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The Unexpected Ways an Online Education Can Help at Work

Dr. Teresa Goode, assistant teaching professor in the Master of Science in Leadership program, explains how online learning can benefit your career.  

As a graduate instructor who teaches primarily online, I hear a lot of students say they choose to learn online because it’s what best fits their schedule. But what’s also important for professors, students, and employers to know is that the skills online learners use are competencies employers want to see.

Here are the top five skills you can develop through online education that translate to the workplace:


One of the best benefits of online learning is the ability to engage with others on a daily basis. In the online classroom, conversations aren’t limited to once a week the way they are in the traditional classroom, meaning you have peers and faculty to bounce ideas off of as things occur in your daily life. This helps keep your studies connected to your practice, rather than living solely in the academic realm.

The ability to continue to learn throughout the week and engage in conversations connected to your course material can often be more fulfilling than most educational experiences.

Cross-Cultural Collaboration

One of the things I love most about online learning is that you have the opportunity to interact with people from around the globe. Businesses are looking for employees who can innovate, and innovation often comes from outside your immediate world. Being exposed to new ideas from professionals in other countries may spark creativity of your own—creativity that can turn out to be valuable for your organization.

Virtual Collaboration

Learning to work with others in a virtual environment can make you a more effective leader. You need to have the technical know-how, create efficient processes, and make decisions about best communication practices, such as what should be discussed in-person or electronically—all qualities of an effective leader.

Critical Thinking

Online learning facilitates the ability to think critically about what you do every day. My goal in the classroom is to challenge you to think differently. Employers want you to do that, too–to think critically in your role at work. Mastering this skill is what will set you apart as a student, and as an employee.

Time Management and Self-Motivation

One of the things we know employers expect is that we manage our time effectively. It’s never enough to be at your desk on time in the morning and stay through the end of the day; most of us are expected to get more projects done in less time. Online classes keep you on a regular schedule of making and meeting deadlines, allowing you to practice managing your time and staying productive week-to-week.

As an instructor, I expect my students to be independent, to learn on their own, and to engage with the material I’m teaching. It’s the same thing in a job; employers want you to be self-motivated, go after things that interest you, and seek new opportunities and ways of doing things. The more you put your heart into it—whether it’s learning online or working for your employer—the more you’ll succeed.