Online students develop marketable professional skills

Posted on July 21st, 2015

Two researchers at Columbia University surveyed 188 Master of Social Work students about the professional skills goals they hoped to achieve while completing online coursework at Columbia’s School of Social Work. The students identified “confidence with online technologies and environments,” “self-motivation, initiative, and independent learning,” and “experience with multiple types of online software.” The authors interviewed some of the students a year after course completion to determine the extent to which they felt that they achieved these goals. Students reported that through the process of completing these online courses they gained confidence and competence in professional online skills. As a conclusion, the authors suggest that students did have an interest in developing professional online skills and that it’s valuable for faculty and staff to encourage students to reflect on and articulate these skills. They also suggest that this study shows some of the value of online learning in professional programs. As the number of online professional programs increase, the article says it’s important to consider the particular online skills that students develop through the process of completing the programs.