This month’s article focuses on the value of non-traditional training courses. To be clear, when referring to non-traditional training courses, what is meant is anything that is not considered a traditional program like a two- or four-year degree program, a Master’s, or Ph.D. program, etc. Also, non-traditional training does not include anything related specifically to compliance, EMC, or product safety. Compliance-related courses and their schedules are published yearly in a special article of In Compliance Magazine; everyone knows these courses are great!
This article addresses the remaining gamut of training courses available. This is an almost infinite number of courses that include topics such as Python Programing, Spice, MS WORD, MS EXCEL, Project Management, Program Management, PowerPoint, Technical Writing, Speaking, Statistics, Lean, Six Sigma, Quality, Web Design and Development, Business Management and so forth. In this day and age, almost anything you can think of is now available as an online course.
Non-traditional Training Course Providers
In no particular order, the following is a list of some of the top online non-traditional learning providers. There are most likely others not listed here.
- LinkedIn Learning (Ex Lynda)
How Valuable are Non-traditional Training Courses?
Just how valuable are these other non-traditional training courses? Should you waste your (or your employer’s) hard-earned dollars on them? Like most other questions that often arise in the compliance field, the best answer to these questions is “It depends.” For example, if you want to find an easy, inexpensive course that you do not want to put too much effort into, watch so you can earn professional development units (PDUs) and a certificate, then you can certainly find a course or courses that meet these criteria. In contrast, if you ever really want or need to learn statistics (perhaps for your job or for a promotion) for instance, and are also willing to do a modest amount of work, then you can certainly find something that will be beneficial and get your knowledge of statistics up-to-speed quickly. Personally, over the past few years, I have expanded my knowledge in areas such as Python programming, statistics, leadership, six sigma, measurement system analysis, digital signal processing, data science, process capability analysis, statistical process control, reliability engineering, presentation skills, coaching, continuous improvement, risk management, management, MS WORD, MS EXCEL, EXCEL Macros, EXCEL VBA, MS VISIO, MS Project, etc. A lot of these courses have benefitted me tremendously.
Are All Courses Considered Top-notch?
You may ask, “Were all these courses you had taken considered top-notch?” Probably not. With most things in life, the Pareto principle applies. About 80% percent of the course were just adequate. Not invaluable, but also not worthless, just OK. Part of this mediocrity probably has more to do with the topic and my interest in it, not necessarily the instructor or their delivery of the subject matter. The remaining 20% of the courses, however, really helped me in my career, being more efficient in getting my job in compliance done and being a better leader and technical manager. The courses ranked in the top 20% are ones that I frequently find myself reviewing to refresh my understanding of the topic.
Other Miscellaneous Items Worth Mentioning
As mentioned, some non-traditional training course providers occasionally provide sales events where their courses are highly discounted. I sign up to receive automatic messages informing me of such events. Since the provider I use also provides a method to wish list specific courses I am interested in taking later, I can quickly check to see if the one on sale is one of my wish list items and make the purchase at a discounted rate. Once purchased, I review the course when I have the time available.
Another thing to consider is if the course provider allows a way to archive completed courses so you can review them later. The provider I use lets me archive any paid-for course indefinitely. This is a much better option than only being allowed to view a course for a certain amount of time before access to it expires. For courses that I am really into, I review them many times to glean as much information out of them as I can. I find that I tend to rush through courses that happen to expire after a certain amount of time.
Another benefit you should look for is the ability to get a refund should you find the course content or how it is presented not to your liking. A few times, I got a few minutes into a course and determined it was not what I thought it was. The provider I use offers full refunds, and I was able to get refunds quickly and apply the funds to other courses almost immediately.
Finding Time to Take Courses
We are all leading busy lives, and it is often difficult to find the time to take courses that expand our knowledge and capabilities. This is something that must be worked out individually, so I cannot give you the answer, but I can tell you what has worked for me. Beware that what works for me may not work for you.
I am a morning person and get up long before I need to be at work. I set aside about 15 to 30 minutes of my morning to work on anything new I want to learn. Any longer than this, I quickly lose interest or get tired of learning. 15 to 30 minutes a day, compounded over 365 days a year adds up to a lot of time available for learning. Most courses are about ten hours or less, so it does not take long to get through them. In contrast, you may be a night person and find the best time to work on a course is midnight to 12:30 a.m. Decide what works best for you, and you will be able to upskill your abilities in what will seem like a very short amount of time.
How valuable are non-traditional training courses? If you are interested in learning, they are very valuable, and the cost-per-earning ratio is high. Thank you, and happy learning!