘broker', where there is only a conduit role?

It is crucial to consider in advance whether you want content for really educating your professionals in the field of content or whether the offer is aimed at ‘self-development and entertainment”. There is nothing wrong with the latter, but that makes a lot of difference when selecting the right provider. I make a clear distinction between professional (in-depth) content and freely available content via the search function in your browser. I would be willing to pay for the first, probably not for the second.

Neither is one training for self-development the other. There are many topics, such as time management, in which a wide range can be found. Quality and consistency are important, but also difficult to assess. There is no uniform rating system for comparing content. The best guarantee is to look at the background of the party that provides the offer. How big are they, what areas and markets do they cover and what level do they offer? What is the track record with regard to updating and renewing the offer and what agreements can you make about this?

Tastes differ

After all, so many people taste so much. Make sure that the offer you choose is as diverse as possible in digital form. Many different learning forms can be found in a digital format, e-learning, videos, e-books, summaries, virtual practice environments, tests, mock exams and (virtual) boot camps or recorded webinars. Everyone has his or her own preferences. Do not try to please everyone, there is bound to be a common denominator within the target group. Focus on that and especially on a fully integrated offering. By this I mean that you can search and find suitable content but also start immediately (possibly after an approval flow or payment) from the same platform.

That does require a few things from the solution, but that is the difference between self-supporting or having to set up an administrative circus at the back to coordinate and sort everything out. There are many hidden costs that you can easily avoid by investing a little more up front.

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