Thinking about upgrading yourself by learning how to code? You’re not alone – according to a study by Accenture, more than fifth of the global GDP can be attributed to some form of digital skills.
This means that digital tech could potentially be the source for $2 trillion of the global economic output by 2020.

Now that you’ve taken the first steps, next comes the big question: to do it online, or offline? In this article, we discuss important differences between online and offline coding classes.

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1. Instant Feedback By Instructors

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During a learning experience, there are situations that require you to interact with the instructor such as:

  1. When you are stuck and require help
  2. When you are unsure and require clarification
  3. When you are feeling adventurous and want to try new approaches with guidance

This is no different from learning to code, of course. In an online course, if you encounter any of the three situations, you’d have to post on the online course forum and wait for the instructor and/or teaching assistants to reply you.

This often takes a while due to differences in time zone and manpower bandwidth. However, in a classroom you’d receive feedback immediately by instructors.

Given the learning curve involved when it comes to coding, you’d encounter the first two situations more frequently. In addition, since there are numerous creative ways to tackle a coding problem and if you do not feel sufficiently challenged and experiment with your code, you can always brainstorm with your instructor.

2. Flexibility

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One of the main draws of learning to code online is that online classes give you the flexibility to complete courses at your own pace and convenience.

Coding classes from online platforms come with recorded lectures, which means you can listen in whenever you can or want to. Platforms such as Coursera and Udemy have an app as well, so you can learn on the go.

On the other hand, you are unable to do so for offline coding classes, where you are expected to turn up for classes regularly.

Lectures are also not recorded, which means there is a risk of missing something an instructor says. That is something which can be addressed by asking the instructor once again.

The disadvantage of recorded lectures is that while they offer flexibility in the sense that you can view them whenever you want, lectures are static. This is unlike instructors in a classroom who can re-explain things in a different way if you need a better explanation.

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3. Completion

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On a related note to pacing, the completion rates differ greatly between online and offline courses.

Online courses are plagued with a major problem: completion rates. Time and again, completion rates for coding classes on online platforms range between 5-30 per cent. Reasons vary, but they typically point towards course quality, pacing, and difficulty of the course.

The flexibility of online classes means you need be incredibly self-motivated to see the course to completion, as you are expected to pace yourself to not just listen to the lectures but also practice coding. Being in a classroom setting forces you to attend the classes — begrudgingly or otherwise – this increases the chances of you completing the course successfully.

Ultimately, course completion depends on how disciplined and self-motivated you are as an individual.

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4. Cost

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Online classes are usually provided free by learning platforms.

For example, you can choose to audit classes on Coursera. However, the free versions typically involve only recorded lectures and no assignments and certificates. If you want an official certificate, you’d have to pay for the classes.

Structured coding classes in a classroom can cost several times more than online classes, which may seem off-putting at first. While offline coding classes are more expensive compared to online ones, you’re paying for direct access to the instructors’ experience and expertise and the intangible benefits mentioned above.

That said, which type of class is right for me?

At the risk of sounding like a cop-out, it truly depends. Offline classes are relatively faster-paced and challenging, but it offers more opportunities to understand your material better.

On the other hand, online classes allow you to take classes at your own pace but require a lot of self-discipline and resourcefulness to find solutions to challenges on your own.

Text: Jackie Tan-Yen


Interested in learning to code? Consider taking on our offline two week Python Development course. Read more about them here.