Posted by Filipa on 12, February 2018

What are the pros and cons comparing self-learning by books, by video, or by joining a university course?

Answer in Quora by Filipa P. Moraes, PhD: 

  1. For Self-learning by books or by taking online courses you need to be very disciplined to set your own goals. Most people start very driven with an online course and after 2 weeks they have already dropped it. I believe the lack of accountability or the absence of a colleague doing the same course with you is a bummer for the majority of the students taking online courses.
  2. You have to know what is your “learning persona” do you think you learn better by reading, by visualizing, by building concept maps, by writing, by discussing and articulating what you learned, by drawing? There are different kind of learners and the teaching content and delivery should be designed to address all the learning types.
  3. If you take an online course make sure there is: a) evaluation/quiz so you are able to evaluate your learning progress, b) there is a network of people sharing their progress c) you have a course buddy for accountability. Some online courses have a social network group and peer learning feedback.
  4. University is not only a place to learn but is a social experience, you build relationships and you start to be involved in other side projects creating communities, these factors are crucial for the sense of purpose and belonging. In addition when your confidence levels are higher due to your social interactions, you learn better.

So it really depends on:

a) Your learning persona. How disciplined you are to follow a self paced course.

b) What is your country and what is the offer in terms of higher education

c) What stage of your life you are – are you a high school student? Are you retired? Are you working and don’t have time for university classes?

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